I have early risers – two of them, in fact. I’ve come to accept that’s who they are and that I created these two amazing creatures who can hop out of bed with smiles on their faces, ready to go at it with gusto. So, it’s partially my fault. They typically get up between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., but they have each had plenty of phases where they wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m., or even as early as 4:45 a.m. on a regular basis. And now they share a room, so they continually wake each other up in the mornings, no matter what the time or who happens to wake first. I’m not going to lie and say that because I’ve “accepted” it, that means I, too, wake up with gusto. No, that would be false. But I am going to share with you the practices we’ve adopted as a household to cope.
I’m going to give this one to you first so that you will be awake enough to get through the rest of the list. Make your coffee the night before. Get one of those coffee pots with a timer. Set it every night like it’s your religion.
2. Go to bed early
All of you. Now some people might tell me that I should keep my kids up later, then maybe they would sleep in. Ahhh, the innocent advice of people who don’t live in your house. Experts will actually tell you that “sleep begets sleep” and that putting your kids to bed earlier can actually help combat early rising. Well, I won’t say that putting my kids to bed earlier helps them sleep later, but it does help them get the sleep they need. And when they get the sleep they need, there are fewer tantrums, emotional breakdowns and crying. And that’s just from me. Haha – no seriously, they’re in a much better frame of mind and since I’m home with them all day, so am I.
Also, “go to bed early” also applies to you as a parent. This is one you’re just going to have to swallow. Gone are the days of staying up until 2:00 in the morning because you’re a “night person”. I get that – but you’re going to have to go to bed early to if you want to survive this. Going to bed at 2:00 AM and getting up at 5 freaking 30 in the morning can only be sustained for so long. I’ve been known to go to bed at 9:00 PM or earlier during the really rough patches, but I typically go to bed by 10:00 PM so I can get 7-8 hours a night. (This comes as no surprise to my college friends who made fun of me for going to bed at 11:00 PM. I need my sleep!!)
3. Have a morning routine you can ease into
For us, this has always meant that we wake up slowly on the couch. Somehow, we started the tradition of reading books with our oldest first thing in the morning and it has stuck, nearly 5 years later. We all get our drinks – coffee for the adult, milk for the kiddos – and we sit on the couch and read books . . . sometimes for up to an hour! It’s a slow start and it helps us (well, mostly the parents) have time to wake up and adjust.
4. Take turns with your spouse or significant other
Now I know this won’t work for everyone’s schedules, but it has really been a saving grace in our household. I’ll be honest, after my first year of being a mom and the one to wake up with my son to feed him every morning, I was pretty bitter by the time he was weaned. After I was no longer needed as a food source, my husband and I started taking turns getting up with him. Wow, was that a life saver! Now we have two kids and the routine is still in place. I get up with the kids Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and my husband gets up with them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We alternate Saturdays. The person who doesn’t get up with them goes on duty at 8:00 AM to give the other time to shower and get ready for the day. Maybe this is too rigid for your lifestyle, but it is saving our lives! We each get time in the mornings if we choose, to exercise or have a moment of quiet, or to sleep in if we need it.
5. Keep your kids well-rested
This ties in with putting them to bed early, but it also includes honoring nap and/or quiet time. Over-tiredness is a real thing, my friend, and it will eventually come back to bite you in the you know where. Keeping kids up late or skipping naps in the hopes that they’ll be so tired they’ll just sleep in tomorrow usually backfires. Whenever that happens, my kids seem to wake up even earlier the next day and THEN they’re running on even less sleep, are even more cranky, and can be even harder to get to sleep. During some sleep regressions, we’ve made a practice of driving our kids around in the car just to make sure they get in a nap to get caught up on sleep. Well-rested kids are just nicer to be around.
When my oldest son was 2 ½ we started to use an OK to Wake! clock. This was a total game changer. The green light comes on when it’s ok to get up and we started setting it for 7:00 AM. My son would play in his bed until it was okay to get up. It totally gave us that extra hour . . . that is until my second son was born. He doesn’t quite “get it” yet, and since they share a room, we’ve set it back to 6:30 AM and are back to waking up early until he does!
Those of us with early risers can look forward together with hope to the days we have to drag our teenagers out of bed! Until then, bottoms of coffee cups up!