I am bringing back the 7 O’clock Rule.
Let me explain.
Approximately 20 years ago when my children were cute, cherubic boys with chubby cheeks and chubby feet, they would rise and shine when their little internal alarms went off, bringing their sweet selves tumbling down the hall on weekend mornings well before this mamma was ready to start her day.
A savvy pediatrician recommended putting digital clocks in their bedrooms. Maybe they were too young to tell time, but they were old enough to know their numbers.
The 7 O’clock Rule went like this: If the boys woke up before the seven appeared in the first position on the clock, they could get out of bed and play but stay in their rooms. However, when the lucky seven finally materialized on the clock – BOOM – they could come rushing down the hallway to start the weekend, causing chaos under our covers.
In theory, it was a great idea. In reality, the rule was understood but oh-so difficult for little boys to follow.
As an empty nester once again, I am bringing the 7 O’clock Rule back, this time for my pets. Obviously, my cats and dogs cannot tell real time, but they have their own internal circadian rhythm which allows them to sense some passing of time and also a schedule for routine activities such as walks, sleep, and yes, mealtime.
I have worked tirelessly over the 16-year span of our current pack consisting of two dogs and two cats to keep them on a regimented feeding schedule. Dinner is always at 5:00 PM or as close as possible. Often the pack gets restless and starts prancing, nudging, and barking to be fed early. I do my best to hold off until the designated time.
It is the morning routine which is more trying, especially for the cats. Not saying one species is more intelligent than the other (opinions and studies vary on this topic; personally, I think cats are indifferent to what we WANT them to do on purpose), but it is easier to keep the dogs quiet and asleep until 7:00 AM. This I can control; they gently snore and dream until I rise out of bed.
The cats, however, start needling me shortly after 6:00 AM. Granted, when my children still lived at home and were in school, our days started long before 7:00 AM, but with just me here with the cats and dogs, I am putting my foot down and making breakfast time no earlier than 7:00 AM.
How to address this feline problem? According to some quick research, evidently they could be bored, although my 11- and 16-year-old cats wrestle all day long, so how bored could they be at their ages? Some experts think cats rise early because they do not have a routine, but my household SO has a routine making this suggestion ridiculous! Finally, there is the thought that the cats could be…. hungry! Absurdly true but I am sticking to that routine and totally keeping the 7 O’clock Rule in place.
The best advice? Ignore them. Sigh. Much easier said than done.
So, as I let sleeping dogs lie, I will continue to ignore the 13-pound cat who sits on me and the 10-pound cat who is louder than any other pet in the pack when he wants your attention, and I will wait until that lucky seven rolls around again.
Enforcing the rules,