It’s 5:00 am on Saturday morning. My eyes snap open as I sense someone is staring at me. It’s my two preschoolers, poking me, whispering in the softest voice, “is it time to get up mommy?” I want to scream at them, “go back to sleep!” but instead I roll out of bed, blurry-eyed and put on a morning cartoon to appease them until I’m awake. For the longest time, I was desperate to figure out how to keep early risers in bed longer. It took some trial and error, but we finally figured out how to keep our kids in bed, at least until 6:30, and sometimes even 7 am! We don’t mind these times because we are fairly early risers ourselves. However, if you prefer sleeping in even later, you should be able to use these 6 tips to keep your kids in bed longer.
1. Make their Room Sleep-Friendly
Probably the first thing you should do is make sure your child’s room is sleep-friendly. Install some black-out or room-darkening curtains, make sure the room is the right temperature, and ensure they have everything they need to fall and stay asleep. My kids are 100% potty trained, but if you’re still dealing with night-time accidents, I highly suggest buying the heavy-duty night-time diapers. I found the Huggies nighttime diapers worked awesome (they didn’t pay me to say this, I just really found them effective!). Once I put my kids in these, they slept through much better.
2. Get a Clock that Turns Colors
The absolute best thing we did to keep our kids in bed in the morning was buying a clock that changes colors. The clock turns green when it’s time for them to get out of bed. This simple little invention worked great for us. The first few nights after we got the clock, the kids would come out of their room and say things like “the clock isn’t green yet, when will the clock turn green?” We just told them to go back to their room until the clock turned green. After a few mornings of them asking when, they realized they just had to wait. Now, they know they aren’t allowed to come out of their room until the clock turns green.
When we moved to Boston, we actually shifted the time back a bit so now they sleep in a bit later. Ironically, they haven’t seemed to notice that we shifted the time, and the clock keeps them in their beds until it turns green.
3. Let Them Stay Up Later
If your kids keep waking up very early, maybe they are well-rested. Perhaps you need to keep them up a bit later so they will sleep later. We recently realized we needed to shift our kids’ bedtime to later because they were staying up in their room talking for nearly an hour. On the nights when we keep them up until 7:30, they usually fall right asleep, so we figured that is their appropriate bedtime now. Most things I’ve read say that preschoolers should get 10-12 hours of sleep a night. If they are waking up too early or not falling asleep right away (within 15 minutes or so), then you should probably adjust their bedtime.
4. Skip Naps
Even after shifting their bedtime, if your child still gets up too early (and seems well-rested) then it might be time to drop the nap. I know it’s hard! I really didn’t want to get rid of naps because I love the free time. Now that my son is almost 5, I realize he doesn’t always need a nap. Sometimes we’ll just do ‘quite time’ in their room so I still get a little break, but they don’t need a full nap that often anymore.
5. Leave Toys and Books in Their Room
If your child refuses to sleep in, despite your best attempts, then you might want to leave some books and toys in their room so they can play when they wake up. Once we instituted the light-up clock in our kids’ room, we didn’t need anything else. However, I would be happy to have them read books when they wake up if that will keep them in their rooms longer.
6. Offer Incentives (Like a Sticker Chart)
If your child likes incentives, maybe you could start a sticker chart or find other incentives to keep your early riser in bed. I tried a sticker chart with my son when he was potty training and it didn’t really work for us. However, my daughter loves stickers. I have a feeling a sticker chart would totally work for her to keep her in bed if we find the clock stops working at some point.
Are you struggling with keeping your early riser in bed? If so, I really hope you try out some of these tips and tell me how it’s going. I’d love to hear from you!