Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Early risers

Like lots of kids, mine are early risers. My daughter (recently turned seven) has started to sleep in at times. My son, never. Seriously, I can probably count on my two hands the number of times, in his four years, he's slept past eight.

I always felt like the early rising was, at least in part, due to this crazy attachment they have to me. As soon as their eyes flutter in the morning, they jump out of bed and race to my room. This seems to be the case because they often sleep later if they are sleeping over at someone else's house or if I am out of town.

It is not unusual for my kids to wake between six and seven. At times, they get into a rut where they keep getting up earlier and earlier. Especially my son. If he wakes up at 6:30 one day, the next day he might wake at 6:00 and the next day at 5:45. I thought if they knew they couldn't get up before a certain time they would stop waking up so early.

For my daughter, I put an alarm clock in her room and told her she could come out when the first number turned to seven. That worked like a charm for her.

When I started this with my son, he was so young he didn't yet know his numbers. I had to come up with something else. I bought a timer (the kind you would put on a lamp) and attached it to a small turtle lamp we had. (This was one time holding on to all kinds of junk worked out. This was a lamp someone gave us for our wedding.) I set the timer for seven. At seven, the light turns on. If his turtle is on when he wakes up, he can get up. If it is not, he has to wait until it comes on. This works GREAT, if I stay consistent with it. If I start letting up, he gets into the habit of waking earlier and earlier and we have to start over.

Initially, I tried the type of timer that uses a dial to set the time. I wasn't able to tell exactly what time I was setting on the dial. This digital timer worked better for me because I could be more precise. While I wanted him to stay in his room until seven, I also wanted him to be able to come out at seven and that wasn't easy to set up with the other type of timer.

It's always difficult at first. Usually, the first day he comes in before seven I take him back to his room. Of course, he whines and cries and makes it hard on both of us. The next day I tell him he has to go back to his room on his own or there will be a consequence (usually loss of tv for the day.) He goes back, whining as he does it. After a day or two, he stays in his room until seven (or later) and it was all worth it.

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Side note:
My son was such a horrible sleeper we saw a sleep specialist around his first birthday and then again around his second birthday. She recommends using an auditory signal. The theory behind that is that it's easier for the child to fall back to sleep if they wake up and don't hear something. If you use a visual signal and they wake up, looking at something requires them to wake up more than listening for something. They don't even need to open their eyes if they don't hear the sound. Also, if you use a visual signal they will lay there and look at the light, which will keep them up. My issue with the auditory signal is that if my son was asleep and the sound started, it woke him up. The lamp I use isn't so bright it wakes him up if he is asleep when it turns on. I did have to put a slipper on over the timer because it is a little loud when it clicks on.


  1. I LOVE that idea. Where on earth am I going to find a timer in singapore? I've never even heard of those things.

    LOVE it though. I'm on it this week.

    My kids do the EXACT same thing. Partly to be with me. But my son heads downstairs for breakfast the minute he gets up...as early as 6.

  2. What a great idea! And I love all the details about putting the slipper on the timer... isn't it funny what we do to make things work!?

    Have a great day!

  3. Great ideas. My early riser was awake at 4:40 today. That's his early time, or sometimes 3:45. Getting up normally at 5:30 though, is different than 7. He is three and I wrote the time on a piece of paper next to a digital clock, when he's allowed up. My problem though, is that he calls me because he actually needs something (potty, fan on, a book to entertain himself, even though he has some right there..). I can't quite beat that one yet.

  4. My 6 year old daughter has never been a good sleeper - sometimes she still gets up in the middle of the night and comes looking for me. I've tried the lamp thing, and the "you can't come out until your clock says..." and neither seem to work well for long. It has been quite a struggle to get her to stay in there. We also took her to a sleep specialist who suggested a sticker chart, which has never worked with her - she has no interest in getting a sticker and losing out on what she wants to do!

    Good luck with your turtle lamp! :)

  5. I LOVE the time on the lamp idea for TWO reasons: One, my son wakes early and climbs in bed with me and goes back to sleep. I can use it for your son the same way (if it's not on you need to stay in bed.)
    My daughters however, sleep late, and don't like to get up. I'd love to attach one to a lamp when they need to wake up. Sort of a "rise and shine" wakeup signal. ;)
    THANKS! (here from WFMW)

  6. awesome tips...I have a 3 yr old who insists on getting up at 6...I am tired!

  7. Mine are both hard-wired for 5AM or earlier. They get one small piece of candy from the treasure box if they stay in bed until 5.....2 for 6:00.

  8. Great idea - though I've got the reverse issue to deal with :) LOVE your colorful turtle lamp!!

  9. I heard this advice too late---Teach them stay in their beds until you come and get them. That way you are dressed and ready to help them start their day.