Thursday, July 31, 2008

?M: In Which She Showers Adoration on the Alarm Clock

Alarmed. My kids are. A lot of you asked me about this, so today, I deliver the goods...or, the facts... This is what we do. Maybe you already do it. Maybe you don't need to. Maybe you want to, but don't know where to start. This is how we alarmed the Koch kids. This is how I savor the morning and feel ready, prepared and excited for when they burst out of that bedroom door.
My kids get up at 8:15 AM every single day. They take their naps and quiet times from 2-4 PM, every single day. I have training, an easy to follow schedule, and their precious alarm clock to thank for this. This is a clock in my bathroom. They are all sleeping now so I couldn't get to the real one. You follow me. It's a clock.

Grace, my oldest who is now 5*, was 2. She had, until that point, gotten up at 8 every morning since she was 6 months old- on her own. Great. She decided to get up at about 6:30 every morning one week, out of the blue. This perfectly coincided with the week she learned to open her own door.
* Yes, we had four kids in just over four years. Grace had been four for three months when Hudson, our #4 was born. I hear that I "look busy" a lot.

I freaked out! What was I going to do?! Were my leisurely mornings gone forever? And Patie was about 6 months old by then and shared a room with Grace and she needed her sleep dearly, so this just wasn't working out. Really. not. working. out.

After a few days of this, I realized the phase may not pass on it's own, and Grace was really crabby during the day- she needed to sleep more too. This wasn't best for her, or anyone.

I decided to try some manipulation. Er, ah, bribing? Er, ah, new training approaches... She knew Jim and I had an alarm clock. We talked about how big people use an alarm clock to let them know what time they are supposed to get up. She was followin' me. I asked if she wanted her own alarm clock, since she was big now. Of course she wanted one.

We went to Wal Mart for a special trip and she got to pick out her own. This was very exciting. She got a pink one that phases night light colors in and out on it's own. Too cool. She was beyond thrilled. They still sell them.

We set it up and set the rules. She needed to stay in her room, preferably sleeping, but, absolutely quiet until the alarm let her know it was time to get up. Just like Mommy and Daddy do. Cool.

The first night we used it, it was a big hit. Huge. So adult, so cool. Never a thought to test us. She was big. After several nights of this, she began sleeping to her normal time again and the alarm began waking her up. Score. I always knew exactly when they'd be up. Perfect.

We began using it for naps, too, when she got older. We still abide by the same routine, and every single kid has followed suit. It's the order of our house, the pace of our days, and as each new Koch makes their entrance to the house, they seem to just know, this is our pattern, this is our pace, and each one's body clock has fallen in line by the age of 6 months. Yes, they've tested us, each one, and Hudson will be ne exception, I'm sure, one day. Lily tested us quite a bit on this last month, the spell is coming to a close, and boy, she set a record for 'pline. But, that's life when you're 2, right?


1. Make it a fun thing and involve the kids.

2. Set the wake time for a time that works best for everyone- their own sleeping needs and the family's needs as a whole. In no time, if you stick with it, everyone's patterns will adjust. If you think you want to push their wake times later from where they are right now, do it in small increments of 15 minutes or so over the course of a few weeks and they'll ease into it. If it's best for everyone for an hour or so of more quiet and hopefully sleep for them and "Mom" time for you, it will not hurt them to be trained to stay in bed longer. In fact, it will benefit the whole darn household. Maybe they'll even start rising up and calling you blessed...

3. Be firm and consistent. Let them know the expectations and consequences ahead of time. Keep the rules simple and clear and stick to them like, hardcore. They'll thank you for it someday.

4. If they really need you, or if they're potty trained and need to, you know, they can of course come out and find you or, you know, do their thing. Kids, even young ones, are smart, and they know the difference and they will try to eventually test you. If they come out for another reason than need before it beeps, there is an immediate consequence, or discipline, whatever you choose. And then they go back to bed until it beeps, no funky business. If you think they need an extra boost, let them know for every morning they wake in jive with the new order of things, they get a treat, like a gummi bear, an extra strawberry, or a little whipped cream on their pancake, or whatever you choose. Something small, but motivating. You might be surprised, how much they will respect the clock.

Cost of a funky alarm clock: No more than $10.

Always knowing when the day will really begin with your kids: Priceless.


Ashlie said...

GREAT idea!! We haven't had this problem yet, but I will definitely keep this in mind if we ever do. I love how you talked about being firm and consistent. It is hard to do sometimes, but so worth it in the long run!

Kimberly said...

I love you, Megan Koch! If you ever decide to start a "Super Nanny" like show, I would be happy to be your first host home. I should warn Jim that we might not let you go - ever.

Okay, so follow up question: What time do your kids go to bed, even little Hudson?

Speaking of firm, right now our big fight is going to bed. Oh. my. goodness. We might have to retire the spankin' spoon and get a new one, this one is getting his share of work.

Megan said...

to follow up for kim, everyone goes to bed at 8, but in the summer, sometimes if we're out later, they just go to bed later at 9 or so, but if we're at home and inside, it's 8. right now they're outside a lot at night, so usually the routine doesn't start until 8, then they're in bed by 8:30 or so most nights.
all our "babies" were sleeping solidly through the night from 8 to 8 by 6 months, and hudson took a little longer, with his breathing problems and our move, but he was going 8 to 8 by 8 months. which is nice. very nice.


Katie said...

See, it's number 1 I forgot to do. I am all like "see the clock? show me 7 o'clock. You cannot come out of your room until it says SEVEN O- CLOCK, got it??"

I better get better about involving them before high school or we might have some serious rebelling going on, haha!

Lisa said...

We have the clock in Goosey's room. We don't set the alarm, but Goosey knows that she can't get up before 7 in the morning and I always tell her what time she can get up from "rest" time in the afternoon.

Here's a question - How do you get your babies to sleep that long? Do you nurse? My babies would have never slept 12 hours at night at 6 months - Wowzers - that's AWESOME!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you thought of the alarm clock. I don't think I would have ever thought of using in that fashion. I love that it works so well--and it makes the girls wake up in better moods.

I love you!!

anne said...

I remember you talking a bit about this in Minn.
I love it. Right now Evan sleeps until 8 and Max until later...I do realize this could all change and then I too will freak.
I'm keeping this post tabbed so I can come back to it when that time comes...which I have a feeling may be around the time this third child arrives :)
Great post!

Mandy said...

Totally with you on this one! We don't use an alarm clock, but I have been thinking about adding that in to the mix by the start of school...just for the "fun" of it. However, I have always used Babywise. My kids (all 3) were sleeping 8 hours a night by 9 weeks of age and 12 hours a night by 4 to 5 months of age. Our kids go to bed at 7pm and get up at 7am. When I just had Abby & Emmy they would go to bed at 7:30 and get up at 8:30am. Nice...reall nice! Now because of school Abby has to get up at 7am and it's easier to just have everyone get up together. So that's our family in the trench!

d.a.r. said...

Holy cow this is an amazing idea. Mental note to self...

Anonymous said...

Listen, I need your help since you have twice as much experience as me. My baby (8months) has started waking up at 4 AM. Yes, 4am. Wide awake. Ready to go. What in the world can I do??? She's also waking Noah up (my 3 yo) who normally sleeps til 7. I'm going crazy in the meantime. Help me!!

Ris said...

That's a great idea! Dax sleeps in, thanfully. I am trying to work on Lexi to sleep in a little more. Maybe I'll take Dax to pick out an alarm clock if he starts waking up early! You have excellent mother ideas. I come up with some helpful stuff for our family, but I love hearing your ideas- I would not think of them and they are always really cool!

amanda said...

love it.

simply another brilliant idea with love from megan.

oh how i adore you!!

thanks friend :)

Muthering Heights said...

That's a really good idea, I love it!

Anne Elizabeth said...

I'm so glad you did this post today! I have been thinking about getting an alarm for Pink, but was wondering if it would actually work. I didn't want to spend the money on something that wouldn't work. I am definitely going to try it now!

Heidi said...

My hero!

Mandy said...

I'm responding to the comment you left for me on "I'm Outta Here". LOL!!! I like your idea! Maybe I will come up with a real life I am really out of here place for my purse! Cute!

Question for you...what ages are your kids right now and how far apart are they? And are you going to homeschool or send to school?

Kiki said...

I talked to my husband about this and we are going to implement this! Also, we leave the bathroom light on and the door cracked open and usually turn it off when we go to bed, last night, Sage, 4, was still singing to himself at 10:45pm and was up at 7am! He had taken a late nap that day, but seriously. We are going to start turning off after 30 minutes.

Thanks for the great idea, I can't wait to see how it works for our family!

kelly said...

I am going to try this. You're so smart!

Unknown said...

I am leaning forward with my mouth open reading this post. I am totally going to try this w/ my middle child. Thank you!

Sarah in the Middle said...

HI Megan - I have been stalking your blog for about a week now - I love it! (I went to highschool with American Mum & Mrs. Hub, so I found you from them).
This post was perfectly timed. I am a devoted Babywiser, and have a 3 yr. old who has slept 8-8 with a 2 hr. nap since before she was 1yr. Now, all of the sudden, it went screwy. I also have a 3 month old, and I know that her arrival has something to do with the sudden switch. I like the alarm idea and have already started talking with Juliana about it. Can't wait to see how it goes!

Beth Cotell said...

My kids are great sleepers so I was planning on using the alarm clock in a different way when school starts.

I am going to use it (hopefully) to get my son up earlier so he can get ready for school. I want to get him in the routine of turning off the alarm, making his bed and putting his clothes on without me having to do any of the prodding.

I figured if I had to go in and wake him up myself to do all these things right out of bed, the whining and the moaning would start. I'm hoping that by using the alarm clock, he will feel like a grown up and will hop up and get ready on his own!

I just found your blog through Life with Our Little Ladies and love it! Going to add you to my Bloglines!

Sarah in the Middle said...

Hi Megan - we bought an alarm at IKEA Saturday, and Juli has been loving it. It is really helping for naptimes!
My only problem now is that it isn't a digital clock, which means at 8pm bedtime when I set it for 8am, it goes off. And it's cheap, so it keeps wanting to go off until like 8:20. So, I have to go in and set her alarm after she's asleep. Oh well - we may have to spring for an alarm that actually has am AND pm. :)