Sleep- it’s the one thing that most parents with young children wish they had more of and isn’t hard to achieve if you put in just a little extra effort. Stick around. I’ll tell you what’s working to wake up well-rested as a mom of 4 kids seven years old and younger.
My kids have always risen with the roosters, literally. Here in rural Costa Rica the neighbors’ roosters crow at the crack of dawn. We’re talking around 5 a.m. year-round, folks! (We’re near the equator.) It’s bad news when neither blackout curtains nor sleep training alarm clocks nor the most dreaded threats keep those little feet from padding around the house, pulling at your covers, or worse yet- entering your room in a tizzy to proclaim the wrong done to them by siblings in a voice that’s outrageously
annoying loud for any hour before 7 a.m. I’ve been there. It’s hard, I know.
What’s working for us these days
I’ll start with a disclaimer. My method is not what you might expect, and no, it doesn’t work 100% of the time, especially if sibling squabbles arise in the wee hours of morning light. However, for the most part, my husband and I and our 2 month-old who shares a room with us have been able to sleep significantly longer over the past month since Husband and I implemented this idea. I won’t claim it as my own, as I first saw it done by a homeschooler here. All I know is that it is transforming my mornings into the kind I’ve been hoping for for 7 years. Yes, it has taken that long. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you.
Give them work.
No, I’m not talking about setting out rubber gloves and organic cleaners, expecting your little Cinderella to get some chores done. I’m talking about learning activities, or even homework that they can sit down and quietly work on while you snooze. This will look different depending on your child’s age and family’s lifestyle or take on learning.
How did I come up with this?
I stumbled upon implementing kids morning work after a loooong teacher’s strike here in Costa Rica. In fact, it’s still going strong as I type this post, more than 5 week later. My kids were bored, asking when they’d head back to class every single day with enough gusto and repetition to make my head spin. They wanted to learn, to work on school pages, so I gave it to them.
What this looks like in our house
Every day is different. My seven year-old loves to write stories and do math problems. Some days I’ll leave out a small composition notebook and she will copy phrases, add or subtract, practice her handwriting with Bible verses or letters of the alphabet. Other days she’ll string beads and make necklaces, do a 100-piece puzzle, or color pages from a coloring book.
My five year-old loves puzzles and keeps busy with those for an uncanny-good amount of time. He also works on his letters in a lined notebook or dry-erase learning book. This book is his fave.
Our three year-old enjoys hands-on activities. Most mornings she’ll engage in Play-doh forming, bead work, shape matching activities, or even a simple set of alphabet magnets or princess magnets on a baking sheet.
What it isn’t
Technology or messy art projects. #mamacantdeal
Where we set up morning work
The kitchen table. Because our house is small and our children share a bedroom, I set out their morning learning activities at the kitchen table. Each child has their unofficial “assigned seat” and knows which project is their own based on where I’ve placed it. Most activities do rotate between children throughout the course of a week.
Of course, if your children have their own rooms, it would probably be wise to set up each child’s morning learning work in his or her own bedroom. The fewer children in close proximity to one another, the quieter your mornings will be.
Prep the night before
Right before bedtime I take a minute or two to grab an activity for each child to keep them busy the next morning. I keep handy a small bin full of educational activities and crafty items to pull out on the fly. My kids don’t get bored doing the same dry-erase activities a few times a week or having the same beads and string regularly. I think they’re just glad to get out of bed and greet the morning. It’s a beautiful compromise!
I hope that these ideas earn you some well-deserved zzz’s this week. Tell me, how do you keep your children from waking early and how do you keep them quiet and safe in the morning while you’re getting ready, having quiet time, or, like me, just craving a few more precious minutes of sleep?
Until next time,