A big shout out to Al Roker

Last week during one of my not so frequent trips to the gym (positive thought: I DID make it to the gym!), I caught the tail end of the Today Show. Al Roker was doing a sleep segment with some expert, I can’t remember which one (Jodi Mindell maybe?) that was aimed specifically at the older child. Apparently, Al has a toddler who sleeps almost as poorly as my two, and all of his questions mirrored what mine would have been had I pursued that career in broadcast journalism instead of ditching out on the first day of freshman year when the director of the program announced that 75% of the people sitting the the room would never ever see the inside of a television studio.

We have already implemented two of the suggestions, the “Get Out of Bed Free Card” and the “Good Morning Light.” The “Get Out of Bed Free Card” is a brilliant, brilliant idea (so far) for the “pop out of bed 25 times in 15 minutes” variety of child, which C has turned into. Before bed we make sure that he has peed, has water, has all necessary stuffed animals, and then any additional request requires the surrendering of the “Get Out of Bed Free” card, and then there are no more nighttime visitations unless he needs to pee, poop or has “an honest to goodness” nightmare. The first night I had to impose a few extra rules, like a second book does NOT get read at 11pm, even if the magic card is presented, but other than that we have not seen C more than once after he has been tucked in for the night. The card has worked less brilliantly with A, who is still a little young to work through the process yet. She surrenders the card, then wants it back so she can surrender it again.

The second brilliant suggestion was the “Good Morning Light,” to solve the issue of the early morning riser. Apparently, in the Roker household there is a child who wakes up at 4:30am, which made me feel so much better about our 5:30 wakeup. The “Good Morning Light” is a night light selected by the child and plugged into a lamp timer. The timer is set to turn the night light on at a reasonable hour, and the child is instructed that if the light isn’t on when they wake up, they should try to roll over and go back to sleep. If the wake up hour is, say, 5:30 and you would really like the child to learn to wake up at 7, you are supposed to gradually adjust the time that the light goes on by 15 minutes ever few nights.

I have to say, I ignored that piece of advice and went straight for the 7am setting. And you know what time we were up this morning? 7:20. A was up a few times before then and heard muttering “Uh oh, no light. Nighty night A,” but she did not set foot in our room until the light was on. I’m not going to guarantee that this will be a long term solution for us, as it seems nothing ever is with her, but I am more hopeful than I have been with other techniques.

The other piece of advice that I wish I had heard two years ago when we forced A gave up her nap way too early because it made it too hard for her to go to sleep in the evening, was to still let the child nap in the afternoon and then at night allow her to lie in bed for half an hour or 45 minutes with the lights on looking at books. If she gets out of bed, the light goes off until the next night. I think it might have saved us hours of agony.

So anyway, there you have it. Wish us luck. And send good sleeping vibes in the direction of the Roker household as well. Because no one should be waking up at 4:30 in the morning with a toddler. Even if they have to be at work at 6am.

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