When to tell your child about plans

Friday 8PM Chicago, IL

Mama:"You have to go to bed Amelia because tomorrow we have swimming class!"

Amelia: "I want to go to swimming class."

Mama: "That's tomorrow, when the sun comes out. Now you have to go to bed and sleep through the night."

Do you know how many times I've made this mistake? I want my daughter to go to bed so I try to entice her with the exciting plans for tomorrow. You think I would have learned by now.

Amelia did sleep through the night until Saturday but not until the sun came out. My lovely three year old was up at 4:59AM, ready, willing and able to go to her lessons. She has no concept of time, so she couldn't comprehend that class started 4 hours and 15 minutes later. I tried in vain to pull the "the sun is not out yet. Stay in bed until the sun wakes up" technique to no avail.  As you can see, I threw in the towel, made myself a large cup of coffee and by 6AM the girl was in her bathing suit and cover up.

So my question to you veterans in the field of parenting (those of you that have passed the toddler phase) is, when do you tell your child about plans? When do they understand what "later" means?

I know of someone who didn't tell her kids about a trip to Disney World until she had to wake them up to take the flight in the morning. The scary part is that those boys were not toddlers.

My cousin wouldn't tell her daughter they were going to the doctor until she was in the parking lot of the office building. But that's because the kid hated going to the pediatrician and would scream and cry from the moment they left the house.

I am even afraid to tell Amelia about her birthday. What if, in anticipation, she wakes up at 4AM for the next month? Ay Mama!

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