The Elephant in the Room

Thursday May 19, 2011

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My youngest is my early riser.   Sometimes cra-aazy early (like pre 6am), more usually, he manages to bounce out of bed and into our room just as I finally gotten myself up, coffeed up and am ready to start a quiet time.     I have been searching for a while for a good “time to wake” type clock that would help him understand he needed to stay in bed until a certain time.

So, like any good modern mommy, I hit Google and Amazon to find the perfect clock, which must surely exist.

One option that came up is the Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock.

American Innovative Teach Me Time! Talking Alarm Clock and Nightlight $35.55 @Amazon

I actually bought this several years ago when I was hopeful it would help my older (then younger) kids to learn how to tell digital/analog time.   However, it was difficult to program, and broke after a few months.   With a ~$40 price tag, I was not pleased.

I settled on another promising option — the Kid Sleep Classic Clock.
Kid’Sleep Classic, Blue ~$38 @Amazon

This clock had so much promise — it would light up the waking bunny when it was time to wake, and show the sleeping bunny when it was time to sleep.  It also had a programmable setting for naptime — the other area I really needed help with.    My little guy LOVED this clock and totally caught on to the concept.   “MY BUNNY’S WAKING UP” he would shout when it lit.

Unfortunately, this clock too, had fatal flaws.   The main problem is that it is too easy/too hard to set the clock/timing settings.   Not impossible, but the process to set it was annoying, and the ability for your child to mess with the settings is way too easy.   The worst part is there is no battery back-up option.  It relies on a plug (a feature I wanted), but the plug easily disconnects from the unit, thus wiping all the settings.

The other problem/feature is that there is an alarm option — something I didn’t want or need, but my son would mess with the dial and turn it on accidentally, then cry hysterically when the alarm woke him up.   The alarm sound  was a rooster crowing and it totally freaked him out.    I was willing to stick it out and hope that we could resolve our issues with training, but this clock too stopped working after a few months, so I gladly returned it.

My son clearly liked the idea of an animal waking up with with him, so what to do?   After more research and input from my oh so knowledgeable mom’s group listserv, I got the idea to use an appliance timer on a regular lamp to create our own “time to wake” clock/light.

I searched on Amazon again, this time for a animal shaped lamp.    I found this darling elephant lamp:
Ernie the Elephant Night-Time PalsTM Lamp

I plugged it into an appliance timer and use the timer to control when the lamp could turn on or off.   Amazon sells a fancy digital timer, but I already had a super simple one on hand (similar to this).

I set the timer to control when the lamp should be on (non-sleeping times), and when it should be off. Then you plug the lamp in and turn the lamp on via it’s switch.   The lamp remains on and cuts off automatically during the sleeping hours.

This solution is not 100% perfect — my little guy is aware of the timer box and has messed with the settings before, but it is much better than what we had in the past and is working well for us now.

He totally gets that he has to wait for his “elephant to wake up”, which is helping me salvage what had been a fleeting nap/quiet time.

If an elephant is not your thing, any old lamp will work.   I thought the paper maiche style lamps were cute and you can find similar ones on Amazon and probably lots of other places.  Some of the other animal lamps I considered were a monkey, a cow, a teddy bear, a puppy, and a pig.

If you do go this route, make sure your lamp does not have a rechargeable battery component.   I found a cute (cheap) nightlight I liked at Tar-jay, but it had a rechargeable battery built in, and wouldn’t turn off when the timer cut the power.

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One Response to The Elephant in the Room

  1. 1
    Amy says:

    We have a sun/moon nightlight that I am ready to try with my Baby Girl (who is almost 2 1/2). It says for ages 3+, but 5:30 is too early. We are moving next month and I plan to try it in her new room. I hope it works!

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