When we moved our oldest son into a toddler bed after his baby sister arrived, it went smoothly at first. Upon waking, he would wait in his bed for us to come get him, just as he’d done in his crib. Wow! What a good kid! This is pretty easy (or so we thought).
That order and sense of calm was short-lived. As soon as he discovered he now had freedom to roam, he did not hesitate to exercise this freedom. He was getting up all hours of the night, coming into our room, insisting we go down to the kitchen to get him some milk, go watch TV, play in the playroom, go potty…basically, anything but sleep. Should we refuse such “requests,” tantrums ensued, baby awakened. All hell broke loose.
At first we attributed these night wakings to his age. It must be. All toddlers do this, right?
This continued for a year and a half. You read that correctly. A YEAR and A HALF! We were zombies as we suffered through this routine, night after night.
We talked to friends who had been through it, family had advice, too. Even consulted Super Nanny (by “consulted,” I mean we parked on the couch and watched marathons, jaws dropped).
We tried ignoring the wake-ups and putting him back in bed, time and again. No dice.
We tried explaining it was time to go back to bed and then physically putting him there. No dice.
We tried not talking to him at all (which would be giving him the attention he wanted) and putting him back to bed. No dice.
We tried yelling. No dice.
We tried threatening to take this or that away if he didn’t go back to/stay in bed. No dice.
We tried throwing him over our shoulder and carrying him back to bed, kicking and screaming. No dice.
We tried to run away from home. No dice.
Finally, FINALLY, after a last-ditch effort reaching out to friends on Facebook for help, one of my gal pals mentioned a sleep timer. So, I took to the internet, did a little research and came up with the Stoplight Golight Timer. I decided to try this particular sleep timer over others because our guy is into all-things-vehicles and the stoplight concept is one I knew he would get.
AHHHHHHH (choir of angels voices).
It works. It really works. It’s a simple design; set the timer, red light illuminated means “stay in bed,” green light means it’s “time to get up.” (Yellow doesn’t light up). He got the concept right away, stays in bed (or at least, in his room) until he sees the green light. If we forget to set the timer and he doesn’t see a red light, he calls us back into his room to request we set his stoplight. When we’re driving in the car, even, and approach a stoplight at an intersection, he proudly announces from the back seat, “Red light, stop. Stay in bed. Green light, go. Time to get up!” Love it.
All is right in the world again. We are finally done with the toddler wake-ups at all hours of the night…just in time for baby #3’s arrival and now we are up all night with a newborn. (Sigh).