Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Cute, Ben. If you call sleep-deprived “healthy,” and constant mommy-brain “wise.”
For parents of early-rising kids, the more accurate adjectives to this little jingle are: tired, drained, and fatigued (no time to rhyme … er, wait …).
My kids get up early. Like before 6 a.m. early. Every day.
Fortunately, they both wake happy. The baby is typically babbling “da da, ba ba,” while the toddler will sing to herself and play with the dolls in her bed. Sweet sounds for a mom to awaken to, right? But before I officially open my eyes to look at the clock, I think to myself, “Maybe, just maybe, they slept in a little today.” Nope. It’s 5:45 a.m. I close my eyes again and silently whimper a string of profanities.
Having early risers comes with a set of “challenges” only other parents of early risers can sympathize with. Here are just a few …
1. There is nowhere to go that early in the morning. I know my kids aren’t the only ones on the planet who get up so early. So why, then, do stores, museums, zoos, etc. not open until 10 or 11? If activities were run by young kids, they would have a prompt start time of the ass crack of dawn. Confession: The kids and I often do our grocery shopping at 7 a.m. It’s the only thing that’s open. Hey, might as well do something productive while you’re waiting for all the kid activities to open. (Bonus: fewer people are there at that time of day, so you’ll feel less judged about all of the processed, high-fructose crap in your cart.)
2. You run out of things to do with the kids before 8 a.m. It’s not uncommon for us to have breakfast, play with toys, read books, and watch an entire full-length Disney movie before this hour. I’ve never been so jealous of Sleeping Beauty in my life. Unfortunately, we can’t typically go outside to play because it’s still dark most of the year. (Don’t even get me started on Daylight Savings Time.)
3. Nap times never coincide with other kids’. When your baby is up before 6 a.m., she’s ready for her first nap before most other kids are even awake for the day. I have to strategically try to keep her awake until 8:30 a.m. before she crashes into her crib for a nap. You know it’s an extra early day when she’s had a solid nap and is awake again before Live with Kelly and Michael begins. Perfect. So while my kids are napping, other kids are awake, and vice versa. Playdates? Yeah, they’re not the easiest to plan.
4. Mealtimes are ridiculously early. Lunch at 10? Dinner at 4? The day’s schedule is based on the waketime, and when you have breakfast at 6:30 a.m., everything gets pushed earlier. When 3:30 rolls around, you might find me in the kitchen prepping dinner. And we’re typically done eating and cleaned up by 5:30 at the latest. Why eat so early? Because…
5. …Bedtime is before the sun goes down. Yes, there are still neighborhood children happily playing outside, but my kids are starting their bedtime routines by 7 p.m., frankly because they’re flipping exhausted. As a result, we miss most evening events. “Move their bedtime later,” I’ve been told countless times. “Maybe they’ll sleep in!” Negative. Doesn’t work that way. This is a rookie mistake that seasoned parents learn very quickly. Early-rising kids are pre-programmed to wake at the same torturous time regardless of what time their little heads hit the pillow at night.
6. You laugh at friends’ complaints about their kids getting up early … at 8:00. (You laugh because otherwise you’d slap them.) Really? I haven’t slept in until 8:00 in years. “Sleeping in” at our house would be 7:00 at the latest, and I can count how many times that has happened on one hand since having kids. The irony of those rare mornings is that despite wanting nothing more than to sleep in, parents find themselves naturally wide awake at the normal time and cannot go back to sleep due to utter shock of the still-sleeping kiddos.
So how to survive these early-rising challenges? Keep reminding yourself that most teenagers have to be dragged out of bed in the morning. Great news! You only have 10+ more years of this painful schedule. Until then, be sure to stock up on caffeine the next time you’re at the grocery store at 7 a.m. You’re gonna need it.