When I tell people that at my early riser 3-year-old daughter was trained to let us sleep in until 7 am–sometimes 8 am–they are always shocked. It wasn’t easy. It took sweat, stick drawings and a lot of waking up before dawn but we did it! Ella is a lot like me was when I was little…she loves to get up before 6 am and she doesn’t like breakfast early in the morning. To those who know the #struggleisreal and want to learn how we got our toddler (who normally loved to cry, scream and invade our bedroom when she woke up at 5 am 😫) to watch her kindle or play quietly in her room instead until we got her, please read on:
What didn’t work (please feel free to raise an eyebrow, we know this sounds crazy):
– Leaving a sign outside her room with a picture of a TV and remote with an arrow pointing downstairs to motivate her to turn on the TV by herself and watch PBS, pre-set, of course. This was not my idea (my husband likes to draw), and although Ella seemed to be a natural at understanding cave drawings, this didn’t encourage her to go downstairs.
– Using a toddler alarm that was set to 7 AM to visually show her when it was time to get up. Ella didn’t care about the glowing green signal!
– Buying a kindle as an incentive: Ella only had permission to play with her kindle in the morning—she was not allowed to use it during the day or in the evening (we broke that rule on long car rides).
– No yelling rule: We praised Ella and gave her a “treat” every time she woke up and didn’t scream or cry (unless there was an emergency, which there never was). Maybe it was her favorite breakfast dish or she got to watch her favorite TV show before bedtime.
– Mom and dad will come for you: She learned that mommy and daddy would come get her when it was time to get up. Now that Ella is 4 and she goes to preschool daily, she actually wakes ME up when it is 7 am. Hilarious!
These days, my husband wakes up at 6 am and he greets her every morning if she is already up and then at 7 am her-starved mother gets up and cooks breakfast for her and Luke. Like clockwork, Luke always wakes up at 7 am, sometimes 7:30. It’s pretty awesome!!!