How to stop kids getting up sooo early.

I was totally scarred for life (twice) by the 'Sleepless Nights' phase that my boys and every newborn goes through. I literally had NO idea how bad it is and just how much I need sleep to function....maybe comparing it to late night clubbing sessions was my mistake especially as there is no sleeping all day to compensate with T4 and a bacon sandwich for company any more. So my boys are pretty good sleepers thanks to the routine I have had since they were little which you can see in my last blog here.

How to get your child to sleep.

Now we are on to a totally different sleep problem especially at this time of year, the kids getting up waaaay too early. I read something once that said anywhere between 5.30-7am is an acceptable time for a child to get up. I think 5.30am is a bit steep I don't even like to get up at that time for a holiday plus everyone is grouchy all day and then when my 4yr old who doesn't have a nap any more is falling asleep on the sofa or in the car at lunchtime I know its too early for us. I saw a good chart on Pinterest here on my board. Ashlie's Good to Know Pinterest
According to that Archie (age 4) needs 11.5hrs sleep a night and Oscar (age 2) needs about that as well. Bedtime is 7-7.30pm so they both shouldn't be getting up until at least 6.30am. Now Oscar is managing this no problem IF he's not woken up by Archie who isn't managing this at all and he is so ratty for it.

Feel the same way about my kids at 5am

I'm not sure at which point you go from leaping out of bed as soon as you wake up thinking "Yesss its the morning time" to waking up and everything in your body begging you to roll back over for just "5 more minutes"?...Anyway I'm on the latter side and Archie is not. Recently as soon as his eyes open it could be 4am that is it he is up. His newest trick is to stay quiet for 30 minutes and creep downstairs while we are all asleep, he is tall and strong enough to open any door, baby gate and lock which is a nightmare and then help him self to the goodie cupboard, all while we are unconscious. When he has finished gorging on biscuits and is bored he will come in and get us again still only 5.30am. This has been going on for a while and I have been racking my brains on what to do.

Kids who wake up early fall into two category's

1. Still in a cot i.e trapped.
If your child is still in a cot: Your best bet is by far is a black out blind, even if you have to tape it for pitch blackness. Also after they are asleep placing a few toys or books at the bottom of the cot might buy you an hour's more peace (they after all will be getting a nap later on unlike you) or even better they might play and doze back off Result!

2. Kids who can get out of bed and physically shake you....harder to ignore. A lot more tricky.

Here were some of the things that didn't work for us but might for you.

Wake up clock:
We have "Gro" clock which again in theory is great. It changes colour to yellow when it is time to get up but Archie was playing with it after lights out because its more like a toy or turning it off at the switch so it wasn't working and resetting its self, turning yellow at 2am....

Black out blind:
Archie has a lined Roman blind in his room already but it does let a bit of light through the sides. We have a blackout sheet which was great when he was little in a cot and in the cooler months but it needs to be taped around the side for total darkness so then its stuck in place and his room is the hottest in the house even with his new fan. We need the window open at the minute, letting in as much air as possible plus it doesn't really work anyway as he still jumps out of bed, pulls it aside...ripping off some of the paint to check if its light yet!?

Quite dark already and was ripping the paint off.

Lamp set a timer: 
This was by far my favourite, any old lamp set to a £2 timer, to come on at 7am, then knowing what time it is to get up. This would be more effective in the winter but I tried it first in our room and its quite light by 7am so didn't notice it that much when it came on. It was a total no go anyway though when I realised Archie has a lamp on all night in his room. Some kids have their bedroom door open but Archie prefers his shut with a lamp on especially if he needs the loo in the night. So he wouldn't notice another light coming on would he?!

He is 4yrs old so cant tell the time....he still asks me at 2pm "Is it still the day?"...in other words it not bed time yet?

Wake them up!:
When we were living in Texas Oscar broke his arm and while there I mentioned to a Paediatrician the kids were getting up really early with jet lag. He recommended waking the child or making them stir when you go to bed as it breaks their sleep cycle and they wake later. I would not recommend this if your munchkin wouldn't go straight back off again but this works great on Oscar but not on Archie, he does go back to sleep no trouble but still gets up earrrly. 

*Please note at this point I have completely stopped using the "Light" as a guide for night time its now when I say so. Its less confusing and causes less agro about bedtime.

So what did work?

At last I came across an idea on somewhere in the bowels of the internet which involved a clock but with a little make over. I want Archie to not get out of bed until 7am he cant tell the time but he does know what a 7 is.

You will need:
A digital clock, we had one stuffed in the loft.
A piece of paper and a pen
A chunk of blue tack.
Reward chart, optional

Tah Dah! It is this simple. Archie now knows that 
he cant get up until 7 matches the 7. 

To sweeten the deal we got him a reward chart if he does it every night with a treat of his choice at then end of the week. His choice this week was 'Lego Movie on DVD' and a home cinema night....little did he know I would have given him pretty much anything for some decent sleep. 

I got this one at Wilkinsons for £1.50 and I love that its magnetic and has 5 weeks 
so he can see the whole achievement!

We have had a few glitch's which are ironed out now.

The first night I stupidly didn't realise that there wouldn't be a 0 before the 7 so Archie came in at 06.02am saying "Something was wrong with the clock".... I got a pair of scissors and sorted it out.

The second night I was woken up at 5.30am by Archie clattering his Lego's, when I went into his room he said "I'm just waiting for the 7" ....so I explained it's 'Do Not get out of bed until 7am'. NO TOYs until after 7am.

The third night I was woken up at 5.45am by Archie reading...I use this term loosely as he was just loudly saying the words he knows. I felt bad saying he couldn't even read but as he cant read and the idea is that he try's to go back to sleep. So we decided that it is no toys or books before 7am; obviously very boring and more likely to go back to sleep. 

It works we are 3 weeks in and it really works. He might still be waking up at 4am and staring at the ceiling until 7am for all we know but the rest of the house is not getting woken up to early and we are all much less grumpier. Cant recommend it enough!

Ash xox

I have just heard a brill one from another mum Kim Ironside which I had to add. She has given her son, who is a totally cutie, a 'Dragon Egg' (can get a rubber egg for 99p on ebay) and said "This is a dragons egg, it ONLY grows when you're asleep and will hatch in 100 yrs....little boys never sleep well enough so that's why we have no dragons. He's had 'Bob the dragon' by his bed for months!" 

Definitely worth a try but I think a 'Gruffalo Egg' might work better in our house! 

Any other ideas please shout and I will add them.


  1. You're a genius! I think Joss is too young for the alarm clock but the timer lamp or groclock might work, loved the T4 reference, I used to love partying all Saturday then watching Hollyoaks Omnibus all Sunday!

    1. Why thank you! I cant take all the credit but I have tried A LOT of things ha ha. Sleep is my favourite hobby! I appreciate any shares as spread the joys to other sleep deprived parents out there x