I have had a few friends tell me recently that their little guy or gal has woken up at 5:00am, and their family days begins whenever the child gets up. I am not talking about little tiny babies or infants either. Oh my goodness, someone would have had to put me in a straitjacket.
Every family is surely different. I get that! There are some families which I am sure are OK with the 5 o’clock hour with their kids running around, and that is great.
I myself am not a morning person nor will I ever be a morning person. My kids were not allowed to be up that early unless they were sick, or we had an early morning road trip. I really did spend time and effort to train my kids to sleep in in the mornings, and I thought I would pass along some tips I used if anyone out there is not a morning person like me and doesn’t want to see the clock that early in the morning. I am personally a better Mommy when I got more sleep!
Know how many hours of sleep your child needs for their age.
According to the Sleep for Kids website1, the amount of sleep a kid needs is listed below. I know for myself this chart was super helpful. Sometimes, I would think my child needed more or less sleep than they actually did. If I ever began to have sleeping difficulties, I would always look at this chart first.
0-2 months 11-18 hours (14-17 according to the National Sleep Foundation website)
2-12 months 14-15 hours
1-3 years 12-14 hours
3-5 years 11-13 hours
5-12 years 10-11 hours
For example, let’s say your 4 year old is getting up at 5am, and you would like him to sleep until 7am. He currently goes to bed at 7pm and takes a 3 hours nap during the day. So, doing the math to see how much sleep he is currently getting on average puts him at the 13 hour range which is a normal range for his age. To get those morning sleep hours, I would try cutting down the afternoon nap and pushing the bedtime back until about 7:30pm or 8pm.
Say goodbye to your black out curtains at night
Being able to see the sunlight or the lack of sunlight coming through the curtains in my opinion is a gift you can use to teach your kids when it is nighttime and when it is morning. If they have black out curtains, they really are not able to learn if it is day or night so they will wake often to check with you to see if it is night or day. When my child would wake up at 5:30am, for example, I would come into their room, point to the darkness outside the window, and say, “It is still nite-nite time.” They began to know that I would not get them out if it was still dark outside. I would lay them back down, put the covers back on and walk back out of the room. It didn’t always work, but it worked the majority of the time.
Let them cry it out in small intervals
When my kids were really little or just starting to communicate, they would either cry or call out to me from their cribs in the morning time. If it was still dark, I would go in there like I did above and tell them it was nite-nite time. If it was already sunlight outside, but still really early, I might let them just play in their crib for awhile if they weren’t fussy or if they were crying, let them fuss it out for 5-10 minutes before going to get them unless they were absolutely hysterical. I remember Madison got stuck for a little while in a time slot in the morning when it was 6:15am or so. Being the non-morning person that I am, I would delay to go and get her when she would wake around 6:15am. So, the first day I got her at 6:25, then the next at 6:35, then 6:40 and so on. Within a couple of weeks, she was sleeping until 7:00 to 7:30am.
Teach the kids to tell time on a digital clock
When the kids got a little bit older where they could read time on a digital clock, but Carl and I still did not feel comfortable with them roaming the house unsupervised, we had a rule on the weekends that they could not come out of their rooms until the first number on the clock was an 8. We always made sure their rooms were child proofed such as blind cords put away, furniture secured to the wall, outlet covers on, etc. They were allowed to get out of their beds and play quietly until 8, but not come and wake us up yet. You could choose a different number, but that is the number we liked.
I know every family is different. I have 3 kids and know that every kid is different in how they sleep so please take this for what it is. Some tips for those who are struggling in this area. It worked for me with all of our children, and it was also very important to me to get my morning sleep. I am really not a morning person. Did I say that already?