Moms of two or more everywhere are in sleep poverty–we’re exhausted. We’re waking every two to four hours for at least the first six months of our new baby’s life, and yet the day has to begin whenever the older child wakes.
Right now, I’m doing my blogging and virtual assistant work after everyone else goes to bed. Once I finally do go to sleep, I’m waking two or three times a night with my baby and usually once with my toddler to go to the bathroom (and then negotiate about whether he can come into our bed or not.)
I have the hardest time getting right up in the morning with my toddler. And I feel terrible for how short I can be with him when I’m groggy and just dying for a little more sleep. So we’ve established some things he can do as soon as he wakes up that allows me to kind of “snooze button” my way to wakefulness.
So here are my tips to you, fellow exhausted mothers, to activate the Human Snooze Button:
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1.) Leave an interesting toy or activity on your child’s bedroom floor after they fall asleep. And then encourage your kiddo to play a bit before he or she comes out to wake you. Or, if he or she does wake you first thing (which my son usually still does), I say, “Did you notice the [zoo animal set] in your bedroom? Go check it out!!” For our toddler right now, we rotate leggos, this really neat no-mess coloring pad, blocks, a train set, puzzles, and his favorite books. Each one can hold his interest for 20-30 minutes which is really all I ask!
2.) If you allow an amount of screen time during the day, let that be a morning activity now. I’m a big fan of the tip from Amanda at Dirt and Boogers to make screen time a part of your routine in order to set expectations and limits and minimize outbursts. So, if I’m going to give my son thirty minutes of either TV or iPad time, that is precisely when he gets it: when Mommy is not on the top of her “stimulating the mind” game just yet.
3.) Keep an easy “breakfast appetizer” within toddler reach. For us, that means having bananas, apples, little boxes of raisins, even a little snack cup of his favorite cereal ready to go if our little guy wakes up hungry and Mommy isn’t exactly ready to open the restaurant yet. And a sippy cup full of water, do not forget the water!
4.) See if a later bedtime will make for a later wake time, not the case for all children but it’s worth a shot! For the first few months of our second baby’s life, our toddler was still in diapers, and putting him to bed later really did cause him to sleep in later. (He slept in until 11am one morning, bless him.) Now that he is potty-trained, he is up as soon as he needs to go! So we’re back to much earlier bedtimes.
5.) Ask Daddy to make the older child a part of his routine. I don’t know about your husband, but the children are not usually a part of my husband’s morning routine as he gets ready for work. But sometimes you just need to have a heart-to-heart and ask for some reinforcement. See if he’ll wake with the older child or tend to any needs before he goes. Mine was happy to do it, he was just so used to his routine, it didn’t occur to him to do it on his own. He’s great at getting our son interested in a toy and playing with him for a bit, giving him that energetic attention I haven’t mustered just yet.
Bonus tip: Just have your coffeemaker ready to go so as soon as you wake from your pathetic night of sleep, so all’s you have to do is press “start.”
Now don’t get me wrong here, I believe in rising with our children, but when you’re in the fog of the newborn sleep patterns, you just need a little grace period first thing in the morning. This lifestyle of exhaustion is temporary, and while it often feels like it will never end, it’s always over before we know it. So, please use these tips wisely and with the best intentions. And you might be surprised, while you think you’re pressing the “human snooze button,” your older child is learning the valuable skills of self-care and independent play!
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I love this book for moms in the new baby transition !
When Baby Becomes Big Sibling by my good friend Paula Rollo