Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sleep Is For The Weak. Or For Dads. Whichever.

They're cute and I love them. But it would be
nice not to see their faces while the moon is still up.

During the last school year I set my alarm for five a.m. so I could get a few things done before the children got up. Usually I worked on my freelance gig(s) a little bit then. Now that it's summer, I don't set my alarm anymore, but I tend to wake up when dawn creeps in, around 5:15, and I force myself to get up then, ALWAYS, not because I'm getting so much work done at that time of day -- although I should, because my freelance work doesn't have a summer vacation, you know what I mean? -- but because, in some cruel twist of life as a parent, my children actually get up earlier than they did during the school year. Meaning, they arise before six a.m., and an adult needs to get up then, too. We're talking Saturdays and Sundays too, people. I can't even remember the last time I slept even as late as seven a.m. on a weekend.

Since getting up at the same moment as my children makes me want to punch something (because they're begging for food and whining and calling my name while I'm trying to at least just brush my teeth before I do something for anyone else, is that so much to ask?), I'd rather get up at 5:15 so I can at the very least make a cup of coffee before children attack me. So to speak.

But awhile back I got so tired of seeing my children at the ungodly hour of before six a.m., I told them they needed to stay in their room until the digital clock started with a 6. There may have been threats involved.

This worked for awhile, sort of, only I kept forgetting to reset their digital clock to make it run...ahem...a little SLOW. And they were always at the top of the stairs at the crack of 5:57. Which just seemed so....early. And this was even if they'd stayed up late the night before. It didn't matter how late we put them to bed; they were always at the top of the stairs at 5:57.

They were always super cranky too, so that breakfast was a barrel of fun involving me swigging strong coffee and trying to write while they bickered with each other over their peanut-butter toast.

I got so tired of the crankiness (accompanied by yawning) that I revised the rule to -- gasp! -- 7. The clock had to start with a 7. Now, I knew they wouldn't sleep till seven, but I know lots of parents who have a rule that early-rising kids stay in their rooms and do something else -- read in bed, for example, or argue with each other -- until a reasonable hour.

It didn't work. They kept coming out at about 6:10, begging. They'd say "it's too hard." And "we can't do it." And "we're hungry."

So I amended the rule to a compromising 6:30. The clock needs to start with a 6, and a 3. The second number can be anything higher than a 3, also. Although there's really just 4 and 5.

One time they made it to 6:27. Now they just disregard it completely. Today I had barely made it downstairs (I slept late; 5:40 a.m.) when their little feet trotted down the staircase and there they were, asking for eggs and toast, at 5:45.

Older parents I know tell me that when my children are teenagers I'll be throwing wet washcloths at them to try to get them up before eleven on non-school days. I say I'll be there waiting, wet washcloths in hand, by 5 a.m. every day.

It's only fair.


Mnmom said...

Turn this into something fun for them! Put their favorite cereal in bowls covered with plastic wrap. Set the bowls, spoons, etc at the table all nice and pretty. Put milk in a child-sized pouring container where they can reach it in the frig. Tell them they can get their own cereal breakfast, and that Mommy doesn't start until 7. Toast etc will come after 7.

Shannon said...

Leave it to Mnmom to have a brilliant solution! :) I think I may try this.

Anonymous said...

My kid has rules--stay in bed and rest until 7 (he usually gets up around 6:45) and then he can get up and turn on the light and play until 7:30. He does great with this UNLESS he stays up too late. If he stays up late, he wakes up early. This morning it was a "nightmare" at 6am. No recovering from that. If he wakes u at 6 for any reason, he's not going back to sleep.

But the system works about 85% of the time, which is way better than never.

He gets positive reinforcement in the form of better rested, happier, more-willing-to-play parents if he lets us sleep 'til 7:30. And negative reinforcement in the form of sullen, grumpy, yawny, cranky, sleepy parents if he doesn't.

I bet if you just gradually serve breakfast later and later, they wouldn't be hungry so early. Sometimes that's just a habit thing, like they're conditioned to be hungry at that hour...

Angel said...

When you find the solution, send it my way....

Haylen said...

I stumbled across your idea of ABC Summer and decided to do it with my 2 year old. I love it! Thanks for the great idea!

Rita said...

Ok, I think I might be awful, but I put a child-protective cover over the inside of Paige's doorknob, so she litterally CANNOT come out until I come and get her.

It's like she's a caged animal.

(I still have baby monitors in BOTH kids' bedrooms because they are upstairs and we are down... so I always hear her if she's up and needs me)

Rita said...

Mnmom is a genius, BTW

Shannon said...

Mnmom IS a genius, but later on I realized a problem: we have a child gate locked at the bottom of our stairs, to keep our cat out of the bedrooms/upstairs at night (b/c she is CRAZY and keeps everyone up and meows all the time and is generally disruptive). Which of course the girls cannot disable by themselves. Hmmm.

Oh, and Rita--I still use a baby monitor too! I'm so glad someone else does this with kids roughly/near my kids' ages. ;) We are all on the same level (bedrooms), but they are at the other end of the hall and when they're door is closed you cannot hear them calling or anything. And if you're downstairs, you don't even hear yelling or crying unless they REALLY scream.