Can't keep doing this - 3yo ridiculous early morning behaviour

(25 Posts)
imwithspud Thu 03-Mar-16 05:56:45

Dd is 3 and more and more lately she has been coming into our bed at around 5am. Sometimes this is fine and she goes straight back to sleep, but sometimes she just messes about, fidgeting, rolling around, messing with the covers etc.

I have just completely lost it with her after she kept messing around, dp told her quite firmly to go to sleep as it was still night time which resulted in hysterics at fucking 5:30 in the morning. This resulted in her 9 month old sister on the next room (their room, they share) being woken up too and at this time she is notoriously difficult to settle back off to sleep. DD1 often refuses to go back to her bed at this time, causes a scene which also wakes up the baby. As they share a room I can't just take dd to her bed and leave her there as it would then wake her up.

I am so tired, and dd is tired too - her behaviour as a result is awful. I just don't understand what her problem is. We have a gro-clock. Which worked like a dream at first but now no matter how much we reiterate the importance of 'staying in bed until the sun' she doesn't listen. She goes to bed at around 7-7:30, we've tried later but it makes no difference. When she stays at gp's houses she doesn't do this.

She also often gets up during the night at least once, comes into our room - I take her back to bed and she's straight back to sleep so the process only takes around 30 seconds. So not so bad, and if it weren't for the ridiculously early mornings I wouldn't mind, but I'm still getting broken sleep as a result. This kerfuffle can sometimes (but not always) result in the baby being woken too.

I'm fed up with this messing about and refusal to stay in her bed, it's affecting everyone's moods. I have no patience throughout the day because I can't get a decent sleep. Not sure what/if any advice can be given or if I'm being unreasonable. I know there are people out there with children who sleep much less than this and they cope. I'm just finding myself increasingly angry at dd/this situation and needed a rant.

PennyHasNoSurname Thu 03-Mar-16 06:04:58

Id put the baby back in with you for a while.and go back to basics with the gro clock.and maybe a sticker chart.

Fairylea Thu 03-Mar-16 06:09:36

Lots of people will tell you 5 / 5.30am is far too early and suggest lots of ideas to tackle it.

For me however both of my children (10 years apart!) have always been early risers and for no reason whatsoever have always started the day between 4.45 and 5.30am. I've tried everything, later bedtimes, earlier bedtimes, groclocks, bribery etc. Nothing works. The eldest is now nearly 13 and whereas most of her friends are getting into the "sleep forever" teen mentality she is still up bright and early at 6am at the latest at the weekend. shock

I do think for lots of young children 5am is morning. The way I handled it was just to go with it, the more stressed I got about it the more upset everyone got and that was more stressful than just getting up and on with it.

My youngest is nearly 4 and has autism and developmental difficulties so doesn't sleep much at all and I rely on things like the iPad and CBeebies to keep him busy in the early hours so I can doze on the sofa alongside him (light enough so that I'd wake if he moved off the sofa to get into mischief!)

Lack of sleep is really awful though, I do understand! flowers

MrsUnderwood Thu 03-Mar-16 06:09:47

Are you me? My 3 year old has just started doing this. We have a Groclock as well and she's stopped paying attention to it. She either whines about wanting to go downstairs or comes into our bed and fidgets. We've got an 11 week old baby cosleeping with us so the bed is full! You have my sympathy, we've told her to go back to bed and the result has been tantrums, I'd be willing to ride it out but dh is a big softy.

imwithspud Thu 03-Mar-16 06:10:08

Thing is we can't fit a cot in our room and she's too big for a crib/basket now. I'm thinking I may just have to be firm with dd1 and suffer through it with dd2, short term pain for long term gain? I Don't like being a shouty impatient mum but that is what I'm turning into and I hate myself for itsad

imwithspud Thu 03-Mar-16 06:17:00

She's still tired after waking at this time, constantly yawning and eye rubbing through the day, and her behaviour is horrid, if it's not being deliberately defiant it's the crying over every tiny little thing, God forbid me if I dare to say no to something. Which of course is probably age related, but I've noticed a definite difference in her behaviour on the days where she sleeps in a bit even till 6am (still early for me but manageable). There's not really time to get her in bed earlier of an evening, we can sometimes manage 6:30pm bedtime but any earlier will be a challenge due to dinner, bath etc.

I try to go with the flow but it's hard when both children are tired and whiney all day. I feel like such a crap mum as a result.

SueLawleyandNicholasWitchell Thu 03-Mar-16 06:18:12

If she doesn't do it at grandparents house then she can control it.
Can you put a bit of plastic tape across your door as a reminder to her when she comes along that she isn't to come in? You can explain it to her when she is awake during the day. Maybe make a picture with her of 3 things she can do instead and tape the picture to the wall. Get her to role play pretending to sleep then pretending to wake up and what to do. 3 things that don't make noise - maybe choosing a teddy from a little box by her bed. Or looking at the stars (get some sticker ones that glow on the ceiling) or having a drink of water (put some in a sippy cup by her bed)
Get some rewards going for each morning she doesn't come in. Lack of sleep is horrible.

Lovelydiscusfish Thu 03-Mar-16 06:30:41

Lack of sleep is horrible, but she isn't actually choosing to wake up. Yes she's choosing to get up, but I wouldn't really want to lie, awake, in a bed for potentially hours with nothing to do. For this reason I always feel sorry for children until they have learned to read (apologies if your daughter can already read independently - I'm assuming not, because of her age). But she could still do some quiet things when she wakes that would not wake the baby, such as stickers, etchasketch, look at books, etc.

I would also, if I were you, introduce a sticker chart with a decent reward if she can stay in bed for a sufficient number of days. I'm not all that keen on sticker charts for behaviours for which there's an actual moral imperative (not hitting, etc), but for practical stuff like bedtimes I think they're fine, and can be really effective.

NotNob Thu 03-Mar-16 06:35:39

I'm watching this thread too, OP, my 3 year old DC is the same. Currently co sleeps from when he wanders in throughout the night. However if it's later than 04:30, he won't easily settle. He shares a room with DC1 and I don't want him waking him if I send him back.

I've arranged for dc1 to go to my mums for a couple of nights next week so I can tackle this head on as I fully expect a noisy time while I deal with this but it can't continue. I'm knackered and grumpy.

Bringiton2016 Thu 03-Mar-16 06:44:43

I think that you may have given her mixed messages about coming into your room. Like you say, go back to basics with the rules. Make sure the sun is set at a reasonable time, maybe a bit earlier than you'd like so it doesn't feel like an impossible wait for her.

I think with them sharing a room it is going to be hard. My son wakes about 5am but plays quietly in his room until we get up. Is there somewhere she can go and play safely when she wakes up? I realise that she's probably a bit young yet.

caravanista Thu 03-Mar-16 06:48:40

I'm with Fairylea - some children are just early risers. The best way to deal with it is to change your behaviour - go to bed earlier yourself and expect to be woken early. That way anything after 5am is a bonus!

RabbitSaysWoof Thu 03-Mar-16 07:01:17

It if the ops dd was naturally an early riser or someone who just didn't need much sleep then her mood would be the same even on the days she wakes early. If my child has less than 12 hours he is miserable all day, I don't get the pitiful stories of children waiting in bed bored, they would fall back to sleep only children who don't need the sleep would lay there bored and those are the children who would still be happy all day getting up early.

imwithspud Thu 03-Mar-16 07:52:01

Thanks for all the advice and it's good to know it's not just me. I agree about mixed messages. I have always said consistency is key with most things parenting related, but it's quite difficult to remember that in practice at times!

I'm going to try the sticker chart, and I'm going to stop her coming into our bed early morning, risks waking the smaller one up but I need to get this sorted.

She has some toys in her room, but they have a blackout blind so it's very dark in there even when it's light outside, I put the light on for her sometimes but only if the baby is awake and they entertain each other (baby in cot) whilst we wake up.

I know she is capable of sleeping past 5am because when we first got the gro-clock, I purposely woke at 5am and watched her, just to see what she did. She half woke, saw the sun wasn't up on her clock, rolled over and went to sleep. Whereas before she would be up as soon as her eyes opened rather than giving herself chance to dose off again. We currently have it set to 7am but keep meaning to make it earlier.

Thanks again for all the tips! I feel much better now I have a clearer head. Tired, but better!

DesertOrDessert Thu 03-Mar-16 08:25:51

Fairy nnnnoooooooooo I'm counting down the years til 5 am is the middle of the night again? Please tell me most teenagers body clocks reset????

spud if she's waking at 5, the groclock going at 7 is tooo long. Tell her you are going to move it earlier (maybe 5.15 initially) and that she is to stay quietly in bed til it changes. Then start creeping it backwards, maybe 10 mins every few days. Do this NOW before she starts being able to read numbers, and tells you you've changed the time......

I never tell mine to sleep, but do say everyone else wants to sleep, so he needs to lie quietly in bed.

DS is now old enough, when he gets up at the weekend (groclock set to 5.45, which is the time needed for school yawn) he gets himself to the kitchen, adds milk to the cereal left out ( or a croisent if we've been shopping), and a carton of juice and a piece of fruit all left out the night before. He then watches TV til I get up around 7 or 7.30. We started this at 6, but should have done it earlier (DH being away for 3 months, so no weekend nap for me started it)

Orangeanddemons Thu 03-Mar-16 08:36:16

My ds got up at 5.30 am every morning from about 18 months to about 3 1/2. It's just the way he was made. I think you have to accept it and go to bed earlier. I remember sitting in work about 10.30 am one day thinking I'd already been up 5 hours...

I was completely knackered all the time too

manateeandcake Thu 03-Mar-16 16:26:13

I feel for you, OP, and for anyone else going through this! I think there's something soul-destroying about being up before 6. Cbeebies and the Today programme haven't even started, apart from anything else. 3yo DD has been waking between 5 and 5.30 most days for several months. There is a definite correlation between early waking and challenging behaviour in her case. For this reason, and because later bedtime didn't help, we started putting her to bed earlier when we can so at least she could get more sleep. Ithas helped with her behaviour and certainly hasn't made her wake any earlier.

Believeitornot Thu 03-Mar-16 16:30:16

Maybe she doesn't do it at the grandparents because she's either tired from the day or the room is warmer or better blackout blinds.
Basically who knows.

Check that she's warm enough and not waking because of the temp dip at around 3am (usually if no heating on and child gets cold and therefore slowly cools down and can't resettle).

I doubt she's doing it on purpose - she is 3 and their logic works in mysterious ways.

I wonder why she wakes at night - does she snore?

UchimuraBabies Thu 03-Mar-16 16:48:02

Have you tried actually telling her why she needs to go back to bed? I know 3 might seem young to be using logic but when my son was young and doing this I told him that him 'coming into our bed and not sleeping is stopping mummy and daddy from getting to sleep, and if we don't get back to sleep we will all be very grumpy in the day. And you don't want us to be grumpy, do you?' I think I might have even said (this was a long time ago, he is 20 now!), 'so if you want me to be nice to you tomorrow, please go back to your own bed and go back to sleep'. (seriously it wasn't as sinister as that sounds written down!) I took him back to bed, tucked him in and told him what a good boy he was. And it worked!

Good luck, hope you can find what works for you.

DesertOrDessert Thu 03-Mar-16 17:04:36

Oh, and are you sure she isn't hungry?

imwithspud Thu 03-Mar-16 20:19:24

I agree that 7 is too long of a wait if she's waking at 5. Seemed to work well at first but it's clearly not now.

There is definitely something soul destroying about being up before 6. Anything before 6 is very much night time territory for me. Glad it's not just me who struggles with it.

She is definitely warm enough, her bed is by the radiator in her room and we have the heating set to auto constantly at the moment so if it drops below a certain temperature it comes back on, it's very rarely cold in our house right now - even in the early morning.

I agree she's not doing it on purpose, I just find it so hard to remember that. Three year old logic leaves me utterly baffled at times! Not sure about waking at night, she snores a bit - maybe that has something to do with it. Sometimes if I'm awake when she wakes I watch her on the video monitor and it can be as simple as her not being able to get her duvet arranged the way she wants it, or not being able to find her 'kitty' cuddly toy which is usually on the floor or lost in her bed somewhere.

Will definitely try explaining things to her in a matter of fact way, I have found with other things that she can and does absorb information this way. She knows for example, that she is to hold my hand and not run when walking through a car park, as there are cars which could hit her and really hurt her.

I don't think she's hungry, I mean she might be but she never complains of hunger when she does get up that early. If she is though what can I do? At least with DD2 I can just boob her back to sleep, it gets a trickier when they're older.

Lots of ideas to think about in this thread, thank you so much everyone for your honest but helpful replies. Really appreciate it.

Lovelydiscusfish Thu 03-Mar-16 23:29:28

I was chatting to dd's friend's mum on a play date recently, and she told me about how much success she'd had with her ds (nearly 4) who is an early waker. She sets aside a box of toys which are specifically for him to play with quietly until the rest of the family wakes (in his case, dinosaurs). She uses this in conjunction with a grow clock, to let him know when he can start to make more noise/interact with the rest of the family. In his case this works well.
As I said before, I really feel for you, OP. Lack of sleep is killing.

cornishglos Thu 03-Mar-16 23:38:51

Smart phone. Selfie stick. Cbeebies. Snuggle up together and you go back to sleep.

DesertOrDessert Fri 04-Mar-16 03:50:51

If she's hungry, feed her something just before bed (we used to do porridge or yoghurt) to tide her over.

minipie Fri 04-Mar-16 10:07:41

Our 3 yo goes through phases of waking early (and being horribly tired as a result). Here's what we find helps:

- Gro clock, and zero tolerance of disturbance before the sun shows. She is allowed to sit in bed and chat to her toys/look at books but that is it. Appreciate it is much trickier if the girls share though. Would that level of activity wake your 9mo?

- Nap in the day. Sounds counterintuitive but DD gets overtired easily and then she wakes more/earlier at night. A nap helps, as long as it's <1hr and not too late in the day. Or a 15 min catnap at c5pm, or a very early bedtime. Basically anything so that she's not completely overtired and fried at bedtime.

- Lots of chats about how our bodies need sleep to have energy, so she will have more fun of she sleeps, how we will be happier and do more fun things with her if she sleeps, etc.

- Talkback monitor so we can tell her to go back to sleep without going in to her. But that might wake your baby I imagine...

imwithspud Fri 04-Mar-16 11:23:03

Will consider some sort of filling snack in the evenings. Some nights we have dinner then shortly after it's time to go up for their bedtime routine so not always possible. But worth considering.

She would be fine to sit and chat in her bed with toys/books, that sort of low level noise is unlikely to wake the baby, I think anyway. Although she often insists on having the light on in her room so we are considering getting a small lamp instead.

She flat out refuses to nap at gome, but can and does fall asleep in the car occasionally.

Will definitely try the talking things through, she is definitely absorbing and understanding things more now.

We have a talk back monitor which we have used on occasion but she rarely listens.

This morning we were firm with her, she got up at half 5, tried to get into our bed so I took her back to her bed, explained that it was still night time and she is to stay in her bed. She screamed the place down (god knows what the neighbours must think) at first and kept getting up but we persisted and put her back in bed every time, eventually stayed there. The baby woke but was fine, wasn't fussed by the racket dd1 was making. Fingers crossed if we remain consistent it will sink in. Going to get sticker chart sorted soon so she has something to work towards.

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