In Need of a Parenting Hack

I don’t know if you, folks, have noticed but I no longer post genius posts – or any posts – in the morning. And here is why.

We have transitioned Klara from her crib into a big-girl bed because she finally figured out that a crib can be climbed out of and it became unsafe. Our pediatrician, a very experienced lady, told me a year ago, “Do yourselves a favor and keep her in the crib for as long as you possibly can do so safely.” And I now know what she meant.

Klara wakes up at night, several times a night, and comes to visit us. I’m turning into a total neurotic because it’s completely unpredictable. Today it was at 1:15 and 5:30. The night before it was at 2:30 and 4. And so on. It’s completely different from when she was an infant and I got up at night to feed her because her feeding times were like clockwork. She never cried once at night as an infant because I’d wake up 2 minutes before she did and start feeding her the second she needed.

But now it’s completely unpredictable and it’s messing with our heads. I get up, take her back to her bed, and she falls asleep. But I don’t. I stay awake, sometimes for over an hour, jumping up at every sound.

A friend of mine said her 9-year-old wakes her up every night under the pretext that she’s afraid to go to the bathroom in the dark. I said she’s a much better mother than me because I’m putting an end to this long before my kid is 9.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to proceed? Has anybody figured this out and can share a hack?

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15 thoughts on “In Need of a Parenting Hack”

  1. We had an early-rising problem from the very beginning with our child. The move from crib to bed is definitely tough when they figure out they can get out on their own. There is a thing that totally changed our life, but your child has to be developmentally ready for it to work. We use a color-clock that turns green when it’s time to wake up. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and it’s not green (because, duh, it’s the middle of the night) she knows it’s not time to wake up yet and mommy and daddy are sleeping. She calls us in emergencies only. The kid has to be old enough to understand that colors can signify things, though.

    Another thing that might help is figuring out why the child is waking up and what they need you for. In our case, she wanted water in the night so we put a water bottle next to her bed and now she wakes up at night, sips, goes back to sleep on her own.

    Finally: when the kids get even a bit older they start to understand the connection between disrupting a parent’s sleep and that parent’s general level of crankiness, so they are less inclined to wake the parents unnecessarily.

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    1. That’s what I’m hoping she’ll finally realize: we are a lot more fun when we get enough sleep. I hope it happens before I’m ready to be institutionalized because I’m going crazy for lack of sleep.

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  2. This lasts a really long time. It is why there are people who believe in cosleeping — they give up. General plan: if it is still dark out, go to their room and read them to sleep again (or something like that). If it’s light then let them in your bed for a few minutes, wake up, and just get up for the day. This is the best I can do…

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  3. Have you ever asked her why she’s waking you up? If she’s afraid of the dark, a little lamp or flashlight by the bed might help. Nightlights can help, too.

    I have this memory of being told not to wake my parents up before seven or eight in the morning. They bought me a little lamp (followed by lots and lots of book lights, as I started to read more novels), and whenever I would wake up in the middle of the night I would read or play quietly until I either fell asleep or it was exactly 8:24, whichever came first. They also put a nightlight in the bathroom, and kept my door open so I’d have that little light if I needed to go to the bathroom.

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      1. In that case, I definitely recommend the traffic light alarm clock (if you think she’s developmentally ready for it). I started using one with my 3 year old and she loves it (and sticks to it). For us, it was to make sure she doesn’t disturb us until 7 am, rather than for night visits. She loves watching it turn green and always reminds me to turn it on at night if I forget.

        Of course, if Klara is upset in the night (bad dreams, etc) then you don’t want her to think she can’t come find you, but it doesn’t sound like that is the case. [Fwiw, we’ve found that our daughter still cries etc on the rare occasion when she has a bad dream, so I am reassured that the traffic light clock is not stopping her seeking comfort when needed.]

        I also second trying to get to the bottom of what is bothering her (if anything): eg add nightlights to the room, hallway, and bathroom, leave the bedroom door open etc.

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        1. That’s the thing. She’s not scared or upset. She doesn’t need us to use the potty. She does that very well on her own. There’s no real need.

          I’m ordering the clock right now.

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  4. You might try an “Ok to wake” alarm clock. It works like a nightlight, but the light will change to green (meaning “ok to get up”) at the time you set.

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  5. We took a two-pronged approach.

    For wakings before 5am-ish, we’d just very low-key walk her back to bed with minimal interaction. We figured she had woken up and wasn’t sure what to do about it, so we’d guide her back to bed, say just “it’s time for sleeping in your bed now,” pull up the covers, kiss, walk away. The first few nights we had to do it a few times in succession before it “took,” but we were resolutely boring about it and after a week or so, she wasn’t doing it anymore.

    For wakings around 5 (or within an hour or two of us having to be up anyway), we’d just let her crawl in our bed and co-sleep there until we were all ready to get up. I knew that if I tried the whole “walking her back to bed” thing at that hour, I’d be up for the day, and it was easier just to let her have her sleep out in our bed. It started at a time of year when it was getting light out around that hour anyway, so I think that made us seem a little less inconsistent with the two approaches. And she DID fall back asleep pretty quickly. Having a kid in the bed first thing in the morning doesn’t work for everyone’s patterns, but it did for us.

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  6. “She finally figured out that a crib can be climbed out of and it became unsafe.”

    Simple solution: If you don’t want the kid to climb out of the crib, put her blanket on the floor, and then put the crib over the blanket upside down.

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  7. Are there any nights when she’s not woken, or has woken less, and has there been anything in common with the days prior? E.g. is she waking more or less on Saturday&Sunday nights – are weekends more active or less than weekdays, is she perhaps more likely to sleep after dance class day?
    Exercise and fresh air increases tend to help most (maybe a big carbohydrate heavy dinner?) – you may just have to experiment for a while to find out what will work better?

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