Am desperate - any ideas on how to get a 6 and a 4 year old to not wake up so early??

(52 Posts)
ceebeegeebies Sun 31-Mar-13 20:15:01

Both DC are excellent sleepers (which I am very grateful for) but insist on waking up generally anytime between 5 and 6am sad

After 6 and a half years of no lie-ins, I think I have reached the end of my tether. Me and DH are permanently tired, snappy at each other etc.

They share a bedroom and they know they are not allowed in our bedroom until 7am (at weekends) but they always wake us up by going to the toilet, talking, playing (--or killing each other--). Particularly if they wake up at, say 5.30, they cannot play nicely with each other for 90 minutes in their bedroom hmm

One of us could have a lie-in whilst the other one takes them downstairs and we do do this occasionally but both me and DH are generally 'once awake, have to get out of bed' people.

They don't have particularly early bedtimes, and over the Easter weekend these have slipped anyway...yet they are still awake at the crack of dawn!

Please help - any advice would be greatly appreciated smile

joolsangel Thu 04-Apr-13 16:01:54

my little girl generally wakes between 5.30 (sometimes earlier) and 7. if I feed her a bowl of porridge before bed and put the heating on in her room from about 5.30am she tends to sleep a little later so I do this at weekends if I want a bit more sleep. generally im awake at 5.30 anyway so I don't mind too much but I do hate it at weekends when she springs into our room at 5.30. so feed her up before bedtime and turn heating on!!!!! I think tho every child is different and they all go thru stages - good luck!

LackaDAISYcal Thu 04-Apr-13 12:14:42

sorry blueshoes, after fanbase's post it seemed like another criticism. But ikwym about the mindset, often we can convince ourselves that we are more or less tired or ill than we actually are and a good old fashioned dose of PMA can work wonders. As does the mantra "this too shall pass, this too shall pass"

hopefully the OP is off getting some well earned sleep smile

blueshoes Thu 04-Apr-13 10:28:17

I am sure the OP can speak for herself, if she cares to answer the question (which she does not have to).

It is a valid strategy, if OP is tired but not truly 'exhausted', to change her mindset as a way of coping. After all, this stage does not last forever. Sometimes stoicism is the way forward and the most sensible tactic.

KLou111 Thu 04-Apr-13 07:55:47

And fwiw, the definition of exhausted is 'extremely tired', which is how the op (and I) feels!
If she feels exhausted, she is bloody well exhausted!

ShiftyFades Wed 03-Apr-13 23:18:01

I really feel for you OP and I hope you can find a solution to suit your family.

As for the people criticising the OP on her terminology: dear God, this isn't AIBU, it's a behaviour thread, the OP is asking for help to change her DCs behaviour. The words she uses are not emotive in any way and she is describing how SHE feels. You can not, for one moment, know how she feels and decide if the words are correct. If she feels desperate / exhausted then that is how she feels.

Lay off and "if you can't say anything nice constructive or helpful in this case don't say anything at all".

blueshoes Wed 03-Apr-13 22:32:31

Daisy, you have a medical condition, OP does not. This is not a dressing down. I only asked a question.

LackaDAISYcal Wed 03-Apr-13 22:10:42

can we give the poor OP a break? she feels she is exhausted and came looking for support and ideas for getting her DSs to sleep longer, not a dressing down on the exact definition of exhausted and competitive tiredness from other posters.

If she is tired enough that it is causing her distress and to feel that her quality of life is affected, then surely that is enough. FFS, when did MN get to be so nasty that a call for support is sneered at and derided?

And I say this as someone with a medical condition that DOES cause me immense fatigue and exhaustion to the point that I cannot work or be left in charge of my own children, but it is my exhaustion and the way it affects me is my experience. If the OP feels exhausted, she feels exhausted. Why are posters trying to deny her her own feelings?

blueshoes Wed 03-Apr-13 21:57:08

Ceebee, when you say you are exhausted, what does that mean.

Do you struggle to keep your eyes open if you watch television. Do you get muddled and forgetful. Can you trust yourself to operate heavy machinery or drive a car.

I am curious because both my children were horrendous sleepers for years and so I understand what it is like to be woken up umpteen times a night AND early. But I would not say I was 'exhausted' during the day, just occasionally a little lightheaded. Fully functional and still went to work. Same with dh who needs more sleep.

ceebeegeebies Wed 03-Apr-13 21:43:44

Thanks Daisy - you have summed it up really well smile

LackaDAISYcal Wed 03-Apr-13 14:45:41

I think you're being a bit harsh fanbase.

The OP hasn't given enough information about her evening routine to suggest that she could go to bed earlier (and sometime it's not an option if there are chores to be done etc after getting the DC to bed). And you have no idea how sleep or lack of it effects other people, only how it affects you. The OP says she is exhausted and it's really not for anyone else to say "you're not, how can you be, look at me, I get less sleep, whine whine". I don't get home until 11pm five days a week and it takes me a good hour to wind down after it so early nights are not an option here, and my poor DH who gets up at ridiculous o'clock with our youngest goes to bed by 9pm every night, but he is just someone who needs lots of sleep and who is affected by ealry mornings so is exhausted even after seven hours. And four and a half years of this have not adjusted his body clock in any way; his sleep requirement has remained the same. He needs 9 hours, and four years of sleep defecit really does take its toll.

I'm snappy because I'm sick of the smug "I love my bed/ I need my sleep" comments from other people, all over the place, assuming they need/ deserve more sleep than those who have non sleepers, and because I find it crazy that somebody who could be having 8 hours sleep a night and a lie in once a week, alternating with her DH/P, is describing herself as exhausted - people who are exhausted sleep through kid noise if they know their partner is looking after the kids this morning, and people who are exhausted can get back to sleep standing up every chance they get, and people who are exhausted go to bed early to catch up every once in a while, to become less exhausted, if they know that going to bed will get them 8 hours sleep!

However I do have sympathy for early risers - I have one (not the same one who doesn't sleep at night). It is common sense to catch some early nights yourself - not every night, as the need for some evening adult time is important too, but a couple of times a week. It is also common sense to alternate lie ins.

Reward charts for being quiet may work, but you have to have reasonable expectations - if you know they will wake at 5am then you can't expect them to be quiet til 7am, but a simple, clear, mutually desired reward (like an outing they both want to go on) could be enough to incentivise them not to fight and be loud til 6am. Mark the desired time on a regular clock for the younger one if he can't tell the time - no need for a gro/ bunny clock by 4 really ( and my kids changed the time on theirs to wake the bunny)

Cheap MP3 players with headphones and their music or story tapes on them help pass the early hour before approved get up/ noise making time.

We used those strategies for our now 5 year old (who has always been a 5am get up boy) from age 3 and they worked pretty much immediately.

I have been to 2 different paediatricians for help with DC3 MrsB74 and been offered (and turned down) medical sedation - its not affecting his development, he's well ahead of his age and not showing signs of over tiredness, it's just how it is and I try to make sure it only affects me, though it is very, very, very hard, he will grow out of it.

From my perspective the OP is fed up of getting up early, not "exhausted and desperate" because of the choice she is making not to get more sleep when that option is very obviously available to her, and saying she is exhausted is a bit like saying you are "maimed" if you've pricked your finger with a needle.

This is not competitive, it is simply factual. Pointing out somebody is exaggerating and furthermore is actively choosing not to take up the obvious solutions to her own problem is not the same as competing.

FantasticDay Tue 02-Apr-13 13:27:09

Rotate the lie-ins! You get up on Saturday with them, dp on Sundays. Or you could get them both a DS.....

They are still only little and expecting them to be quiet while you lie in is unrealistic. My ds wakes often before 6 but is only expected to stay quiet until 6. It's a luxury to expect to stay in bed til past 7am when you have young kids. I go to bed at 9.30 to compensate for the early mornings. Before you look round they will be 10 and you'll spend the next 8 years forcing them to get up in the mornings.
The plus side of early waking children is you get so much done before school that there's not a lot of jobs to do in the evening. By 6.15 I've usually put in a load of washing, sorted the dry washing from the day before, emptied the dishwasher and done the dcs breakfast.

LizzyDay Tue 02-Apr-13 12:18:15

I'm intrigued about the internal body clock thing. What cues does the body use? Does it distinguish between GMT and when the clocks go forward?

It can't be daylight, because that changes constantly all year round.

It could possibly be something like 'hours since I last ate'? Maybe try feeding them later?

steppemum Tue 02-Apr-13 09:28:51

my youngest is 5 and for the first time this Easter we have both had lie ins together.

Mine are not allowed out of their rooms until 7. The youngest has a rabbit clock (rabbit wakes up at 7)
The girls recently went into their own rooms, which has helped, as they will very occasionally lie in, and never on the same day.

We have allowed ours to go downstairs and put the TV on. They are not allowed down til 7.

We have worked hard on the creeping downstairs, no flushing the loo before 7 (unless it is a poo) quiet doors etc. We worked on all that to stop the whole house being woken by a 6 am loo stop, but it works for holiday mornings too.

I have found the bed later argument hopeless, mine have an internal body clock, which means even if they are late to bed for 2 weeks (and over this school holiday they have all been 1/2 hour ish later to bed) they wake up at 7.

The other thing I would say is that for me a quiet morning with a cup of tea and the newspaper for an hour in bed is very restful, child free hour, and is nearly as good as a lie in smile

ArabellaBeaumaris Tue 02-Apr-13 09:17:12

Story tapes. My 4 yo has a stack of audio CDs in her bedroom & puts them on when she wakes. She will happily potter quietly in her bedroom then, it is brilliant.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 09:13:27

Can't they just go downstairs and watch telly? Leave out some breakfast for them and let them get on with it.

MrsB74 Tue 02-Apr-13 09:09:10

Feel your pain OP, think it's because they share a room, which I presume you cannot change? My twins (nearly 4) share a room and chat for hours at bedtime, even when exhausted. They are pretty good at not waking each other in the mornings and not getting up too early all the time, but I think they inherited my bodyclock, preferring to lie in a bit. Maybe it's more of a boy thing? My step son was a real early bird and used to go downstairs and watch tv for a little while til we came round a bit (we don't tend to have the house alarm on), as a teenager now he is completely nocturnal and rarely up before lunch, so it will improve for you. My DH and I take turns to attempt a lie in at weekends, doesn't always work, but if you keep trying you will train yourself to relax. If nothing else take that time to maybe go and chill out in the bath or something. As for Fanbases problems, you seriously need some help to sort out your little one's sleep - no wonder you are snappy!

ceebeegeebies Mon 01-Apr-13 21:46:59

Thank you to those that have defended me smile Fanbase I didn't intend this to be a 'competitve tiredness' thread and I am sorry you are so offended by the wording of my post - however, that is how I feel and I am not going to apologise for that.

It is the 'being quiet' that we seem to have an issue with it - my 2 just find it impossible and I am not convinced any amount of bribery is going to be able to overcome their natural way of living which is full-on and loud hmm but may be worth a try.

As for going downstairs, we have the house alarm on at night and I don't trust them to be able to turn it off without it going off which is why they are not allowed downstairs without one of us.

Anyway, back to work tomorrow with a 6am alarm call so irrelevant for the next few days!

13lucky Mon 01-Apr-13 21:00:55

The OP was asking for suggestions - not doing a 'tiredness' competition thread. She is exhausted and at the end of her tether - otherwise she wouldn't have bothered to post. I feel sorry for what you are going through Fanbase but don't take that out on OP. Ceebeegeebees - I also have a 6 and 4 year old - both wake up early but have been 'trained' that they must be quiet and not wake us up until 7am (8am at weekends has just been introduced!!!). They are pretty good at this and we tell them each night when they go to bed what time we expect them to be quiet until. We have done this with them since the youngest was only 2.3 years old so I do think this can work. HOWEVER, my two do not share a room and I can see how this could be a problem. Could you allow them out of their bedroom into the lounge or wherever as long as they do it quietly after a specific time, eg 6am - or whatever is acceptable to you? (I also agree that some children, no matter what time they go to bed, they still wake at the same time...I have two here too!). Good luck.

KLou111 Mon 01-Apr-13 20:42:40

I guess you are exhausted moreso in that case MrTumbles.

Oh I know... Its not competitive tiredness really though, its just the ridiculous level of exaggeration - if you could be getting 8 hours uninterrupted sleep and are choosing not to, then claiming to be "desperate and exhausted" is like a resounding slap in the face to those who don't have the option of a reasonable stretch of sleep.

If the OP had used less wildly OTT language in her post and just said she was tired of the 5am waking and did anyone have any tips, I would have posted tips...

It is not the OPs fault of course, I am heartily sick of RL friends claiming they are too exhausted to do XYZ because one of their children woke at 5.30am, and expecting sympathy... I guess it has become a red mist trigger and I finally snapped.

Nobody said it was ideal, it is however, not the cause for desperation and exhaustion to have children who are naturally early risers and deny their parents the luxury of a lie in together - esp given they could perfectly well have individual lie ins once a week if they really were "exhausted".

The language was what made me angry and as I've been up trying to settle my youngest for a solid 2 hours already and my DH has just gone to take over, and even when he does settle he will wake again in a couple of hours, I am not going to apologise for thinking that being woken at 5am after a good night's sleep is no cause for "desperation".

ICanTotallyDance Mon 01-Apr-13 19:49:25

Hmm... that is a bit tricky. In my experience, exercise helps children sleep longer as well as better so I think it's still worth a try but it may not work.

LizzyDay Mon 01-Apr-13 19:31:03

I don't think there's any need for competitive tiredness Fanbase.

The fact is that children waking up well before their parents do is not ideal on any level, and the OP is looking for helpful suggestions.

Oh it is a load of crap though - I don't need less sleep than you just because I get less. So many people trot that out "oh I couldn't do that, I need my sleep!" So do I. Just because my children don't let me sleep doesn't mean I only need 4 broken hours. I'm not saying you're not tired, but desperate and exhausted, hardly likely - if you were you'd go to bed when your last child did. Nobody needs to sleep in til 7am - most of us would like to, nobody needs to.

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