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Help - almost 3 year old and 4.30am starts

(73 Posts)
mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:17:07

My DD has always been an early riser, around 6ish is normal. Recently though she has been waking up between 4.30 - 5.30 and NOT going back to sleep no matter what we do.

She goes to bed at half 7 with no problem. Any later she would be completely past it - we've tried.

She was breastfed til 14 months, then night time bottle, but hasn't had a bottle for ages now and has never had a dummy.

We have a gro clock AND a gro blind on her window, but she gets up out of her bed and into our room (which at the moment is light at 4.30! Those bloody noisy birds too!)

We're very relaxed about her being in our bed, we coslept until she was just over one and had no problems transitioning into her own space. We've tried letting her get in bed with us, putting her back in her bed with a story... and just about every other trick going. Some have said just ride it out and she will adjust but at the moment it seems like that will never happen 😴

I'm 15 weeks pregnant and utterly drained and DH works long hours so these ridiculously early starts to the day are killing us.

Sorry for the long post but ANY help or advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you x

strawberrypenguin Mon 17-Jul-17 06:19:18

We have a rule that we don't mind if they wake up before the fro clock says BUT they must stay in bed and either try to go back to sleep or play quietly.
It works for us!

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:24:27

strawberry that would be fantastic - if she would do as we asked her! She just wants to see us! She comes in and it's like a little morning chant of "I'm ready to go downstairs mummy. I'm ready to go downstairs daddy."

We say to her it's not time to go downstairs yet! It's still night time! We've taken her to see the clock, explained there's only one star left (I think she hates the clock if I ask her if the sun's out she usually has a mini meltdown) and then try to get her settled back down whether it's with us or in her own bed. She won't stay. She's wide awake and bouncing off all walls and desperate to go downstairs!

How awful would it be if I gave her my iPad with CBeebies on it and sent her back to her bed?!??

Cupcakegirl13 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:26:04

I find my early riser sleeps longer the earlier we put him to bed. 7.30 May be too late if she isn't napping in the day , try bringing bedtime forward a bit. We have always had a rule he has to stay in his bed until 6am. I'd also ditch the story at that early hour just a simple return to bed.

Mothervulva Mon 17-Jul-17 06:29:13

Are you firm about it not being the start of the day? Mine don't get to go downstairs until 7 and have to be quiet if they're awake before. They are 2 and 3.

CazY777 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:29:59

Sorry, no advice but I know how you feel. 3.45am wake up for my nearly 3 year old this morning, it's the light I think. We have a black out blind but it still let's in light around the edges. I'm seriously considering gaffer taping anywhere that let's in light. I'm not at work, thankfully, so hoping she will nap at lunch time so I can too.

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:30:09

Cupcake she does nap in the day - usually an hour after lunch but recently it's been in the morning due to the early starts - she just can't hold out til the afternoon.

Will try bringing her bedtime forward and perhaps trying a day with no nap?? I feel like that will be horrendous but might be needed?

WannaBe Mon 17-Jul-17 06:41:23

Rapid return and a hard-line approach.

So if she comes in you simply say "no, it's still bedtime," take her back to her bed and leave her there. Second time she comes in you take her back to her room and put her back to bed with no eye contact, simply ""still sleep time," and any other times thereafter you take her back with no comment, no interaction, no eye contact. And introduce a reward system for staying in her bed until get-up time.

The first day or two will be hard and she is likely to come back a few times. But she will soon learn that getting up at dead-of-night o'clock doesn't yield any attention and she will stay in her room.

One of the greatest reasons why parents have problems with their children's sleep is because they reward the behaviour for a quiet life. Every time you take her into your bed, or get up, or give her the iPad or allow her to go downstairs you are rewarding her for getting up early. She needs to learn that by getting up early there is no reward but by staying in her room there is.

At three she's old enough to learn, and if you still have 30 weeks of pregnancy to go now is the best time before there's a baby on the scene as well.

FWIW it's not a judgement. It's incredibly easy to fall into habits for a quiet life especially when things like sleep are concerned. It's with good reason that certain people use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. ;)

CazY777 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:48:24

I spent two hours telling her it was too early to get up, then gave up and came downstairs, it just doesn't work if it's already light.

dancemom Mon 17-Jul-17 06:48:46

Google "wake to sleep" method

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:51:22

Mother that's great that you have such obedient children! Yes we're quite firm but perhaps not enough to keep her in her room. I'm a teacher and DH is an RAF officer - we joke that we're super strict and disciplined with children/people in our jobs but when it comes to our DD we take a much "softer" approach - we don't ever raise our voices at her and we try to stay calm and reason with her rather than take an authoritarian approach, and in every other aspect of life she is a little angel, very well mannered, very happy and well balanced and (generally) does as she's told.

However if we told her she had to stay in her room she would not listen. I feel like the whole of upstairs would be ransacked. Without locking in her room I'm not sure how we can force her to stay in her room when all she wants is to come and see us.

*WannaBe thank you so much for the advice. You're totally right - we have in so many aspects fallen into doing what we can for an easy life. We do usually get up with her early. However I don't think that approach would work for us - she's always been allowed in our bed, we take the attachment parenting approach, and I really don't want her to feel like her body clock waking her up at 4.30 deserves a punishment of not being able to be with us - it's not really her fault she's woken up early if that makes sense. I understand if we desperately want the extra 2 hours sleep we would need to take a more hard line approach so do appreciate your advice. I was looking more for ways to help her sleep longer or soothe her back to sleep rather than banish her from being with us or force her into a situation she doesn't want to be in.

Caz it's good to hear we're not the only ones! The light mornings and noisy birds do not help. I'm thinking starting more days at nursery in September is going to be our saving... if we can get through the summer 😴

llangennith Mon 17-Jul-17 06:53:30

No advice but lots of sympathy. DGS did this for a while at a similar age. Nothing would convince him to go back to sleep. He'd tell me "I'm not tired. I've had enough sleep". My reply was "Well I haven't so go back to your room and go to sleep".
Sometimes he'd play quietly so I'd grab a 30 min nap till eventually he'd go back to sleep about 7.
We had a blackout blind and blackout lined curtains too!

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 06:57:43

llangennith so glad we're really not the only ones. So many have said she will just grow out of it but at the moment seems like a long road ahead.

dancemom googled - so alarm set for 4 to give her a quick soothe?? Worth a try!

CazY777 Mon 17-Jul-17 07:00:40

I'm looking forward to sleeping in the winter! There's no way I could banish her from the bedroom either, she would cry and wake up all the neighbours. And I find it really hard to get back to sleep once I'm fully awake.

ChristmasAccountant Mon 17-Jul-17 07:08:27

My 3 year old has been returned to his room at this kind of time with the iPad for company.... gives me at least another 45 mins in bed which (with a small baby who is up every couple of hours over night) is most definitely needed!

hopsalong Mon 17-Jul-17 07:22:13

How would you feel about putting a gate on her door? We did that with DS (not specifically so he couldn't come into bed with us, more so that he wouldn't go into the bathroom between us and hurt himself), and it was the only thing that encouraged him to stay in his own room playing. (Can hear him now!) It buys us about 30 mins more of sleep on average. Does she have plenty of toys/ books in her room to interest her?

Watching other suggestions with interest! Our problem (with a two-month old as well) seems to be that DS's total sleep requirement has collapsed recently, going from 12+ hours a day to 10 (one short nap). If we put him to bed at 7:30 he is up at 5, and so to get him to stay asleep until 6 or 7 he has to get to bed very late (after 9 last night, which is killing our evenings).

annandale Mon 17-Jul-17 07:31:11

I don't think the rapid return has to be seen as punishment for her - don't see it like that. To me having rules meant a very gentle environment because the rules did the shouting for me. If you are just popping her back into bed with 'not time yet' you're just helping her understand the rules. She is 3, and she knows she's pushing the boundaries like 3 year olds do, hence the meltdown if you point out the clock! She knows it's early, she doesn't need a chat, just do rapid return to help her understand the truth, that everyone needs sleep including her. Battles of words with 3 year olds are the reason the nation's hair dye and coffee manufacturers are in business. She knows, just stick to the plan without chat.

BugPlaster Mon 17-Jul-17 07:34:26

We've just got past this, had over a year of it and I really feel your pain. I don't know what stopped it. We tried everything too and it kills your energy and any good intentions you had for the day. We reduced nap but couldn't do without it and some days that just seemed to make it worse.
I agree with pp, firmly back to bed. We couldn't stick to this as he screamed sand shares a room with sibling but I honestly think this would have helped. Otherwise you could still be riding it out when the baby arrives. Good luck.cake

wowbutter Mon 17-Jul-17 07:40:05

From reading this thread, essentially you want advice on how to get more sleep, but when given it, you claim it's punishment or some other bull shit and goes against your beliefs?
Fine. Carry on being tired. You are not helping anyone by not dealing with this. Will you let her get up at 3am when the baby is up for milk? You've had great advice, take it!

And for the love of god, stop reading a story at ridiculous o'clock in the morning. It's still nighttime, go back to bed!

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 07:44:56

Thanks for all the suggestions/support. You're right if it continues when babies are here (it's twins to throw a spanner in the works!) it will be super difficult. Thanks Bug and good to know it eventually ends.

annandale you make a really good point! Especially as a teacher I so appreciate that children need rules and routine to learn and function in a secure environment. We've never been unnecessarily strict and I don't want to back her into a corner or force her into anything but the way you put it makes sense - firm but gentle - and I will give it a try.

hopsalong a gate might be worth a try as I do worry one day she is going to veer into the bathroom rather than come straight to us. Everything is put away safely but I don't like her being in there. She has lots of teddies and a few jigsaws in her room, majority of her toys are downstairs in her playroom. She has a million and one books on a big bookshelf in her room (I'm an English teacher and have so gone overboard) she loves getting them down and readingn them. Some lucky mornings she will bring a book in to our room and read it to herself while we nap so if there's no way she will sleep longer, if she could just sit in her bed and read it would be fantastic. I really think her main aim in a morning is to just get us up and be with us!

annandale Mon 17-Jul-17 07:53:12

And she can get up and be with you - later grin

Don't take the meltdown at the clock as a logical decision 'I don't like the clock so I am going to be upset'. She is 3, she doesn't have the words or the arguments for any of this (hello 5). She's just holding your attention the way three year olds do, plus she must be knackered!

ladystarkers Mon 17-Jul-17 07:56:35

Defintley give her an ipad. Also try cutting out the nap,earlier bedtime.

mammabear4 Mon 17-Jul-17 08:01:09

annandale thank you smile oh I completely agree. She can't voice her frustrations and sometimes just letting it out in a meltdown is the only way, then just move onwards and upwards. And everyone else thank you it's so reassuring to hear others in the same boat. Mumsnet is so fantastic for support. I think it's finding a solution that fits in with what works for us, and I'm afraid we've been mistaking our open and gentle approach with actually just giving in a bit.

Some great advice thanks ladies I will check in again and let you know what's worked!

RedSandYellowSand Mon 17-Jul-17 08:24:22

Cut the nap- or try it every other day as a nap, and the alternative day an hour of quiet reading or tv.

If you can predict about the time she will wake, set the clock for shortly after that for a few days. So say 5am. Send her back to her room at 4.30, and wait til the Sun comes up. Then make the Sun 5.15. Few days later 5.30. Basically slowly extend the time she is expected to be in her room quietly.

What time are you prepared to start you day at? We went for 6. DS1 had often already been awake for an hour by that point. And no amount of rapid return worked with Him. One of us dozed in his room from wake up til 6. He's no better now, 4.45 wakes are normal. But is big enough to read in bed, and then get his own breakfast at the weekends!

StubbleTurnips Mon 17-Jul-17 08:50:14

As is the sleep board not AIBU hmm - let's play within the spirit of the site and show some support a mum with a new baby and adjusting to life wanting sleep, rather than snarking.

OP this is tough (we're in this situation too) rapid return is working for us and we're very gentle with DD. We do let her have the kindle at weekends though - anything to get more sleep.

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