Friday, January 14, 2011

Early Risers: a Solution

image credit
There is something very tiring about motherhood: lack of sleep! Every mother knows, especially new moms, about lack of sleep. Surviving on little bits of sleep. Sleep walking (going throughout our day without sleeping much the night before). Feeling like you're walking around in a cloud. Not remembering things. Bags under the eyes.
It's part of being a mom. It's something you can't always change, especially if you have a newborn, or even toddlers!! Some moms have little ones who just naturally wake early. I happen to be one of those moms!! Madelynn, my four year old, used to wake up around 8, and it was bliss!! I remember when she was a little baby, and my "stay-at-home-mom" job seemed pretty easy. We slept until about 10 am, had a pretty relaxing day, had playdates with other people, and hung out. My job seemed pretty easy!! When I was pregnant with Judah, Maddy started waking up earlier and earlier. She got to the point where it was backing up as early as 4:30am! I felt like I was gonna lose my mind!! I was so exhausted!!
Then, when Judah was born, she would wake up early and bust into our room(where he was sleeping) and start talking and wake Judah up. That was the last straw!! I had to find a way to keep her out of our room so that she didn't wake us up! We tried adjusting her bedtime, but it never seemed to help her sleep in. So frustrating!!
We finally found a system that worked. We tried to so many things!! But finally, we found a way that has worked for us for awhile. When she was around 3 or 3 1/2, she knew her numbers, at least through the number 10, so she could look at the first number(s) on the digital clock, and know what it was. So I picked an even number (6:00 am), not something harder like 6:30, so that she only had to look at the first number. If her clock said 6, she could get up and play in her room until 7am. At first, I wrote these numbers next to her clock on a piece of paper so that she would remember which numbers she was looking for. It definitely took a lot of trial and error, but eventually, she got it. We put barstools outside her door to reinforce this, and I told her I would move them at 7am. So if she had trouble remembering the numbers, she could open her door and see if the stools were there. The only reason she was allowed to come out is if she had to go to the bathroom, which she could do quickly and quietly, and then go back to her room.
She learned to play nicely and quietly in her room for an hour, or less, depending on what time she woke up. And she was a little bit older, so she knew what to play with, and for the most part, played obediently and didn't destroy things in her room.
At first, I struggled with whether or not it was okay to make her stay in her room for an hour by herself. Was that mean? Was it selfish? Was she sad and lonely playing in there by herself?
I felt better about our little method once I knew it was helping Judah sleep longer as well. As I talked to other parents, I learned that many of them did the same sort of thing, and even had them stay in their beds quietly looking at books, or just resting. It actually taught Maddy to read the numbers on a clock, to play nicely by herself, to play quietly, to be disciplined, and to play with a good attitude (since playing for an hour was better than having to stay in her bed until 7 or not being able to get up at all). It taught her valuable lessons that she wouldn't have learned otherwise!
I had also tried setting up a show for her for the morning, so that when she woke up she would just turn on the tv and eat a little snack I had out for her. But I worried about her in the living room by herself, with access to the door, so I didn't feel that was a safe option.
If you have read my post about Maximize Your Mornings, you know that I get up really early now to do things before the kids wake up, but I can't get up much earlier than 5:30 when Maddy wakes up everyday. So now, she still needs to wait to wake up at 6 (the point being that before then, she needs to try to go back to sleep) and she can turn on a movie downstairs (at Tad's parents house, where we are currently living). That way, I can still have my time with God before she comes up. And she can play or watch her movie and rest a little before she is really "up!"
I hope this is a little bit of an encouragement to you moms with little ones who have an early internal alarm clock!! It has been really frustrating to me, and tiring, but once we found this solution, it was so much more doable!! We had a system, it worked, and it really taught Maddy discipline and obedience in this area!!
If you have any other advice, suggestions, methods, or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment. I definitely welcome your insight!! For goodness sakes, it took me awhile to come up with this solution!!
And then there's always the obvious solution: Go to bed much earlier!! I haven't learned that one yet!!

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea Stephanie! I will definitely use it when Cara is older (now she's almost 1) :) I know they make colored clocks that turn colors when its ok for the child to get up, so they can learn as early as 2 1/2.