YouTube mornings

Kids are different. My second and third appreciate sleep. They go to bed easy and like to stay asleep until they have to get up. My first and fourth have a much more mixed relationship with the world of slumber. These temperamental differences have been there since babyhood. I did not do anything much different with one or the other. People are who they are.

That said, I was in my 20s when Kid #1 came along. I’m 40 now. I am pretty sure my energy for coping with kid sleep issues is less now than it was then. Which means we have to figure out other ways to deal with the ramifications.

The little guy — who is turning four this week — likes to wake up early. If he naps, he goes to bed later; if he doesn’t, he goes to bed at a reasonable time for a pre-schooler (around 8 p.m.) He’s definitely tired then. But regardless of when he goes to bed, he likes to wake up early. 5-5:30 is pretty standard. I thought this was getting better, but I think that was just a lovely 1-2 month grace period when the nap was fully gone. Now his sleep needs are shifting lower, so even without the nap he’s back up.

He’s old enough to entertain himself in his room, so we’ve tried the colored clock (that turns green when it’s time to get out of his room) but this is much like a sticker chart in that it doesn’t work for a kid who does not care about getting a sticker. We taught him to read the time, and he knows his numbers well enough that he fully comprehends the idea that a first number of “6” or “7” is OK to get up. But again, he doesn’t care. As he told me this morning when he came to wake me up, “5 is close to 6.”

In theory, he could just go play in the basement or something if he feels like getting out of the bedroom, but what I like to think of as his “experimental” streak is strong. The only thing that we can guarantee will keep him out of trouble is…YouTube.

And so, a typical morning in our house looks like this. Little guy comes to get parents at 5-5:30 a.m. One of us gets up and turns on the home computer. We set him up with a snack, we turn on the light in the bathroom (so he can go if he needs to) and he watches videos of excavators or dump trucks for 60-90 minutes. We go back to sleep.

I knew internet essay protocol (the irony!) calls for feeling guilty about this. And at times I wonder if I should feel that way. But then I realize this might be making a problem where there isn’t one. The settings are such that it would be very hard for him to find horrible things. He’s happy as a clam. I need my sleep. He gets plenty of non-screen attention and stimulation the rest of the day.

And so I find myself feeling grateful that he is old enough to find YouTube entertaining. When he was a baby and toddler we had no choice but to get up. Now I can start my day for real when the clock number starts with a “6.” (And I can idly fantasize that someone will get me a clock and only let me out of bed when it turns green…)



13 thoughts on “YouTube mornings

  1. I have 5 children and my oldest and youngest are like this. My oldest was so bad, he was hospitalized at 6 weeks because he could stay up 24 plus hours with no sleep whatsoever. We found out, he was really affected by the noise of the house. In the beginning, we would not only do a blanket over the window with room darkening curtains that were taped to the wall so not an ounce of light came in and then we would duct tape his door so no light could filter in. We also used a sound machine. My oldest and youngest are 17 years apart, so I was much older when I had her. She was pretty happy sleeping into until 9 am-10 am the problem was she was not going to sleep until 3-3:30 am. Again, we used the same techniques as the oldest. The key was to make sure there was not an ounce of light in her room and to make sure the sound machine ran all night until she woke up. We could not use a clock in her room at all because the glow of the clock would wake her up.

    1. Fascinating! I love hearing about other people’s out of the norm sleep experiences. I am also very very affected by light (no clocks for me! In a hotel room I have to cover it with a towel). So I was ready for my oldest to be the same way. But I wasn’t ready for the guilt from my MIL (and others) about how I was setting up my kids to be terrible sleepers. My daughter woke up for the day 2 hours early when we tried the damn ready to wake clock- way too bright for her. It’s nice to know we aren’t the only ones!

  2. As a mom of three now adult young ladies, there were definitely things I did that, on isolation, I’m not winning parenting awards for. Fortunately, parenting is an entire package, not simply the things you do for survival. My three have less than 2.5 years separating the oldest and the youngest, and there was plenty of time a screen let me eat, shower or sleep. But my ladies are healthy, happy, well-adjusted individuals making their way through the world with little or no scarring for the fact that I was wise enough to put my own needs first so I could be a better human being.

  3. My three year-old sounds so much like your son. He is our youngest (of three) by far, and I am pushing 50 (no, that’s not a typo!), so the exhaustion is numbing. I often half-heartedly lament how he gets so much more TV than his sisters did, but I could not make it through to his bedtime without those “safe” breaks.

  4. I’ve got a 10-year-old and and a 12-year-old. The youngest still watches TV/YouTube in the morning; the oldest has opted out. I’ve never felt badly about it. Their screen time was fixed with a hard deadline of going to school.

  5. I think my husband was like your youngest. He’s 6 of 7, so maybe there’s something to being at the tail end, but he was and still is an experimenter (with similar results!) and an early riser, say 4 or 5. 6 is considered sleeping in.

    I’m waiting for your report that Number 4 has experimented with the computer and the bits are arranged on the floor.

  6. I have a love/hate relationship with YouTube Kids. It has been annoying at times, but also a life saver in our house. My kids are 4 and 6. We let them watch in the morning while they eat breakfast and my husband and I shower and get ready for work. They also watch a little after school while they eat dinner and I prep dinner for my husband and I. It is the only way I can keep the 4-yr-old out of my hair so I can work in the kitchen!

    About 2 years ago my 6-yr-old was doing everything to delay going to bed and it was causing a lot of stress for us. We decided to start letting him watch some videos for a set time (usually 20 min) in bed. It made our bedtime routine much easier, even though I would prefer to read him a book and him to go right to sleep with no screen! My 4-yr-old has recently requested some screentime at bed as well. I don’t want them to do this forever, but when my husband and I are burned out at night, fighting with them at bedtime is not helpful for any of us.

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