Earlier this week, I offered suggestions for waking up kids who are not, er, morning people. As expected, I heard from a lot of readers who, like me, have the opposite problem: Kids who are not only awake but fully energised for the day ahead. At ungodly hours of the morning.
Just because they are morning people doesn’t mean we want to get up at 5:30AM every day for the foreseeable future. So, how do you sleep in when you have young kids?
Take turns with your partner
OK, my real advice here is to marry a morning person. That’s what I did and I highly recommend it. Not only does my husband wake up around the same time as my son, he actually gets restless if he even tries to sleep in.
I routinely offer to be the one to get up and pop the frozen waffles in the toaster, but his answer is always the same: “Nah, I’m up anyway; go ahead and sleep in.” I’m not trying to brag here, but seriously, it’s glorious.
If that wasn’t one of your qualifications in a partner, then do the next best thing and take turns, at least on the weekends (or whenever your schedule allows for it).
In fact, you should decide who gets to sleep in on the weekends early in the week so you have something to look forward to when your sweet child is bursting through your bedroom door day after day long before it’s even really “morning”.
Get them a light-up alarm clock
The thing about kids is that by the time they’re able to tell time, they’re probably old enough to be hanging out in the morning without you. That’s why a light-up alarm clock is the most-recommended tool from parents with young early-risers. You can set it to light up when it’s OK for them to come out of their rooms. No light? No coming out.
We had one (this one, actually) and we used it with my son for about two years. At times the damn thing was almost more annoying than it was worth. He’d come out of his room every five to 10 minutes to ask, “How many more minutes until the green light comes on?”
I say “almost more annoying than it was worth”, because it was still better than nothing. It was a concept he could understand, even if it made him — and therefore us — crazy to not know exactly when he was going to be set free.
Have your kids share a room
Yes, one kid will inevitably wake up the other kid when you don’t want them to. But they can also entertain each other. One parent I asked said her her oldest daughter, who is four years old, climbs into her two-year-old daughter’s crib in the morning and they cuddle and hang out together. It gets her an extra 20 minutes of peace before the whining begins, and 20 minutes can make all the difference.
Keep the cereal where they can reach it
Once they’re old enough to come out of their rooms by themselves for a bit without you, store the cereal where they can reach it, along with a small pitcher of milk on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. They’ll feel like big kids fending for themselves, and you’ll get a little extra rest.
If all else fails
As usual, the parents in our Lifehacker Parenting Facebook Group have a few, uh, unconventional ideas if nothing else has worked for you:
- “Teach the oldest to turn on cartoons,” Stephanie says. “And put a box of doughnuts on the counter in reachable distance to the children.”
- “I tell them when I get up we are going to start deep cleaning the house,” says Christina, who is also strong enough to save the kids’ only TV time for Saturday mornings, to buy herself a few precious hours.
- Teach them basic life skills, like Carrie, who says, “My oldest is able to ‘make breakfast’ and dish out spoonfuls of peanut butter for anyone who’s starving.”
- And I’m sure you’ve thought of this one already, but just in case, Autumn says: “I give my 4-year-old a snack and her Kindle and that buys me an hour or two.”