It’s basically a permanent state of being for me and probably for many of you if you have young children. I remember having a conversation about kids’ sleep with some mom friends a few years ago. At the time, I was expecting my fourth child and someone asked me which of my boys was my good sleeper. My reply was, “I’m hoping this one will be. So far, I don’t have one.”
I was not exaggerating. The boys take after their father who is an early riser. He leaves for work at 4:30 a.m. without complaint. I am most definitely not an early riser and I like my sleep; I really like it. So, from the time the boys could identify numbers, I began to teach them the rules of the house.
I know some families who have a rule that their kids can’t get out of bed before 7:00, but that is unrealistic in my house, so I chose 6:00. As soon as children can recognize a number, you can teach them that until they see that number on the clock, they cannot get out of bed, or at least cannot get out of their room.
1. Cover the minutes of a digital clock so there can be no confusion as to which number to identify. A simple post-it note is enough to cover the numbers. Once the children are older, you can tell them that it’s the first number that must be a 6 or 7. My older boys still remember saying that they could not get out of bed before “six-oh-oh.”
2. Instruct the children to play quietly or read in their rooms if they wake up before the specified time.
3. Once the specified time has passed, you can set up a safe environment that allows the kids to be up and fed as you lie peacefully in your bed. Really.
4. Children as young as two can be set up with an age appropriate DVD, a pile of books and quiet toys and a sippy cup of milk. This can buy you 30 minutes to an hour. Sure, you will have to get out of bed to set it up, if you don’t have older children to help you, but you can easily go right back to your cozy bed. Of course you must ensure the room is child safe.
5. Create a safe environment: Lock up any cleaning chemicals, put away small, choking-hazard toys, close the basement door, etc.
6. For older children, set up their cereal or other breakfast on the table, set the TV to the correct channel and they don’t even have to wake you before they turn on the TV and eat quietly.
The earlier you teach your children to do these things independently, the stronger their confidence and feeling of independence will be. This is a great trait for kids. It will help them in all areas of their lives, when they are young and as they grow. So, you are not only helping yourself to more sleep, you are helping your children develop into confident, productive citizens of the world! It’s win-win.
If you start to question the course of action and wonder if you are copping out, reassure yourself. You are getting your much needed rest and that will make you a better parent for the rest of the day. I know it works for me.
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