Kids are creatures of habit and they tend to fall into routines very easily. This is awesome for parents who want to instill a schedule and a sense of order. But, by the same token, they can get stuck in habits that are not preferable.
For example, if you and your family get up 5 days a week at
They are accustomed to a certain schedule and don’t necessarily understand the concept of sleeping in. So, what do you do if your child doesn’t sleep in?
Setting up expectations will not guarantee an obedient child but if you don’t let them know what you want them to do, you can’t expect them to do it. So, tell them, “In the morning, mommy and daddy want to rest a little longer. We expect you to stay in your bed and we want for you to sleep, as well.”
2Apps and tech
There are some great new apps and standalone tech devices that can help your child monitor his or her own sleep habits. You can set alarms and reminders for children, so they know when they are allowed to get out of their bed.
These are especially helpful for younger kids whose concepts of time are probably not well-developed. It is very difficult for a toddler to have any real idea of what time it is so you should simply divide it into “Time to be in bed” and “Time to be out of bed” and not try too much to make them read a clock, etc.
3 Avoid meals and caffeine before bedtime
It’s best to avoid anything to eat or drink (especially caffeinated beverages) before bed. Digestion during sleep can cause restlessness and many times, kids wake up to use the restroom and then have trouble getting back to sleep.
Put yourself in a 3-year-old’s shoes. Once children are awake, they are awake. They are ready to tackle the day even if mom and dad are not. This is especially true if the room is bright or if there are lots of toys or other stimuli. This brings us to #3.
4Keep the room dark and sleep-ready
The fact is that kids associate sunshine with getting up. If the sun is up at 6:30am, then it must be time to get up! As we already discussed, they have an underdeveloped sense of time. They don’t understand time in the way that adults do.
Darkened curtains or blinds, or even making sure the bedroom is not in a particularly sunny area of the house, are simple ways to keep them in bed longer. In addition, put away toys, electronics so that they are out of sight and out of mind. If a child awakes and has access to his iPad, for example, he is not likely to roll back over to snooze longer.
5Reward them for self-care
Sleep is restorative and healthy. Of course, too much sleep can be a problem too. But, if your kids can sneak in an extra hour or two on the weekends, that is good for everyone. Teach your child all about self-care while they are still young.
Talk about sleep and relaxation in the context of their health benefits and the healing power of rest. When your child sleeps in on Saturday, say, “I am so glad that you are getting extra rest and caring for your brain and body!” then take them out to breakfast or give some other reward which will positively reinforce this behavior.
If all else fails, try and remember that someday in the not-so-distant future you may just miss rising early on Saturday with your children. Try and keep your time with your littles in perspective. It’ll be gone faster than you realize.
So, if you must be up at the crack of dawn with your child, try and make it quality time and find ways to see the beauty of the moment. Make muffins together, sit outside and watch the sunrise, go for an early morning stroll or curl up on the couch with some books.
Parenting is full of ups and downs and we often wish desperately for one phase to end only to realize that there was a lot of beauty in those moments.