It’s not fun being woken up at the crack of dawn every day by your toddler – especially when you’re shattered or feeling that Friday night glass of wine. But there are ways you can help your little one create her own parent-free fun, leaving you to crawl back to bed for a few more precious minutes. Feeling guilty? Don't! Remember independent play is good for your little one’s development.
For a weekend treat, leave a few games and toys in a sack beside your tot’s bed for her to find when she wakes up. It’s bound to keep her busy for at least 20 minutes – giving you a little longer to catch up on some sleep.
Turn on the TV
OK, so screen time isn’t something we’d usually recommend but when you know you’ll be a much better parent after a little more sleep, a little bit of telly time can work wonders. So crack out the Disney DVDs – Madagascar always has a habit of putting you to sleep anyway.
Create a magic box
Get together a box of toys and games that your child doesn't play with in the day. 'Fill it with easy-to-do puzzles, building blocks and fine motor skill toys that require attention, such as easy threading or click-together toys,' says childcare expert Fi Star Stone.
If your little one loves puzzles, raid a charity shop for some bargain buys and challenge your toddler to finish one quietly on your bedroom floor while you snooze a little longer. If she can finish it on her own, let her choose the next activity of the day as a treat. Make sure you choose something simple, she can achieve, otherwise she'll only ask for your help which sort of defeats the object.
Have a bedroom dance party
A CD player in your little one’s room can give you that Sunday mini lie-in you’ve been longing for. Put a CD on when your tot wakes and she’ll occupy herself dancing around – leaving you to snuggle back down, as long as you can sleep through Let it go that is! 'A podcast is another great idea,' says Fi. 'These are lovely for that just-woken-up moment in the morning and perfect for little ones to listen to with you. They're also ideal for long car journeys!'
Get out the tablet
Again, not ideal for everyday use, but tablets are a clever way to keep your toddler entertained when you just don't have the energy. 'While I wouldn't suggest leaving them totally unattended, within sight a favourite TV show played on a tablet or a simple toddler-friendly game is an ideal way of amusing your little one while you sneak a little doze beside them!' says Fi.
Invest in a clever toy
The LeapFrog Read with Me may cost more than your average game, but when it comes to lie-ins, it’s worth every penny. Your tot can take the soft toy to sleep with her and it will read aloud one of five stories to her when she wakes in the morning. You won’t even have to leave the bed. Result!
Leave out the building blocks
Raiding the Mega Blocks is bound to keep your little one entertained for 10 minutes or so. Encourage her to get building on your bedroom floor so you can keep an eye on her, while you get a little more shuteye.
Granted, your toddler building a den on your bed may mean you don’t get to actually go back to sleep but at least you can stay in bed as your tot builds around/over/on top of you.
Playing with daddy
This one’s simple – and effective. You stay in bed (warm, snug and undisturbed), while your partner gets up and plays princesses and dragons with your tot until you feel human enough to surface.
How do you keep your child entertained in the morning? Let us know in the comments box below.