Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Sleep Solution

So, I feel a little sheepish even posting about this, because I suspect there may already be some well-known book out there that has already discussed this idea and everybody else knows about it but me (In which case, thanks for telling me!).

I wouldn't know because I'm the mom that doesn't read those books, breaks all the sleep rules, and occasionally still has an elementary-age child climb into my bed at night. I figure (1.) there are worse things than having your child want to cuddle with you at night and (2.) they will probably outgrow it by the time they turn 15 or 16 anyway.

I will admit that I was that mother who broke the rules and nursed (or bottle-fed) her babies to sleep every night. I mean, it works, for heaven's sakes, and after a long day with a baby, who in their right mind is actually going to wake their child back up after they fall asleep nursing in order to go through some elaborate routine and listen to 30 minutes or more of crying it out??

But I digress.

When child number three arrived in our family with a wildly erratic sleep schedule that did not become regular after many months of adjusting to life with us, I realized we had a problem and could use some structure.

Maybe it could be blamed on sleeping in a noisy orphanage, but whatever the reason, Joshua seemed to live by the motto: "If I close my eyes too long I will surely miss something" and it was anyone's guess what time he would be ready to start each day. One thing was certain: I would be summoned at a very early hour and he would be very insistent that I get him out of his room RIGHT NOW or else there was going to be big trouble (like a train being smashed on Caleb's sleeping head).

I needed help.

I came across a lot of advice about putting an alarm clock in the child's room, or maybe a lamp that switches on to signal when it's time to get up.

But I have two problems with that. Number one is that it doesn't allow for the chance - be it ever so remote - that the child might actually sleep in and then you've just woken him up.

Number two is the fact that my early bird shares a room with his big brother who is decidedly not a morning person. Caleb is one of the sweetest, most easy-going kids, but if awakened too early, he becomes something resembling this:

So to make a long story short, here's what we came up with:

This cute night light was made by husband when he took me on a date to one of those pottery-painting places. It sits in the boys room on a timer, and when we are sitting on the floor at night reading stories, the light comes on, signaling that it's time to get in bed.

And then the rule is simply this: Joshua is not allowed off his bed as long as the light is on (it turns off automatically when we want him to wake up).

It has worked beautifully. I can have time to myself in the morning, it doesn't wake Caleb up, and it doesn't even wake Joshua up if he gets a wild hair and decides to sleeps in a little.

And if I want to, I can even sleep in until 7am! (cue Hallelujah Chorus)


The Momma Bird said...

What kind of timer are you using? I think your idea is BRILLIANT! My 6-year-old is a SUPER early riser and I'd like to keep him in his bed until at least 6:30.

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

great idea. Both my kids hated going to sleep and there were no orphanages to keep them up! The oldest is a night owl, the youngest wakes me each morning with "Mommy, GET UP! Mommy, get up NOW!!" We totally need to try the timer/nightlight idea!

Jenny said...

Great idea! My daughter sometimes gets up early too. It makes the whole day a mess!

aunt gigi said...

We are just using the kind of digital timer that you put lamps on when you leave on vacation (my husband's department...)

debby94 said...

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it.