In Fall the time change offers an extra hour of sleep in the morning. That is, unless you have kids. Most parents have living alarm clocks that walk into right up to the edge of the bed and wake them up. As the weekend approaches, I thought I might give some hope to parents who dream of sleeping past the crack of 6:00.
Here are my 3 best tips for eking out a few more zzzz in the morning.
1) TEACH THEM WHEN THEY MAY GET UP
If your child is too young to read a clock, they need a way to know when it’s ok to get out of bed in the morning. And I say every extra minute your child lets you sleep, is one minute longer they should be allowed to live.
A dear friend of mine and amazing mother of two, Gabrielle Robinson, told me about this night-light. Her daughter used to get up at 5:00, 5 AM, FIVE AAAA MMMM!!!!!!! She used this nightlight to teach her daughter to stay in bed until a reasonable hour. We use it in our house too, and it is great.
GOOD NIGHT LITE
This is how it works. You set the clock on the light and designate a “bedtime” and “wake up” time. The light remains off during the day. At the set “bedtime”, the light turns into a blue moon. It will remain blue until the morning “wake up” time when it will turn into a yellow sun.
They recommend setting the morning “wake up” light for whatever time your child naturally wakes up and leave it set like that for a week or two until you’re certain the child understands the light and whatever guidelines you have set regarding it. Then you increase the time by 15 minutes and let them get used to that for a week or two. Keep increasing the “wake up” time, in 15 minute increments, until you’ve reached the desired wake up time.
This light will not work unless you are 100% committed to reenforcing it. It is only as powerful as you make it. It’s not fun, but you should walk the child back to bed each and every single time they get up before the set “wake up” time. This process sucks. Stay strong and don’t give in. It really works. After you put in a little tough work, you’ll own your morning once again!
2) DON’T LET SUNSHINE RUIN YOUR PLANS
Do not pass “Go”, do not collect $200, go straight to the store and get blackout curtains! They have very inexpensive ones at Target, which is where I bought ours, but I believe J C Penney and Walmart carry them as well. Hey, it works in Vegas. If your kids don’t know it’s morning, they just might stay at the tables, so to speak.
By the way, blackout curtains are also extremely helpful at nap time and bedtime during the summer months when it stays light so much later. Just remember to open the curtains up after the kids fall asleep on school nights. Weekdays, you should let the sun work in your favor.
3) GIVE THEM INDEPENDENT TIME
More often than not, we have fun weekend mornings, spent in pajamas, having kid cuddle time in bed, or making fun breakfasts. But sometimes it is fine to let the kids do their own thing. Try setting up a part of your morning routine for the kids to do on their own. Finding age appropriate areas where children can have some independence, helps them build confidence in their own abilities and lets them take responsibility for parts of their lives…. and reminding myself of that while I’m laying in bed, helps alleviate any guilt I might feel for not popping up with them.
On Friday and Saturday evening, we put milk in sippy-cups in the fridge that the kids get for themselves when they wake up. We’ve also been known to leave granola bars or fruit on the kitchen counter for them to eat. Sometimes we have the kids pick a morning activity that they will be in charge of, and help them set it up before they go to bed. They know in advance, the morning will be independent playtime and that we will not be participating. If you use language that gives weight and importance to them owning this time, they just might buy it. We say things like, “So, what do you have planned for your morning?” or “You do a great job running things when you’re in charge of your time.” They love it and often choose to make presents for us. So really, it’s a double win! A little extra sleep and art projects!
Other times, we just place a few games on the coffee table for them to find. I have no idea why the games are more interesting if we leave them in the living room verses if they’re in their natural habitat of their bedroom, but they are.
Depending on the child, these independence tips might only work if there are multiple kids.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Letting your children run their own morning may, or in our case definitely, will lead to odd experiments in the freezer and mysterious trails of water leading from experiments to a very elaborate fort made with every single blanket and pillow in the house.