Most children, especially those with sensory processing disorders, benefit from a structured morning routine. Unfortunately, once a morning routine is established, children rarely sleep later than their usual wake-up time. As much as you might fantasize about sleeping late on a Saturday or Sunday, your children probably make sure that you are up as soon as they are. Here are some tips that might get you some extra shut-eye this weekend, without ever turning on the TV.
Have Breakfast Easily Accessible
At night pour the cereal into bowls and cover with a napkin. Place the filled bowls and spoons on the kitchen table. Pour just enough milk into cups and place them on a reachable shelf in the fridge, or have mini milk cartons available to prevent spilling. Children as young as 3 years old can manage this self-serve breakfast independently. A bit of a mess is inevitable, but worth the extra sleep!
Set Up Activities
For older children: Teach your children that after (or before) breakfast on weekends they can play on their own for a while. Set up games that your child enjoys, has already mastered and can play with independently within sight, reachable, and organized enticingly. For example, have a puzzle, Legos and a dress-up box ready in the middle of the play area.
For younger children: Place enticing toys that your child favors between his or her room and yours. Hopefully your child will get distracted on the way to your room and play.
If your child is still in a crib: setup crib toys that will keep your baby entertained for a while.
For children who can read and tell time:
Set up a treasure hunt: This one takes a bit more preparation, but what wouldn’t you do for some extra sleep? Send your child on a treasure hunt that takes all morning. For example, start by leaving a note on the kitchen table saying “eat Cheerios, check the back of the box.” On the back of the Cheerios box tape a note that says, “Dump out the Legos a build a huge castle.” In the Lego box will be a note that says, “Draw a picture of your castle with a prince and a princess and hang it on the fridge with a magnet.” On the fridge will be yet another note. You get the idea. The last note can say something along the lines of “Clean up the playroom and at 9:00 am claim your prize from Mom.”
You get some valuable sleep time while your children develop important skills including self-organization, independent play, imagination, creativity, and patience.
Written by Ariela Warburg MS, OTR/L & Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR/L, Director of POTS