Monday, November 1, 2010

Telling Time Is Overrated

My almost 5-year-old is officially a non-napper.  Out of the past 30 days, I think she's fallen asleep once, and that was with the heavy incentive of going to an evening event if she'd taken a nap. 

The lack of naps is okay -- I expect it and even (sort of) welcome it; think of the options open to us in the middle of the day, now!  (As long as Lauren skips her nap as well...)

What I don't welcome, however, are Mia's grumpy, evening meltdowns over such earth-shattering things as the lack of any fresh, cold water from our refrigerator for her bedtime nightcap.  Baby, I KNOW you want fresh, cold water, but we JUST refilled the pitcher and that means the water isn't cold yet.  It takes time.  We DO have THIS water, though, and you can either drink it gratefully or scream in your bed about the injustice of 60-degree tap water.  

Guess which option she chose?  Screaming injustice.  Over the temperature of water in her sippy cup.  And that's just one example of the irrationality that's come with a month of no naps. 

I've tried to compensate with earlier bedtimes, but the fact remains that she's tired.  Grumpily tired.  The other side of this problem is that she wakes up in the morning -- every morning, whether she's still tired or not -- at 7AM.  On. The. Dot.  She's learned how to tell time (basically) and when she starts getting to that light-sleep of early morning, she peeks at the clock until it hits 7.  At which point she hops out of bed -- probably still over-tired -- and begins her day. 

I know she needs more sleep.  She knows that 7AM equals wake-time.  WE ALL KNOW she's been grumpy.

What's a mama to do?

Trickery, that's what.  Besides putting her to bed earlier on a fairly regular basis, I'm resorting to tricks. 

She knows how to read her clock?  Well then, I'll set that clock back half an hour so she'll be staying in bed until 7:30.  That'll buy her an extra half-hour and maybe maybe help her catch up on some lost sleep.

Oh yes I will.  In fact, I already have.

Last week, I punched buttons on her clock until it was half an hour behind the rest of the clocks in our house.  (They're all set to varying degrees of inaccuracy, anyway.  The only clock that's absolutely right is a big wall clock in our kitchen.  The ONE clock on which she can't always tell the time because it's not digital.  She can see the hour, but the minute hand is still a mystery.  God Bless mysteries.)  I crossed my fingers that my theory would pan out in the morning -- we were desperate for Mia's grumps to disappear.

At 7AM the next morning, I held my breath as I heard her rustling around in bed.  I tiptoed past her bedroom and whispered goodbye to Justin as he left for work.  I shushed Lauren as she woke and ate her breakfast. There was always the possibility that Mia's internal clocks told her when to wake up regardless of what her digital clock said, and I didn't want to disturb the last few, precious minutes of sleep she could squeeze from her night.

But then -- at 0730 and 14 seconds -- she came out of her room.  Her clock had just switched from 6:59 to 7, and she was ready for the day.  I waited for her to realize that daddy was already gone to work -- she never did.  I waited for her to realize that the wrong cartoon was on tv -- she never did. 

The only thing she saw to comment upon was this: Why is Lauren awake before me, mama?  (Mia is almost always awake before Lauren.)

Oh, you know...I paused...I guess she just woke up a little earlier.  (QUICK!  Change the subject!)  What do you want for breakfast?

And so it goes.  Mia now wakes up at 7:30.

Only, she thinks it's 7.

I'm becoming more and more confused as the days pile up, but at least Mia's netting another half-hour of night time sleep, y'know?



Oh fine.  Yes, effectively, I'm deceiving my child. 

I'll make up for it by only moving her clock back 30 minutes at daylight savings time, closing the gap.  But let me enjoy this nap-replacement for a few more days, okay?

What can I say -- I'm Sarah.  I'm sneaky.  And this is how I keep life Heavenly.


  1. Haha, you're hilarious! And a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do, right?

    P.S. Someone please tell me why I haven't tried the digital clock method yet? ...Because our older boys wake at 6:30 (sometimes 6!) and it doesn't matter if we kept them up until 5:30. For reals.

  2. Brilliant! Hope it keeps working...for the benefit of the sweet girl, of course!

  3. Oh, the end of naps is a painful time. I think setting it back is brilliant. I would have just removed the clock all together! But that might have backfired.

    Sleep is a tricky thing when there are transitions to be made. Two naps to one, to none... And don't even get me started on daylight savings time. Parental torture.

  4. I don't even know if I would have thought of that. My 5 yo son has tried to give up naps, but his behavior shows a need for it so I still make him sleep most days. I've been blessed with good sleepers though, even my 7,8, and 9 yo kids sleep on the weekends sometimes!

  5. The clock thing? So clever. I should definitely try it!

    Also, my kids BEG for ice water in their sippy cups before bedtime. Maybe the ice cubes can be something new and exciting for her when the water isn't cold enough yet?

  6. A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do!

    And PS...the time thing gets worse as they get older!

  7. I love your sneaky-err-cleverness.
    P.S. I wish I could just hop out of bed at 7 every morning and start my day even if I'm overly tired!

  8. I've been trying to figure out what to say to this post: you're brilliant, but I just can't get over the fact that Mia has a clock! Katherine wants one desperately, and we tried it for awhile, but she kept setting the alarm for random times in the night and, after the fourth time I had to rush into her room to turn it off at four in the morning, I finally took it away for good. How did you teach Mia how to *behave* herself with a clock in the first place?

    But then, of course, you're brilliant! :)

  9. Lenae - Get a digital clock NOW! It might take some practice, but I think it'll work!

    Kate - Ugh. Daylight savings time. Hate it. But fall is somewhat better than spring, for me.

    Katie - I know! What is it about being an adult that makes me want to snuggle for a few extra hours every morning? Slash that -- I don't think it has much to do with adulthood -- I've been this way all my life :)

    Emily - The clock has been in her bedroom since she was a newborn, on a high shelf. I used it to keep track of nursing times and such. Now that she's older, she still can't reach it, but she's never tried; it's been a constant feature of her room, so maybe it's nothing special? But you could try a plain, time-only digital clock. One that can't be set for alarms? They're pretty cheap, if I remember right. I hate to think of you being startled awake by an alarm in the middle of the night!

  10. My oldest is 6 and still has only a rudimentary concept of how the clock works and I have no intention of changing that. If I tell her "It's bedtime now!" she just believes me. She can't look at the clock and see that it's half an hour early. If she wakes up and I tell her, "Oh, it's still the middle of the night. You have to go back to bed," she believes me, because she has no way to argue the point. She'll figure it out soon enough and then my days of shameless manipulation will be over.

  11. I had to take the clock away, all together. We tried changing the time and it only worked for a few days.

    My 3yo has stopped napping. Oh I could force it on the days she is tired, but if I do she stays up (and keeps her brother up) until 8, 9, 10pm. But she was waking up (and subsequently waking her brother up) early, anytime between 6 and 7 and waiting for the clock to turn 7. Since she had NO concept of time, after a few minutes she would yell "It's not turning 7 yet!"

    Now I wake (drag) them out of bed at 7 so we aren't late to school and everyone is much happier.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?