Monday, July 2, 2012
The early bird gets...room-darkening curtains
You know that you need to get more sleep when your three year-old asks you: “Are you frustrated, mama?” For the last few weeks, our early-riser has decided to shift his wake-up time from 6am to 530…and even 5am at times. This change has had us all sleep-deprived, frayed at the edges. My son would get unmistakably cranky and melt down close to naptime and bedtime. I struggled through my days with a cloud hanging over me, my work productivity dwindling. Coffee barely cut through that fog, and I found myself partaking in an afternoon nap with my kids, lest I melt down too in the early evening, so tired from the day. My husband, the coffee abstainer, started joining me for a morning cup of joe. We were all becoming bleary-eyed zombies.
A 6am wake-up call is my limit. Anything earlier I cannot and will not tolerate. Now I am not asking for 7am, 630am, or even 615am. Just 6am, please. I have waxed poetic about my kids’ routines, and how we follow them religiously. As a parent, I have come to understand the fundamental importance of sleep for my children, for myself…for everyone’s sake. Otherwise, I become mama the grouch. So what to do when that system breaks down? Other than this, like his maternal grandfather (who has taken a nap every day out of his 71 year-old life) overall the dude is terrific sleeper—he can sleep through almost anything, and when he’s out, he’s out like a light.
We wondered, was he napping too late? We started limiting his nap to two hours from his usual two and a half, hoping that would help. Tried it for almost two weeks with no improvement….it only worsened his early morning wake-ups to 5am. One day, the dude even refused to nap; instead of the sound of sleep (read: blissful quiet), I heard him running around in circles and singing very loudly in his room. Got him to nap eventually, but he protested, saying to me, “I don’t want to.”
Oh boy. This was an overtired preschooler talking. I had to think—what could be amiss? I realized finally that even with room-darkening shades, there was light from the early morning sunrise sneaking around the shades through his east-facing windows. I remembered that in Florida, the dude would sleep soundly until the local sunrise, almost 7am. I talked with our pediatrician; ever pragmatic, she advised me emphatically, “Buy curtains. Anything to keep that room dark. Make sure that NO LIGHT AT ALL gets through that child’s room.” Really a no brainer...for someone who is well-rested and capable of higher-level thought. Hoping to get some of my tired brain cells back, I searched amazon.com and without hesitation bought the room-darkening curtains, special room-darkening curtain rods, the whole shebang.
It took a little elbow grease to get the curtains up and going (read: tired parents should really NOT be operating power drills). But the results were so worth it, with 6 am wake-ups for him and for us the last couple of days, with big naps to boot. Yesterday, the dude even requested that I close the curtains for his nap. He woke up and told me, “I feel better with the curtains.” Yes, my love, I feel better too.