Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Blue Star Off?

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile...we've been recovering from a "lovely" stomach bug over here...I think the end is in sight, though!

One of the struggles we faced last year was since our kids go to bed early (in bed by 7pm!) they also get up early (typically around 6:30am!) and sometimes a little bit earlier! There was a time when my kids were getting up at 5:30 and I don't know about you, but that's just too early for me! So how do you teach your toddler who can't read or tell time yet when it's time to get out of bed? Here are several options I've come across along with our homemade solution - which actually works!!!

* Get a analog clock -- one with hands -- and paint on it (or tape it or mark it in some way) that shows when the big hand hits the painted part, then it's time to get up in the morning. The thing I didn't like about this option was what happens if your kid wakes up and the room is still dark and they can't even see the numbers on the clock...

* Tell your kids they can't get up until the sun is up. What I didn't like about this option is the sun comes up at different times during the year and it just seems difficult to be consistent with getting up in the morning if you are relying on the sun. Also, I use darkening curtains in my kids rooms to help with making their room dark for nap times and for summer nights when they go to bed when the sun is still up. This would make it difficult for them to know if the sun is up if they are never able really able to see if the sun is up because of their darkening curtains.

* You can train your children not to come out of their beds until you come and get them. The thing I have with this option is how are you to know your children are up waiting for you to come get them...typically they are to call for you first. I don't want my kids calling for me throughout the night letting me know they are ready to get up...

* You can purchase this somewhat expensive nightlight called the Good Nite Lite ( The thing I didn't like about this timer was it's expensive and that it has to be plugged into a wall outlet, like a night light. Well, my son sleeps on a bunk bed so he can't see any of his wall outlets. And my daughter, well we've intentional placed bookshelves or storage units in front of most of her outlets to keep curious fingers away from the plugs.

* So after all of this our solution was this - we purchased an IKEA Star Night Light that actually hangs on your wall (perfect for my bunk bed son!) It cost $9.99 plus the cost of a night light light bulb, which I think was around $2 for a pack of 2 -- we found blue night light bulbs at Target. Then I purchased a light timer, you know the ones you typically use around Christmas time (you can get them any time of the year though) that you program to turn on your lights at a certain time and off at a certain time. I think this costs us around $10. So I programed their star lights to come on at 6:45pm signaling it is time to get into bed and I programed them to go off at 6:20am letting them know that they can get out of bed.

It's been great. The kids have a great visual clue on when it's time to get up in the morning...if "blue stars off" (as my kids would say) then it's okay to get out of bed. If not, they wait their until it is!

So how do you train your kids to stay in bed until 6:20 (or whatever time you are wanting them to stay in bed)? First, be realistic about your expectations. Make sure you aren't making them stay in bed longer than they really need to be in bed for. In other words if your kids are going to bed at 7pm don't expect them to stay in their bed until 9am! Also, work on small increments of time. Whatever time your kid is getting up, set the timer to turn the light off for 5 minutes past the time they typically get up and keep doing that over time until your kid is staying in their bed until the time you are wanting them to.

How do you keep your kids from getting up too early?

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