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Starting the Day

Calfgrit6 has always been an early riser. When he was a toddler he’d wake up at 5 a.m., and I’d put him in his stroller for a walk around the block before the sun came up. In the past couple of years, he’d wake up pretty regularly at 6 a.m.

We tried changing his bed time to later, but that made him wake up earlier. His normal bed time has been 7:30, and he’d wake up at 6:00. If we put him to bed at 8:00, he’d wake up at 5:30. Put him to bed at 9:00 and he wakes up at 4:30. Yes, that’s how it worked. The later he went to sleep, the earlier he’d wake up. It makes no logical sense, but that’s how it happened. Sadly, putting him down earlier than 7:30 also made him wake up earlier. We’ve talked with other parents and with his doctor, and we’ve learned this is not uncommon.

So we came to accept and work with his 6:00 a.m. waking time. In the past months, he’s matured enough that he can play in his room quietly in the morning. He’d wake up, put on his clothes, and come to our room to let us know he was awake. We’d tell him he could just play quietly in his room, and he cheerily do so. We’d get another half-hour of rest before he needed breakfast. (Calfgrit9 can easily sleep til 7:00, and later.)

This morning, Calfgrit6 woke up at 5:30, but he was not willing to play quietly in his room; he said he was hungry. We explained to him that we (Mom and Dad) don’t start our day before 6:00, and it was not time for breakfast, yet.

We’ve been through all this before — it’s not “morning” until 6:00, and we don’t fix breakfast before then. We had to set this rule a long time ago to stop him from thinking he could start our day as soon as he first opened his eyes. In the past, he has actually used the “I’m hungry; I need breakfast” call to make us start our day at 4:00 a.m. Once he learned that he couldn’t get us up and started before 6:00, (after we fell for the “I’m hungry” at 4 and 5 a.m. a couple times), he let himself go back to sleep if he woke up real early.

Setting the acceptable get-up time has taken a long while. We had to go through several frustrating early morning arguments, but that’s just how life goes with children. Set the acceptable rules, and then stick to them while the child tests, tests, and tests them to see that you really mean it. But once the child understands the rule is firm, he falls in line.

So, like I said, Calfgrit6 has been doing very well with the 6:00 day start time, for several months. He doesn’t bother getting up before 6:00, and even then he plays quietly in his room till 6:30 to 7:00 each morning. Our mornings have been relatively pleasant for a good while.

But then, this morning. He started saying he was hungry before 6:00. He started fake crying, in a loud, totally melodramatic way. His intention was to not let us ignore him until “morning.” He also knows that he can play us by threatening to wake up Calfgrit9 early — he doesn’t make a direct threat, but he knows we want CG9 to get enough sleep before school.

We have to stick to our rule, though, or else we’ll have to go through this routine every morning instead of just every once in a while when he wants to test our resolve.


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