5 Sneaky Ways to Get Your Kids to Sleep In—So You Can, Too
Over the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call? Us, too. These expert-recommended tricks will help you train your kids to snooze longer (or at least stay in their own beds), so you can get more rest.
Most mornings, including weekends, my 3-year-old climbs into our bed around 5:30—a full hour earlier than we actually need to wake up. It wouldn’t be so bad if she could be still and just cuddle, but she wiggles and sings and puts her stuffed monkey on my face. Needless to say, I’ve been feverishly researching ways to get her to sleep longer, or at least let me rest until my alarm goes off. I asked parenting expert Betsy Brown Braun, author of You’re Not the Boss of Me,for her advice on how to get everyone to sleep later. If you’re craving a snoozy Sunday morning, try these stay-in-bed strategies.
Make a big deal out of giving your child a “big kid” present, and gift her with a fancy clock, like this the adorable OK to Wake! Alarm (Amazon.com, $27), which glows green when it’s okay to get out of bed. This sleek, modern design from Hatch Baby is a little pricier (Amazon.com, $60), but it has a range of cool features (it also acts as white-noise machine for fussy sleepers) and can be controlled from your smartphone.
If your kid opens his eyes the minute the sun peeps over the horizon, you may be able to buy a few extra minutes in the morning by making sure his bedroom stays dark as long as possible. Try curtains in kid-friendly colors (Miuco makes them in pink, sage, and sky-blue; Amazon.com, $35), that block out any hint of daylight, but can then be thrown open to let the sunshine in once everyone is awake.
It sounds so simple, but shutting your door at night may keep your child out. "You have to tell him, ‘If my door is closed, that means it’s not time to get up,” says Brown Braun. Of course, this needs to be backed up by action: “If your child comes in before wake-up time, you have to take him back to bed, every time."
Some moms and dads have success putting a basket with a few books or art supplies and a snack like a bowl of dry Cheerios next to their kids’ beds, says Brown Braun. It help the early risers entertain themselves in the morning, and can become a special treat they look forward to. If the basket is too distracting at bedtime, you can pop it in their rooms after they’ve drifted off.
Brown Braun suggests giving prizes if your child needs a little extra motivation to play by your new rules. For example, every time your child’s able stay in bed (or in her own room) until wake time, she gets a sticker. “When she gets five, she can pick something from a rewards jar filled with fun experiences that don’t involve money or food, like ‘bubble bath,’ ‘eating dinner under the table,’ or ‘taking a flashlight walk,’” she adds.