For early-rising babies, parents are told to simply make the room darker, or push the morning nap back. But as Joel Defries has discovered, it doesn’t always work. Here are his ideas for surviving 5am starts…
So it is that every morning you’re awoken by the demonic screaming from your baby, you wearily check the clock and sigh. Of course: it’s 5am. Their piercing cry is like an annoying siren and you say to yourself:
“I’m going to leave them, they need to learn. They WILL fall back asleep”.
But it gets louder … and louder. So you give in after thirty-seconds, and then begins the ‘cycle of doom’.
Being up at 5am makes your day feel like it has lasted a month. By the time the clock strikes 8am, your baby resembles some raver who has just returned from an illegal squat rave in the woods and hasn’t slept for 4 days.
Despite your desperation to let them sleep, you want them to fight it so they can stop having this infuriating mid-morning nap. Lorraine hasn’t even started, you can’t fucking sleep yet.
Just wait. Just have one long lunchtime nap and then you’ll stop waking up at 5am. Everyone wins.
You go to the shop in the pram and they’re instantly asleep. Fine. Whatever. You’ll give them 10 minutes and then they will sleep for about two years at lunchtime.
They sleep for 40 minutes at lunch. God this is terrible. Maybe they were overtired?? But how?? You’re delirious and feel the world is against you.
So, what should one do to escape the dreaded cycle of doom? There are various tricks you can use.
Make their bedroom into the child equivalent of a dark room. Think mid-century Pinterest vibes combined with some kind of dingy jail cell. Don’t let any light in. Soundproof it and turn on white noise so loud that it sounds like the inside of a jet engine.
This way, when they wake up they’ll think it’s still midnight and go straight back to sleep and wake up at 10am or something. (Of course I have tried this and my son still wakes up at 5am. When I go into his room I can’t see or hear a thing in there. It’s fucking terrifying. Poor thing must wake up and think he’s lost his sight.)
Embrace it. Be those guys who wake up at 5am by choice. See it as a joy (laced in torture). Get a mindfulness app and sit there for seven hours and do baby/parent meditation. (If my son stays still for more than 20 seconds I am deeply panicked that something terrible has happened.)
Get them hooked on TV. The moment they’re up just stick something on the TV. Love Island, Mad Men, Peter Fucking Rabbit or whatever does the job? Obviously not creepy Cbeebies shows; they are weird and too hyper. Just put something on you can both enjoy. I mean, it’s 5am for God’s sake; one’s entitled to some small joys.
Try taking them to a foreign country and get them in to a time zone so polar opposite to the GMT clock, that upon their return they no longer have any concept of night or day. Yes, there are drawbacks with this – cost, temporary insanity and the fact that they may never grasp the concept of night and day again.
They then grow up pallid and sickly, make no friends, play World of Warcraft all day and are constantly on the Dark Web. But it’s a punt you may feel is worth taking.
Please let me know if any of the above work for you. I have been up since 5am so I am not even sure any of this makes sense.
Follow Joel Defries on Instagram: @joel.defries