I have decided that sleep is definitely over-rated. It must be because I let myself get very little of it these days. My sweet little man is doing his early wake up calls (YET AGAIN). I think I'm figuring out that he cycles through these sleep patterns, which means my least favorite part of his "cycle" is coming up really soon. The balance with this kid is far too delicate. Does anyone else feel that way about their toddlers?
We feel like we have tried all the recommended approaches to helping toddlers stay in bed a little longer. Our wild monster just wants to be different. The kid is on his own schedule and he is not about to have us tell him that things need to change. He's too clever for that. Yes, we're in HUGE trouble.
I even purchased one of those "Ok to Wake" alarm clocks. The reviews were promising, and everyone claimed it was the answer to keeping their little ones sleeping in later in the morning. The idea is that the alarm clock illuminates and you teach your toddler that if the light is off, he stays in bed (or in his room) until the light turns on. Many kids apparently find this exciting. It didn't work at all when I first got it, and then he started sleeping well, so I put it aside. Since he started waking up early again, I thought it might be worth a second go. Big R helped me build up the excitement with little r. We explained that he had an alarm clock just like mommy and daddy, and when the light turns on it was time to get up, BUT when it wasn't on, it meant little r needed to stay in bed and use his whisper voice.
It's true - he was REALLY excited. This is where he got clever. There's a button that turns the glow "on." I think it's supposed to function like a night light, not sure. I'm the dummy that decided to show him what the "light" looks like. He paid close attention, despite me trying to be sly (it never works). We tucked him into bed and ten minutes later he came out of his room with the biggest smile! "Mommy, come look! My light is on, it's time to get up!" I kid you not. If that's not funny enough, he did it again the next morning. He woke up almost an hour before his alarm would have gone off and turned it on. "It's time to get up, Mommy, see?" Yep, that's my kid. Gotta love him. I have to smile every time I think about this. We need a different idea.
If you are thinking this idea is cruel, maybe you are right, but believe it or not, it's less for me and more for little r. I would be less adverse to him getting up so early if he woke up happy. The other morning he woke us up at 6:00 a.m. singing. That was cute and the whole thing was a-ok by me. But he rarely does that. He's usually cranky, and I can see that less than 30 minutes after he wakes up, he's exhausted. Not a good thing.
Here's my current conundrum, if you even want to refer to it as that. Little r clearly needs to get to bed earlier. His body wants to be awake early, and that's just how it's going to be, but I want him rested. The challenge comes in with his nap. We don't get home from Kindergarten until after 1:00 p.m., or sometimes later. We eat lunch, and my goal is to have him down for his nap by 2:00 p.m. at the latest. Then he has been sleeping for 2.5+ hours. The bottom line is, he's just not tired to go to bed. So, when we get him to bed early, he plays in his room for hours. He's in his room and he's staying there (for the most part), but he's not getting sleep.
Little r went from sleeping well through the night and waking at a reasonable hour (between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.) and having nap strikes, to taking 2.5-3 hour naps in the afternoon and waking up eeeeaaarrrrlllyyy. I'm starting to see a correlation here. I don't think I'm ready to give up naps...just not yet...
So, as much as it pains me to do it, I'm waking him up no later than 4:00 p.m. from his nap. I'm hoping this will start to help us get him to bed earlier, so that he gets more sleep at night. To help me cope more with the early hours, I'm training myself to be a morning person. My alarm is set for 5:15 a.m., and I get out of bed, have a cup of coffee, and hope to do some interneting before the little man rises for the day. It's helping that it's summer and the sun rises at 5:30 a.m. Somehow it feels less painful to climb out of bed when the sun is greeting you.
I've also made arrangements to bring little r to kindergarten earlier. It dawned on me this might actually help a bit. The kid is so excited to go to school in the morning that it's madness trying to contain him for 2-3 hours before we start our walk to school. Shortening this a tad really helps. What can he say, he is just really ready to start his day, can you blame him?
We'll see how this new schedule works. I'm sure little r will keep us guessing. He loves surprises and keeping my life interesting. I'm determined to find harmony and a good balance. Per usual, I'm overthinking everything because that's what I do best. Hopefully we'll find an answer. Or maybe we won't because there isn't one, and I'll just hang in there until the cycle shifts to later awakenings. More coffee please :)