3 Tips to Get Kids to Stop Waking the Whole Family
When I was pregnant with our second baby, I worried a crying newborn would wake our older child in the night. But motherhood has a funny way of surprising you at every turn. The baby never ended up waking the toddler. The problem is, our toddler wakes the baby.
Loud outbursts at inappropriate times are essential job functions of a typical three-year-old, and our Chloe is no exception. Most days, she startles her little sister awake, yelling “IT’S DAY! CAN I COME OUT OF MY ROOM?” well before sunrise. She has also mastered the art of cutting the baby’s nap short whenever she tires of being in her room during rest time, shouting to come out.
The baby is 15 months old now. For a year, I endured the madness. But when we hit the year mark, two things happened: Ellie was finally sleeping through the night and my mental fog lifted. Instead of resigning myself to the status quo, I came up with some sleep solutions. Here’s what’s working for us so far:
1) The Quiet Chart
I promised Chloe if she was quiet five mornings in a row, she would be rewarded with a lollipop. I made a chart to track her progress using just a scrap piece of paper, a marker, and Hello Kitty stickers. On it, we keep track of her success by placing a sticker on the days she is sufficiently quiet and an “x” on the days she is not. Since she can’t read yet, I drew a picture of a girl with her pointer finger to her lips (the universal sign for “shhhh”) and a balloon. We hung the chart in her room together, and every night at bedtime, we talk about how important it is to remember to be quiet in the morning. With the reward system in place, Ellie has been known to sleep past 7:00 am, versus being awoken by her sister’s shouting between 5:45 and 6:30.
2) The Tot Clock
It’s an alarm clock designed for young children. The face can toggle between analog and digital. Even if you can’t tell time or understand the numbers on the digital reading, when you press a button, the clock reads the time out loud. The ability to ask the clock what time it is anytime she wants, instead of relying on me to tell her what time it is, gives Chloe more control over her nap time. When she asks me if her rest is over yet, I remind her that rest time is over when the alarm goes off. This makes the clock the bad guy, not me, thereby minimizing the frequency of screaming and crying that used to occur during almost every “quiet rest.”
3) Relocate Nap/Rest
Our house is a small ranch with a finished basement. The girls’ rooms are next to each other on the main level. One afternoon, in desperation, I carried my screaming toddler to the guest room in the basement so she could at least cry without waking her sister. Since then, Chloe has been taking her afternoon rest in the guest room, where she is allowed to bring in whatever books she wants. I have caught her jumping on the queen-size bed a few times, but I can’t say I blame her. The jumping doesn’t wake the baby, and that’s what matters.
Everything I know about parenting I learned by trial and error. It only took me a year’s worth of trial and error to realize by the time I was stage whispering “SHHHHH!!!!” it was far too late.
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This post was written by Pam Moore exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.