I wish I could claim some amazing parenting skills, but honestly, I think it was as simple as starting the routine when they were so little they couldn't complain, and we haven't deviated from it in seven years.
At the end of the night, our routine is:
- Shower (that's right, shower, not bath - life changing, I tell you)
- Brush Teeth
- Read Books
- Lights Out
- Mommy Sings a Song
- Hugs, Kisses, Goodnight, Sleep Tight
- Mommy escapes downstairs for an hour or so of blissful quiet time interrupted only by the low murmur of the TV
All of this occurs by 8PM during the school year, but even during the summer, lights out is rarely after 8:30. And my brilliant kiddos sleep like... well, sleep like babies, with nary the "I need a drink" or "I need a nightlight" or such interruption. Lucky, lucky, lucky me. For years, they would wake up around 7AM, which after the infant years still seems a lot like sleeping in.
Important context: Mommy needs the kiddos in bed by 8PM so that I can be toes up myself by 9:30 at the latest. You know I run (and if you don't, you can read up on it right here). On average, I'm up around 4:45 so that I can get my workout done and be back home to see the kiddos before they head off to school and I to work. I long ago accepted I may not be CEO material, because I am most definitely not a 5-hours-of-sleep kind of girl. I can function on 6 or 7; eight turns me into a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed go-getter; nine feels like the height of luxury, only to be achieved on a vacation or rare weekend morning.
Back to the kiddos and their circadian rhythms. Asleep by 8, wake up at 7. Except for recently. I've noticed in the last several months that, as I pull back into the driveway after my early morning run (or swim, or spin class, or whatever), the light in Caroline's room is on. We're talking 6:45, sometimes as early as 6:30.
Hard to get annoyed or upset about your daughter waking up early so that she can read - in fact, if I squint just a little bit, I can see the past, when another little girl would keep a flashlight next to her bed, pull the covers all the way up to the headboard, and sacrifice shut eye for the joy of finishing my favorite Nancy Drew. Said another way - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
This morning I pulled into the driveway at 6:35, and seeing her light was on, headed up the stairs to say good morning. The big surprise today was seeing the light on in John's room, too. I checked on him, and found him reading the latest Star Wars book I brought home from the library last night.
I know the saying goes, "the early bird gets the worm." I'd much rather that my early birds get the words.