The Great Alarm Clock Experiment

As I began this post, my eyes were swirly and there were little birds flying around my head and I had a headache.

I had been up since 4 a.m.

Because I have an early riser in the form of a 3 1/2 year old and if he's up, the whole house is up.


I don't actually think I woke up at all yesterday. I think I was sleep-shopping, sleep-driving, and sleep-cooking. Sleep-picking-them-up-from-school, sleep-eating, sleep-Twittering, sleep-cleaning. A shower didn't help. No amount of coffee helped. I was quickly reminded of how much I enjoy and need my precious sleep and how this is the one perk I looked forward to during both of my sons' newborn phases. Except that it's not a perk. Because I was up at 4 a.m.

So we decided to conduct a little experiment. The Great Alarm Clock Experiment of 0-10. In fact, I was going to write this post yesterday, but I was too much of a zombie and couldn't even form a sentence.

During my sleep-shopping, I went out and bought an alarm clock! With big digital numbers, and a projector that puts these big numbers up on the ceiling and that plays all sorts of fun ambient sounds. Because what I realized is that, really, how is he supposed to know when to get up? Except for the completely dark house and all the sleeping bodies (which should be obvious enough), I can yell at him to go back to his room when he comes in my room at 4 a.m., but he has no idea for how long he should stay. So it's only natural for a 3 1/2 year old to come back into our room 5 minutes later to check and see if it's time yet, because he has no idea how much time has passed. It must feel like forever in that tiny head! I admit that I do feel bad for that when I am of sound mind but when it's 4 in the morning, I can get a little testy about it!

No, he can't tell time yet. But he can understand that you stay in your room until the pretty sounds come on, right? Surely that makes sense. (Right?)

So we practiced at naptime. I told him to stay in his room until the sounds come on and he was so excited about his new clock and the cool numbers on his ceiling. He kept running in and turning his lights off and looking at the time on his ceiling. He doesn't know time but he does know numbers, so I told him that when the 1 turns to a 3, then the sounds would come on. He looked like he understood and then said something about aliens so then I wasn't so sure. But 3 o'clock magically came! And he stayed in his room until naptime was "over!"

But would he stay in there at bedtime? Oh please please please pretty pretty please, dear God, I can't take another sleepless night. I just can't. I don't function. I want to function.

Last night I set the alarm clock on "Rainforest" (he chose it) for 6:30 a.m. At 6:28 I woke up magically and felt like I did when the baby had a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep. You know, sort of panicky and excited at the same time. And at 6:31, my door opened, and a happy little boy came in and exclaimed, "Mommy!! I stayed in my room until the music came on!!" And I was joyfully and blissfully happy!! Oh please don't be a fluke. Please say we are geniuses and have found the answer! Pretty please. I'm not above begging. I don't know who I'm begging but I'm hoping someone's listening!

So there you have it. One night of sleep and a very happy mommy typing away, already coffeed and showered and waiting for another round of experimentation.

I'll let you know how it goes. I am definitely setting it for 6:45 tomorrow. I bet he won't even know! (Am I flying too close to the sun?)

Have you had this experience??? What worked for you?? Please share! Because if this turns out not to work, I might die.
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  1. That is AWESOME! Very clever "trick"!!!

  2. That is just awesome that he got it so quick!! Yay for sleep!!!!

  3. Love it! Great idea. If it works I'm stealing it. Keep us posted!

  4. Kind of ironic, I'm a walking zombie today because my 2yo is doing the same thing! We did the same thing with our older child around that age, but ours is a bunny clock -- when the nightlight part, with the bunny lying in bed asleep, is lit, he knew to stay in bed. When it switched over to the bunny running about outside in the sunlight, he knew it was time to get up. Worked awesomely! Unfortunately, Harry is a little young to get it. He thinks the clock is for pressing buttons and that's about it!

    Sounds like you may have stumbled on a good solution!

  5. What a great's hoping its the first of many!!!

  6. Karena, now THAT'S an awesome clock!! Where did you find such a thing??

  7. What a GREAT idea! Now if I could only get my 21mo to understand this concept....I'd be feeling much less sleep deprived than I already am, thanks to a certain little 2mo. :-) Do keep us posted on how he does the rest of the week.

  8. We got a digital clock for Jacob when he was 3 or 4 and wrote down on a piece of paper "7:00". We told him the clock had to match the paper before he was allowed to come out. Worked like a charm!

  9. Christie -- I found it in some random baby goods store over here. It was *perfect* ! But sounds like your solution is working great too!


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