With the clocks going forward this spring getting young children to adjust to the change can be somewhat tricky and a lot of parents struggle with getting their children to adjust. Even I struggle to adjust myself! Something that is also really common with toddlers and preschoolers is night waking and early risers. 5.30am isn't the time we want to be waking up despite what our children think!
A lot of my friends tell me their children wake up really early in the morning, but what Little N does is wake up randomly in the middle of the night. It's not something that has bothered me too much, but now he is 3 years old it would be great if I could get him to go back to sleep until morning without me having to resettle him, especially as I also get up to settle J in the night too. We've been putting the Gro-clock to the test over the past few weeks to see if this could help gently encourage him to sleep a little longer.
The Gro-clock isn't a quick fix, but something that can gently help over time. The clock has a digital display which shows the time, and in the morning it has a yellow sunshine face whilst at bedtime is has a blue starry face with stars that count down until morning. Parents can set what time the sunshine face will appear and the idea is that children learn that when they see the sun they can get up, rather than just assume it's "morning" because it's light outside!
If you have an early riser the best way to use the Gro-clock is by adjusting it in increments to get them used to sleeping a little longer. For example, if they regularly wake at 5.30am then try setting the sun to appear at 5.30am to begin with and adjust it by 10-15 minutes, rather than setting it at 7am straight away as that's quite a big change for them to get used to.
The issue I have with Little N is that he wakes in the middle of the night, at least once but often twice. He needs resettling or he gets into my bed, where he then sleeps soundly until about 7am. I do love the cuddles, but with J (18 months) doing it too it can be really tiring and when they're both in my bed there isn't enough room for me! So my hope was that the Gro-clock would gently teach him that it is still bedtime and encourage him to go back to sleep instead of getting up.
He was very excited to have his own clock and was very proud of it. We set it all up and I showed him the two different faces, explaining that at nighttime the blue stars would count down until morning and when the sunshine appeared it meant it was time to get up. We made it part of our bedtime routine: after storytime Little N presses the button and we wave goodnight to the sun and hello to the stars. As he does this I remind him that if he wakes up and sees the blue stars, it's still bedtime, but if he sees the sun then he can get up.
Days 1-4: There was no change in how often Little N woke up, but that's okay. Instead of just putting him back to bed, each time I pointed to the Gro-clock and gently reminded him that if he sees the blue stars when he wakes then it is still bedtime and that the sun will appear when it is morning.
Day 5: No wake up! Little N woke up at just after 7am. I asked him what was on his clock and he said "yellow sun Mummy, it morning!" I can count on one hand the number of times that he has slept a whole night so this was something short of a miracle.
Day 6-7: Little N woke up once on both nights, but after settling back to bed with a little reminder about his clock he then slept until 7am.
Day 8: He woke up twice and then slept in my bed as we gave up trying. He was poorly though.
Day 9 onwards: He has been waking once each night, but once settled back to bed he is staying there until 7am. I have been reminding him of the clock and it is definitely helping because he's not getting up again after the first wake up.
As well as making the Gro-clock part of the bedtime routine, we've also made it part of our morning routine, too. All I do is ask Little N whether there is a sun or stars on his clock, and when he says that there is a sun I ask him what the sun means, to which he replies "morning!" It only takes a few seconds, but I think it helps reinforce that we get up when we see the sun on the clock. Things aren't perfect, of course, as it is still early days. Little N is still waking up once a night most nights but he is settling back to sleep much easier and is happy to then stay in his bed until morning. It has only been a few weeks of using the Gro-clock and I think things will continue to improve with consistency from us.
Do you have an early riser or a night waker? What are your tips?
*I was kindly sent a Gro-clock to see if it would help.