Thursday, March 4, 2010

Up With the Sun

says, "Just wondering, what time do your children wake up? I'd love for Tim and I to have some time in the evenings, but with Eliya and Jonathan (to potty) still waking up throughout the night and Emahry and Jonathan getting up around 5 a.m., Tim and I seem to conk out as soon as the kids are asleep. Any tips on getting toddlers to sleep in later?"


A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my windowsill
Cocked his shining eye and said,
"Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy head!"

A couple of years ago, I had Gavin memorize this poem, though he could probably never relate.  Never has a little bird had to sit upon his window, urging him to begin the day.  His internal clock has somehow always known to wake him with the sun.  We've experimented over the years with putting him to bed later in the night, trying to trick him into sleeping later in the morning, but alas, this only serves to make him sleepy and grumpy the next day as he still rises with the morning light.  We've attempted dark curtains, but even the bits of light peeking in around the sides are enough to lift his eyelids.  His internal clock is set to wake early and it refuses to be reset.  Owen and Benjamin seem to be wired the same way so our mornings are filled with the chatter and tumblings of exuberant boys!  Though I am a morning person and can wake up and get going quickly, my husband is not and so we have developed a few coping techniques to get a few extra minutes of rest (if not sleep) in the morning. 

  • Give up naps early.  This is a hard one because what Mama doesn't need this blessed quiet time in the middle of the day.  But I learned early that I would rather power through the afternoon than have a energetic toddler up late at night because they aren't sleepy!  All of my kids gave up their nap between the ages of 2 and 3, some sooner than others.  At first, the hour before dinner was rough because the newly un-napped child was cranky and loosing energy, but once he filled his belly, he was usally good until bed at 7 or 8 o'clock.  On days when I gave a short nap or accidently let a child  fall asleep before dinner, the nights were long and frustrating.  (Giving up a nap doesn't have to mean giving up quiet time altogether.  We still have a modified period of rest in the middle of the day.)

  • Prolong the time between putting to bed and falling asleep.  The kids are in bed by 7:30-8:00 in the winter and by 8:00-8:30 in the summer.  Little bodies crave rest but little minds are not always ready to sleep right away.  We remedy that by letting the three oldest who share a room rotate choosing a CD to listen to at bedtime.  It can be music or a narrated story.  As long as they are lying down and quiet, we allow them to listen as long as they like.  Sometimes they drift off right away, but as they get older, they often stay awake to listen longer.   

  • Find a mandatory "do-no-get-up-until" cue.  This is a biggie at our house.  Regardless of what time the children wake up, they are not allowed to get out of bed (except to use the bathroom) unless they hear Daddy up getting ready for work  (at 6:45).  The little ones learn to follow the cue from the older ones.  Sometimes we hear early morning chatter from their bedroom, but as long as they are still in bed, we allow it.  Slowly, this rule has trained them to sleep a bit later-- not late, but later

  • Remember this is a season!  There are periods of weeks and months when we function on less than sleep than we wish.  When a new baby is born, evening bedtimes and morning wake times are unpredictable.  When children are sick, night wakings are frequent and bedtimes are thrown out the window!  We try to remain flexible and know this season will pass like the rest. 

How do you ensure everyone in your house is getting enough rest?


  1. Talking about how to get kids to wake up later .I know Amelia was an early riser and it seemed like it didnt matter what time i got her in bed shed wake up at the same time until we stayed with some night owl relatives ;after a week of 12am bedtimes she started sleeping in :)
    some kids just need less sleep but it also takes awhile to reset their internal alarms.And quiet evenings to me are better than quiet mornings most days, although now Im not getting quiet evenings so the grass may look greener.

  2. Fantastic tips Kristen... I love them and might even try one tomorrow!!

    Be blessed!

  3. We've been working on the "stay in bed until" cue, but it's difficult since our oldest isn't even three yet. I read somewhere online about purchasing a timer to plug a small lamp into, when the lamp turns on (a dim bulb) the children were allowed to get up. Just another idea.


  4. Update: Emahry & Jonathan have decided to start sleeping in...
    until 6 AM :)

  5. kristin, for such a young woman you have
    a remarkable amount of good sense.

    wow, that sure sounded like an old woman!

    i would tell your friend to enjoy the evenings
    but get to bed sooner, themselves.

    we slept when our children did, and awoke
    with them, too. kind of like the farm animals...


  6. I echo Lea's sure do have "a remarkable amount of good sense"! I think that it is important to consider your family's needs...and work from there. Over the years in our house, bed times and bedtime routines have changed along with the ages of the children, Dad's work schedule, etc. The key is to be flexible and sensitive to each other's needs.

  7. I love the "do not get up cue" - and most definitely need to start that with my crew!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...