Fostering,  Life,  Shopping

Why We Sleep Clock

The sleep clock entered our lives a month or so after our foster kids came bursting through the door like the whirl-wind you might imagine (and a whole lot more I promise you couldn’t dream up — because we didn’t/hadn’t/couldn’t — which is probably the reason the chaos hit us so hard. Emotionally and Physically).

Among the lengthy list of “stuff” (i.e. behaviors) we had to navigate with these two little ones were sleep issues.


Issues that differed between the two.

For one (9 months old) it was a matter of waking in the night and then holding us hostage the remainder of the night because he simply refused to sleep if he was put back down.

For the other (21 months) it was screaming fits that you can’t imagine, for hours, about bed and nap-time. Not staying asleep. Then inability to convince her that is, in fact, still the middle of the night and too early to get up for the day (cue next screaming fit).

Screaming that continued to torment me in the very few hours I did get some shut-eye. Screaming I heard in the rare moments it was quiet in the house. Screaming that still haunts my dreams from time to time.

The struggle was unreal.

A new family. A new environment. Uncertainty. Confusion. Fear. Lack of schedule being part of your history.

Naps? What are those?

It’s hard to really know what all contributed to this fight – but it wasn’t a fight we could relent on and simply let be.

It was one of those things that we simply had to dig in and figure out because…

Kids need sleep.

We ALL need sleep.

For the one a little sleep training went a LONG way and it wasn’t long before we had him sleeping mostly through the night.

For the other, I had to get creative (beyond simply enduring the 2-3 hour screaming fit — which — I did — because there wasn’t any convincing or soothing that little thing to sleep. She was pissed and scared and sad and she wanted the world to know. I’m not sure about the world, but feel confident our neighbors got the point).

And I remembered a friend of mine talking about a sleep clock she had purchased for her son. A way to keep him in his own bed until an appropriate time to be getting up (i.e. waking her up).

Her son is a lot older than my kiddo but I figured anything was worth a try.

So I ordered a sleep clock.

It took a while for things to catch on: blue means sleep, yellow means wake up. It didn’t do anything to squelch the screaming fits on the front end of the night (or naps). But eventually it helped a great deal with understanding what time of day (or night) it was for a little one unable to tell (or really understand) time.

No more arguing the facts – if the clock is blue, it’s still sleepy time.

We had some fits for a few weeks but eventually she got the gist: she wasn’t getting out of bed until the clock face changed to yellow.

And now?

Both kiddos have sleep clocks.

It doesn’t help get them to sleep. They both continue to boycott the idea.

BUT, it keeps them in bed. Both on the front and back ends of the day.

And this has been monumentally helpful in the morning when I’m here alone attempting to get myself and 3 littles, age 3 and under, ready and out the door.

When they’re all awake at the same time I run the risk of losing all control with kids getting into things they shouldn’t, fighting with one another, etc.

I got a nice taste of this “losing all control” the very first morning after the baby was born and I was flying solo getting the crew ready and out the door. It took nearly 3 hours, start to finish, before I was back home post drop off at the babysitter and so exhausted (because, honestly, my body wasn’t physically ready for that yet) I spent the rest of the day on the couch crying thousands of tears and wondering if I might just die.

So their wake (i.e. get out of bed) times are staggered allowing me to get and stay in a rhythm. I have time to get one up, dressed, teeth brushed and hair combed before situating him in the family room with some toys and a “show”. Then just enough time to unload the dishwasher or start some laundry before the other, who can do a few things a little more independently while I get the baby ready, is up and at ’em.

Before I know it, we are out the door in what might even be described as a semi-organized fashion

When I first embarked upon this idea I was skeptical. Mostly because of their ages, and honestly, their temperaments too.

But staying consistent and a LOT of repetition has paid its dues BIG TIME and made opportunities for absolute craziness in the morning much more manageable.

If you have little ones, I highly recommend considering a sleep clock. Here’s the one we have: My Sleep Clock

It’s simple to operate, setting wake times for week days and weekend days as well as nap duration. We don’t currently use the nap function or the music/white noise functions but the opportunity is there.

The clock is battery operated and doesn’t come with a cord to plug-in but there’s the option for that as well: Sleep Clock Power Adapter

I tend to think the clocks eat up batteries a little more quickly than I would prefer, but there’s an energy saver function that I’ve found helps a LOT in this regard.

Is sleep a struggle in your house? How about the morning routine? Might your family benefit from the addition of sleep clocks?



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One Comment

  • Kristin

    This. I second everything you have said about how valuable these clocks can be. This has been the lifeline to keeping us on track with getting adequate sleep with our 3 year old. He’s had his sleep clock from the time we moved him from his crib to his “big boy bed” 1 ½ years ago. His shows a bunny and a moon for sleep time and a sun for awake time. There’s a feature that “counts down” for the sun as it goes down so he knows when bedtime is getting close. It’s been a lifesaver when we travel. When the “moon comes out”, he immediately drops what he’s doing because he knows he needs to get to bed. It’s been great for keeping him on somewhat of a schedule this summer too when it’s so easy to get sucked into later bedtimes with the longer daylight hours and nice weather. Helping him get to bed timely is nice, but the wake feature is the main reason we needed this clock though. He’s always been an early riser. Waking around 5 or 5:30 am ready to play, we wanted to extend this. We gradually have progressed the way time to 6:30 now. He’s still always up before it, but he knows that he must stay in his room until the “sun comes up”!

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