Early Riser

Let me start out this post with a warning: There may be nonsensical phrases and misspellings. But I have a good excuse. I haven’t slept past 5 a.m. in  … I don’t know how long! My son Grant is 2 and his new wakeup time is 5 a.m. – if I’m lucky. On Saturday he got up at 4:25. I’ve had enough!

I don’t really have a problem with him getting up early — I have a problem with him waking everyone up early. His 4-year-old sister moans, “Grant! I want to sleeeeeep! Be quiet!” And the neighbors (we’re in an apartment building) complain. I can’t blame them. He is loud. He dumps out the contents of his toy box, his laundry basket, the play fridge and the bookshelf. (They now move to the hallway every evening before bed — except the bookshelf which is just too heavy.) He used to empty out all the dresser drawers before we installed child locks on all of them. He jumps on his bed and thuds on the ground (it was worse when he was in the crib tho — bigger drop, louder thud).  He yells out, “Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!” He jumps on his sister and says “Play! Play!” She yells. She screams …. He throws a few more books around … He catapults himself off the bed onto the floor pillow … THUD!

Here’s what else I’ve tried (and am still doing):

• Covered the window with tin foil. Not attractive, but at least the sun (or a street light) can’t be the reason he wakes early. He still manages to play in the dark.

• Bought a clock and instructed that wake-up time is 7 a.m. (Sister knows how to spot the “7″; and this worked on her when she was his age. With Grant, I actually set the clock a half hour ahead so it reads 7 but it’s really 6:30 which is a time my husband and I can handle.)

• Ignoring him completely.

• Going in and lying down with him.

• Rewarding with stickers, Diego viewing, and dates (his favorite snack)  if he stays quiet till 6:30. (Actually promising to reward — he’s never actually done it.)

• Putting him to bed earlier. (The Dr. Weissbluth philosophy of sleep begets sleep)

• Putting him to bed later.

• Cutting his nap down to an hour. Cutting his nap altogether.

There has to be a solution!!! Any moms out there have any? I’ll try anything. My husband will thank you. My neighbors will thank you and my daughter will thank you!

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  1. by Kristen

    On February 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Grant is so cute, though! My 3-year-old is also guilty of this behavior, but now he’s turned into a regular 6:30 a.m. riser. Life is much better after 6:30 a.m.

  2. by Aubrey

    On February 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I am right there with you. We started dealing with similar wake times shortly after my son turned two and have just recently found some solutions (he’s three now). My best advice: keep a sleep journal! For our son, keeping a journal of his sleep habits helped us to realize his perfect bedtime (8:15) and also how many hours of sleep we can expect from him (9). The other thing that has helped me is to just let it go. I get so tense and upset in the morning when it’s yet another early day that I get solution-happy. My son wakes up early and I have to learn to accept it! Best wishes on finding the right solution for you and your family.

  3. by Robin

    On February 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    We had the same situation with our son. He woke up at the crack of dawn no matter what time he went to bed. Sometimes it was 5am, sometimes 4:30. I would say he didn’t sleep until 6am until he was over 4. We tried using the clock picture, that he should stay in bed until the clock looks like the drawing, but that didn’t work. There is no morning light in his room so we did not know what was waking him so early. I was delirious for 4 years. As he got older he understood that no TV goes on until 7am so he eventually figured out that there was nothing fun to do before then. All I can say is one day it will change. He is 10 and he slept until almost 9am yesterday (Sunday). Relief comes eventually!

  4. by marilyn czape

    On February 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Tell him grannie will not come to visit until he sleeps till 6:30. (Grannie can’t stand to get up any earlier.) But then he is so cute……..don’t know if I can stick to that. :-)

    Did I ever tell you about my oldest child who did not sleep through the night till age 4 1/2. Makes one cranky for sure.

  5. by Arna

    On February 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I am a mum of eight and the best thing I found over the years for this type of problem (and I KNOW what a problem it can be!)is to relax as was mentioned in another comment. BUT having said that I must say it is next to impossible to relax when a child is running the roost or should I say behaving like a ROOSTER!
    To help me relax and clear my mind is a technique called EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique.
    This has been amazing for me it relaxes my body and gives me clarity so as to work out the best solution for this particular child and for myself.
    There is quite a bit about EFT on the net. a simple routine of tapping on acupressure points around the body. Quite easy to learn and remembr and the great thingis it is REALLY effective on children for all different issues. GOOD LUCK

  6. by adrienne

    On February 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I know this may seen like a step backwards, but a crib would possibly keep him contained.

    We’ve had success with making our cribs into forts (http://babytoolkit.blogspot.com/2008/01/naptime-laying-low-in-fort-ranger.html) and using a clock with wake up lights (http://babytoolkit.blogspot.com/2009/04/toddlers-see-lightteach-me-time-clock.html).

    Our 2yo takes a book or two to bed (crib fort) with her and often entertains herself quietly until she hears us moving around the house. I suspect that has more to do with temperament than any parental magic.

    Good luck!

  7. by Audrey Brashich

    On February 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Well, I can tell you what worked for us: Sleep Consultant.

    I’ve actually used two for my older son because he was that bad… and we were that badly off. I was TERRIFIED that it was going to be tough on him and us. That it would ruin his sunny demeanor. That he’d cry until he’d vomit. And none of that happened.

    Under the guidance from the consultant: we kept a sleep log for like a week, she created a 10 day plan…and literally by like the 3rd or 4th night we had dramatic improvement.

    Best $250 we ever spent. Now everyone sleeps great.

    I can tell you more if that’s a path you’d consider!

  8. by Brooklyn

    On February 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Do you think you gave the Weissbluth method enough TIME to work? Since you asked, I vote try the earlier bedtime for a consistent two weeks! I find that when I think I’ve “tried everything” it can often be that I’ve tried many potentially effective strategies for too short a time…

  9. by Kiera

    On February 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Does he share the room with his sister? (Poor thing, lol) Maybe try the Supernanny trick when he wakes up before 7. Just take him back to his bed without talking to him consistantly until 7am until he learns the routine. Good Luck! I’m so lucky my kids were all good sleepers as babies and still are!

  10. by Katyjane

    On February 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    The book about sleep solutions by Elizabeth Pantley (I think) is amazing.

    With my son, we set up a “bed” on the floor of our room. When he wakes up, he comes into our room and asks us if he can get up. If it is too early, we tell him to lie down on the blanket and pillow we keep out for him. We keep a couple of books nearby, a sippy cup of water, and some quiet toys. Some days he falls back to sleep.

    Good luck!

  11. by Chandra

    On March 1, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Thanks all for your comments! Brooklyn you have a great point. I’m going to be consistent with the early bed time and see what happens. And Katyjane I’ll have to get Elzabeth Pantley’s book. I think I have it around the office somewhere actually. Thought my sleep issues were over when he was a baby! ha!

  12. by Amanda H

    On March 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

    How about an “OK to Wake” clock made for toddlers, like this:
    (not sure if it’s okay to post links, sorry if it’s not)

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