3. OK to Wake clock
Honestly, I can’t remember the first time Buzz wandered out of his room at night. I remember one night early on Jason and I were surprised when we turned off the TV and walked toward our bedroom at 11-something and found Buzz sitting on the toilet in the hall bathroom. He was mostly potty trained to it makes perfect sense but we were surprised that we hadn’t heard him or that he hadn’t called for help when he was done…he just sat there until we noticed him. We didn’t enact any consequences for leaving his room at first, only for leaving the house or for helping himself to things in the kitchen without checking with us first (this was to ensure he didn’t attempt the toaster or something else dangerous without supervision). But, that one time he did let himself out of the house we had several very serious discussions about why it’s not OK. A few times in the days to follow he let, or attempted to let, himself out of the house in the evening when we were home. That resulted in another serious conversation as well as 2 minutes in time out. Followed by another talk, because we were freaked out about what could have happened. That lesson was learned pretty quickly.
I started waking up at the slightest sound every night, afraid that Buzz was out of his room and could get hurt. (Reminder: he was 2.5.) Obviously we couldn’t lock him into his room. He was much too tall (the height of a 4 year old) for a crib or a baby gate to be a consideration. I was looking for an inexpensive solution so this is what I came up with: the jingle bell shaker from Ali’s musical instrument set hanging on the door handle with a pipe cleaner. I used a wreath hanger to keep the bells out of reach during regular hours and after he was in bed at night I’d quietly slip the bells on to the handle. He was not able to open the door lever in the morning without the bells falling to the floor. I think this was a set back to his night time potty training but we all started sleeping better.
OK to Wake Clock
The bells allowed me to hear and wake up when Buzz exited his room but it didn’t help me recover my morning time. (See my previous post on boundaries.) The time that the bells hit the floor was still varied a lot, and often related to when my alarm clock went off in the morning. His room was right next to ours and he seemed to hear me open my eyes in the morning. I needed a way for him to know when it was OK to come out of his room. I remembered a friend writing about an alarm clock that lights up at the time it’s OK for the child to come out of his room so I asked for advice. Susan used this stop light design with her boys and it worked great. She also suggested the OK to Wake! clock but said that she had better success with the stop light since young kids seem to understand the red means stop, green means go concept better. I ignored her advice and got the more visual attractive clock. I’m a designer…I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. After reading a gazillion reviews. I decided to go one better than the OK to Wake! and I got the Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock. It has the same features plus some others. I will say – the clock face glows a lot even when the light is technically off so the change to on is subtle. If the child’s bedroom is not dark enough it could easily be unnoticeable. I’m not sure if Buzz ever totally grasped the concept of this clock but it gave me something concrete to show him when I took him back to his room and said “You need to stay in your room until 8:00 when the light comes on.”
This is part 2 of a 2 part prelude to my post about transitioning Ali to her big girl bed that’s coming later this week.