Getting them up in the morning

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Waking 17-month-old for daycare

Sept 2004

Our 17 month old daughter will be starting at a new daycare soon. Until now we had a nanny caring for her so we didn't have to get her ready before we left for work. Now, we'll have to have her up and dressed about an hour before she normally wakes up. Is there any way I can help to gently adjust her sleep schedule to make this change less traumatic? Can she do with an hour less sleep per night? She goes to bed about 8pm, wakes about 8am. Putting her to bed at 7pm seems awfully early. If I continue to let her sleep until 8am and go to work later, I won't be home from work until after our regular dinner time. I know every child's sleep needs are different, but I'd be interested to hear what other parents are doing and/or if anyone has dealt with a similar concern.

My 17-month old is asleep by 6:30 or 7 p.m. and sleeps until 7 a.m. I know how important sleep is to her mood--if she has a shorter night, she naps poorly and is cranky! I'd be hesitant to shorten your daughter's night sleep. 7 p.m. really isn't so early--it would let her get enough sleep, plus it's nice to have some time in the evening just for the adults! early to bed...

Toddler can't get up in the morning and I need to work

Nov 2000

I have recently started working full-time--subbing for a friend at a job while she's on maternity leave. I may stay on at this place at least part-time even after she comes back, as I need the money. My problem is my morning routine with my 28-month-old son. He is a late sleeper--in bed by 8:30pm--sometimes a bit earlier--and up usually after 8am, sometimes as late as 9! I know, I'm lucky, but this is not conducive, obviously, to going out to work. I've been mostly working free-lance and teaching, both of which allow me later hours (but, unfortunately, not enough money) and so I've been able to maintain a morning routine that works well for both of us. He is VERY slow to get going--hates to get out of his crib, take off his pajamas, isn't hungry right away, etc. He's in day care 3 days a week and has a sitter 2 days, but the sitter's been coming at 10 and he's never at day care before then either. We usually have fairly leisurely mornings with some cuddle time and a book or two before dressing and getting started with the day, and this seems to have a real impact on the quality of his day . When I took on the job for my friend I told them I couldn't get there before 10, but that's still pushing it--I have to be ready to go to work at 9:30, and I just can't seem to make that happen. I am trying to get my son to bed a bit earlier but there are a couple of problems there: when I am out at work I can't get to day care to pick him up much before six and when he's with the nanny it's still 5:30. I don't want to rush him to dinner, bath and bed, because I won't have spent any play time with him at all, and it's clear to me that spending some time on the floor playing with him every day is essential to his well-being. So, while I can work on maybe a 15-minute push back on his bedtime, I don't think much more than that is realistic. I should add that I'm a single mom and his dad is with him 2 nights a week, so those nights are less problematic in terms of his being with and playing with a parent, but the rest of the time it's him and me, and I hate to try to cut back the overly-limited time we have together to begin with. I can get him up a bit earlier, but obviously it's not good to regularly deprive him of sleep. So it seems like picking up the morning pace is the solution, but how do I do this while still giving him a sense of peaceful, easy mornings rather than harried ones. One thing that would help would be if he'd agree to eat fast food for breakfast like frozen waffles or pre-made pancakes, but, being two, he's into food fixations, and right now will only eat oatmeal for breakast (and lunch and dinner if I'd let him)--sometimes 2 bowls worth, which takes longer to prepare and which ends up everywhere, so that I practically have to bathe him after breakfast! Anyway, I'd appreciate any suggestions for how to gently hurry him along a bit more in the morning, or any other suggestions for how to get an earlier, faster start without infecting him with my harried anxiety.

I know the logistical and family-relations issues involved with getting out the door in the morning all too well. The few things that have helped me are: 1) getting my work clothes ready the night before (i.e., chosen and ironed and checked for missing buttons and stains!); 2) getting my daughter's stuff ready and packed the night before; 3) gently awakening her 15-20 minutes early--yes, she does better if she wakes up on her own, but if that causes a rush out the door, she's miserable...and if getting up early makes her tired, she's more likely to go to bed a little earlier at night; 4) having the kitchen clean and ready for cooking in the AM (versus leaving dinner dishes or piles of newspaper around); 5) getting up a little earlier myself, so I can shower, dress, and have coffee (phew!) before she wakes up, which means I'm only concentrating on her preparations, not my own.

I also try to keep track of my guilt about being a working mom in the first place, which adds to my misery and crankiness and doesn't help her in the least. Susan

My child is similar to yours in terms of bedtime/waking time and is slow in the a.m. too. I totally understand (and agree with) your reasons for not wanting to put him to bed earlier, too. My first thought is whether you could adjust your childcare situation so that a sitter comes in early in the morning and then takes him to daycare at 10. Like with other relationships - it's easier to change yourself than change the other person (in this case, the other person being your child). My other tips are for you to get completely ready yourself before he wakes up (hair, makeup, underclothes), lay out the rest of your outfit, find your car keys, organize your purse or briefcase, everything! then put your bathrobe on and stay in it until 90 sec. before you leave the house, at which point you whip off the robe and don the top layer (your Superwoman outfit). Also, you can make oatmeal the night before and heat it up in the micro, or at least set out the pan, and measure out everything the night before. Keep in mind it is approximately 1000x faster to do anything while a toddler is asleep than doing it while the toddler is awake. Fran
We have a slow riser too, so here are a few thoughts I had that might help you with morning routines. I had the same desire not to put my son (2.5 yr old) to bed any earlier, but have found that just a little earlier helps. It does cut down on your evening play, but gives you more time to play in the morning. After a day or two of being tired from getting up early, I found an earlier bed time was easy to implement. Even 1/2 an hour can make a difference. Second, I simply built in time to read and cuddle for a little while in the a.m. I get up even earlier myself so that I am all ready, then don't wake him til I'm ready and the breakfast food is on the table. I also fix oatmeal a lot, but in the microwave (you can do this even with the non instant kind, it works great) So, it only takes a few minutes. And, I don't put his shirt on til he is done eating. Finally, I have found that breakfast will take as long as I let it. So I have started telling him that we are leaving for school in 5 minutes, and that it is his choice if he wants to eat or go to school hungry. The preschool always gives snacks and a good lunch, so he is not going to starve, and I have found that it really works. Some days he doesn't eat, but it doesn't seem to bother him, especially when compared to how bothered he was by being rushed. Some mornings he's just not hungry. Hope this helps! Ann