The first cry from my 20-month-old daughter comes most days at 5:07 a.m. If I jump out of bed immediately and sprint to her room I can get to her before she starts full-on crying and wakes her brother.

Then the get-her-back-to-sleep game begins. First, I turn on her lullaby CD, make sure she has her soother, two dolls and baby orca stuffie and change her diaper stealthily, all without making too much eye contact.

I know the jig is up if she starts yelling “Milk! Milk!” or “Book! Book!” If I hear either of those words, I know it’s all over. She’s up. I’m up. I turn on the lights.

If, however, I successfully change her with no shouts, there is a tiny chance she will go back to sleep. I bundle up an armful of toddler, dolls and “bankies” and rock her in our rickety old chair. The chair is on its last legs, but the reassuring creaks and cracks lull my little one back to calmness.

Her big blue eyes start to flutter a little and I gather her up, ease her into the crib and tiptoe out of the room. I close her door as quietly as possible, then pause at my bedroom door and listen. Music to my ears is hearing my husband and five-year-old son breathing deeply in the big bed, still asleep. Most mornings I hear a chipper little boy voice asking, “Daddy? Is it time to wake up? Where’s Mommy? Can I go find Mommy?”

My favourite days are those when all three are sleeping and there is a chance for a few minutes alone. I tiptoe down the stairs, quieter than Santa on Christmas Eve. The bottom step is the worst; no matter where I step, some days it creaks, other days it doesn’t. Once down, I sneak into the kitchen, careful not to turn on many lights.

I flick the switch on the coffee maker. Usually, the minute the coffee begins to drip, one of the children wakes up. Our coffee maker is so loud that it sounds exactly like the pot full of boiling eggs my grandma used to make when I slept over. If I’m lucky enough to pour some coffee, the three loud beeps signalling that the brewing is finished will most definitely wake someone up and so begins the cry of “Momma! Momma!”

If, by some miracle, no one wakes from the beeps, I’ll either knock something over, step on a piece of Lego or crash into the table and break the silence.

I love it when one child wakes before the other. I pour them some milk and have some precious early morning cuddles with them before the sibling rivalry, hugs, yells and laughter begin for another day.

Anna Sorgard is a mom of two, living in Victoria. She blogs at web link.