So here’s the thing: we did get our kids to sleep later. But I don’t want to mislead you. Our kids still wake up way too early. However, the fact that they no longer wake at 4:30am is a huge success. In fact, they now sleep two hours later and get up at 6:30am. So, in comparison it’s a win but let’s not pretend that 6:30am isn’t obscenely early. So we couldn’t cure our kids of the horrid wee morning hour wake time, but we were able to improve the situation and here’s how.
Put them to bed earlier.
Counterintuitive, I know. You’d think that my putting your kid to bed late at night would help them sleep later in the morning. FALSE! They will wake up at exactly the same time but instead of waking happy and gleeful they will be as pleasant as Voldemort for the next 24 hours. Joy! Make bedtime earlier and wake time might creep a bit later, God willing. Regardless, your kid will have gotten more sleep even if they still wake up at an unholy hour and you will have a little more time in the evening to do luxurious things like shower or change clothes. (I know!)
Go to bed earlier yourself.
OK, so this isn’t a tip that will change your child’s behavior but it sure makes life easier on you. We were determined to get our firstborn to sleep til a reasonable hour like 8am so that we could continue on our college student schedule of going to bed at midnight. What fools we were! 10pm is now an absurdly late bedtime for us. Sometimes we’re asleep before 9. You can mock us but we can get out of bed without crying in the morning, so who’s laughing now?!
Bribe your children.
OK, so maybe “bribing” is a strong word, but rewarding a child for staying in bed until the appropriate time can help. Our preschooler is rewarded by getting to cart all his pillows and blankies down the hall and snuggle in our bed if he doesn’t wake the house at dark thirty.
Try this clock.
Somebody heard about our plight and took pity on us. They told us about an “alarm” clock for kids that changes color when it’s an acceptable time for them to get up (the parents set the time for the “alarm”). I was skeptical. We have the world’s most stubborn eldest child and no fancy schmancy clock in the world could convince him to stay in bed a moment past 5am…or so I thought. But I was wrong! It was like magic. The kid stays in bed until the clock turns green whether he’s awake already or not. Now, I’ll be honest. He sometimes wakes up very early (5:30am) singing at the top of his lungs. So we’re still shaken from our slumber by the Lion King “Circle of Life” intro or an inhumanly loud humming of the Star Wars theme. BUT, we can stay in bed until 6:30 or at least start making coffee before those little feet are running about.
Oh, sleepy parent, I hope you’re not discouraged by our lack of control of our children’s wake time. And if you’ve had success in getting your child to sleep later, I’d love to hear your suggestions! But if you’re one of those lucky parents with the fictional children that have to be woken up at 8am so they can get dressed for school, please let me continue thinking you’re a figment of my imagination and that you live in a magical land where unicorns frolic and no one ever runs out of coffee.