When your kids are waking too early, it can make them tired, cranky and just not very happy kids. I put our kids to bed early, at 7:00 and I want them to sleep the full 12 hour, so I teach them to naturally sleep in a little later.
Sleep is VERY important, so teaching our kids great sleep/wake patterns will benefit your child greatly. (enough sleep = healthier child… better ability to stay focused, happier children… there are so many benefits to getting enough sleep).
We have four kids and let me tell you, our kids were waking up EARLY! I had to do something when our older kids were waking up at 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning (still dark outside)- waking up their siblings and not getting their 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (our kids are still at the age where the need this much sleep at night because they are not napping anymore, except for our baby). If you are wondering how much sleep your child needs, take a look at this chart from web md:
Or this one from Wilson Elementary School(How the chart works… If they wake up ata certain time, they need to go to bed at the time below that time, depending on their age. So a 5 year old would need to go to bed by 6:45 if they had to be up at 6:00).
To help our kids learn good sleep habits, we came up with this idea and I have shared it with friends and family and they do it, too. It works! We finally figured out a way to keep our kids in bed longer (giving them the chance to get enough sleep for their bodies and minds)
This idea is to naturally set our children’s internal clocks to a time that is more suiting to their schedule (with preschool and grade school). It allows their bodies to sleep until it is time to wake up
After you determine an appropriate wake-up time, you need to practice that number with your kids. If you want them to get up at 7:00, show them the number 7. Show it to them on paper. Show it to them on their clock. Show it to them in books. Have them practice writing it.
HOW TO DO THIS:
What you need:
- A digital clock
- A piece of paper (I use index cards. You can use anything!)
- Marker or crayon
WRITE JUST THE HOUR of the time you want the kids to come out of bed on your piece of paper. Write it big (a little bigger than the number on the clock).
6:00? Write 6
7:00? Write 7. (This is our ‘allowed out of bed’ time)
8:00? Write 8.
Now tape that paper over the MINUTES on your digital clock so that all that you are left seeing is the hour and the paper.
Here is what it looks like (sorry that my time was 4:00 when I took it )
Show your kids when the number on the clock (the hour) matches the number on their paper, they can come out of bed.
Here is a close-up:
I do not let our kids get out of bed before 7:00, for safety reasons. I don’t want them in their rooms playing when I do not know about it. I want them in their beds. (I made this rule after I had read this heart-breaking story, last year, about the little girl that died when her dresser fell on top of her while her parents were asleep in their room- it was one of those VERY HEAVY dresser/changing tables that everyone has. Her mom didn’t realize it until she (the mom) woke up for the day.
Her story has opened my eyes to the fact that dangers lurk where you don’t expect them, even with furniture that you would NEVER expect to fall over… same with toys…. you just never know which ones have hidden dangers, even if you don’t expect it). For that reason, I don’t want our kids awake without me knowing, so they stay in bed until 7:00…
OK- back to the post:
I think that our children have internal alarms because when I check on them if I am up at 6:00 am, if I am up, they will still be asleep. When the clock turns to 7, they come rushing into our room with a “Good morning, Mom!”
Oh- I should remind you that I didn’t start this until our kids were almost three years old and could understand it.
HOW TO TEACH THEM:
This part is important…
When they come out of their room the first few days early (and they will), just take them back to bed and say “You can come out at 7:00, when the number on the clock matches. Are they the same now? Ok, sweetheart- go back to bed.” (put them back into bed). Now what you will want to do is make sure that when it DOES turn seven, you go in and say “Ok! Its time to come out now! Its 7:00!! Great job!” Do this for over a week, until they get it.
As with anything, you need to remember that you have to TEACH your kids this new rule. You can not expect them to sleep until 7:00 tomorrow, just because you started this today. Give it a week or two and you will have them sleeping later.
Tip: Take it slowly If your child has been getting up at 5, don’t expect him/her to sleep until 7. You have to slowly do this. I would change the clock for this, too, so that at the real 5:30 (first few days) their clock would say 7 (or your goal hour). I would move it every few days over a few weeks until they were really waking up at 7:00. (Just my two cents)
Another completely different idea that a friend on Facebook gave me is to have your lamp set to a timer (like the kind that you get when you are going on vacation) and have it turn on at a certain time (example: 7:00 am). When the light goes on, they can get out of bed.
If you want to print this chart, click here:
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