We had a breakthrough this morning.
Though some may say that waking up at 6am is NOT, in fact, a good thing, I would beg to differ.
For the last two weeks or so, Owen has been wide awake in the 5 o’clock hour. I don’t know what the difference is between 5:50am and 6:00am, but for me, there is one. Prior to that stretch he was doing awesome, waking up at 6:30am, 6:40am, and a few times nearly 7:00am. Then the latest ear infection took hold and I went away to London for a few nights for work and this very early waking started. Luckily (umm… NOT!), this trend began just before the time change. Which means that as I woke at 5:20am I was realizing that in a few days that was going to be 4:20am, which was just not ok. For either of us.
So last week I started moving bedtime a little later by a 10 or so minutes each night, hoping to slowly nudge Owen’s sleep/wake cycle a little later. In the mornings I went to him when he cried and cuddled and rocked and played quietly in the darkened room, trying to convince his little body that it was still night time and use light to help his circadian rhythm reset. As we got closer to the time change I started treating his wakeups like midnight wakeups (going to him, rubbing his back until he was quiet and then leaving the room). Lather, rinse, repeat until an appropriate wakeup time.
Unfortunately what I realized over the course of last week is that Owen came to LOVE these little morning parties with Mama. Instead of sleeping a little later each day, he was progressively waking up earlier and earlier, and as soon as I came in, even to shush him and put him back to sleep, he popped up out of his crib, shouting, “Up! Up! Ree! Boo! Mommy! Doggie!”. Up. Up. Read. Book. Mommy. Doggie. Although I didn’t realize it until a few days later, I think our little pajama parties had the opposite of the intended effect. It seemed like Owen was getting up even earlier so we could have our quiet little giggly playtime in the dark. It’s actually the same thing that happened when Owen was tiny. If I went in to his room when he was crying at night, he was immediately up and wanted to play or eat or snuggle. If I left him alone for a bit, he always went back to sleep much quicker than he did with intervention.
I have to admit, though. No matter what time that clock read, I secretly loved our morning playtimes too. Owen is a hilarious little baby and the way we communicate with words now has opened our playtime up in amazing ways. We talk. We laugh. We make up games. We pretend. We read. We read A LOT. We make silly sounds. We make each other crack up. We were having a little too much fun for 5:00am. It’s no wonder he wants to get up so early.
Since we had changed his schedule around so much last week to work around the time change, I decided to give our same old schedule (now at the “new” time) a shot for a week before changing anything else. No more morning playtimes until 6:00am. I will give him the opportunity to put himself back to sleep like normal, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll go in a shush him and then leave the room again. Just like the old days when we were working on him sleeping through the night. It was a long time ago, but the techniques still work!
This morning he fussed a bit at 5:20am. And just as I was about to go in to pat his back and shhhhhhh for awhile, he was quiet. He had fallen back asleep. Until 6:00am on the dot. Though I loved those morning parties and cuddles, I am happy to have them wait until 6:00am now. Let’s hope the pattern continues. I think all he needed was a little regularity. Maybe in the spring we will try the cold turkey time change. At least that change will give me an extra hour in the morning, when I need it most!
How did your kids handle the time change? What about you?