Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tot Clock = More Sleep

I wanted to write a review of a product that I love. As I’ve mentioned before, my children are early risers. Michael rarely sleeps past 6:30 in the morning and Ava has never learned to go back to sleep after the sun rises. Right now, after the time change that’s about 6:15, but by the middle of the summer it tends to be in the early 5:00 hour.

Meet the Tot Clock

I decided to try a Tot Clock with Michael. This product is wonderful. Fundamentally it has a clock face that changes colors. It’s standard color is yellow. That’s the “awake color”. You then set a bedtime and a wake-up time. For us, bedtime is 7:40 pm and wake-up time is 7:00 am. At bedtime the clock face turns blue and it stays blue until the time you’ve set as the wake-up time. Then it turns yellow again. Michael knows that he can’t leave his room or call for us until the light turns yellow. It has a nap timer too. So I’ve set his nap timer for an hour and a half. I push a button to turn it on (and turn the light blue) when I leave his room. If he wakes up before the hour and a half he knows he has to wait until the light turns yellow before nap time is over. It has worked beautifully. I love this clock. Michael never calls for us before 7am any more.

There was a flaw in my plan to get more sleep though. It didn’t really do me any good to keep Michael in his room until 7am when Ava was still waking up at 6:15. So I decided to try a Tot Clock for her too. She’s a little young for it, but she loved Michael’s clock and seemed to get the concept. But when I went to order the second Tot Clock for Ava they were out of stock and wouldn’t be getting more in until May.

I didn’t want to wait that long so I tried a similar product I found on Amazon. I hated it. It was difficult to set and didn’t have nearly as many features. Most importantly, it didn’t have a nap feature. Ava was completely confused by the fact that her light didn’t turn green (this clock’s default color was green) letting her know nap time was over. Then I got an email that Tot Clock had some used clocks in stock. I ordered one immediately. Ava was delighted to have one just like her brother’s clock and I shipped the other one back to Amazon. Actually, there is one difference between Ava's clock and Michael's clock. Michael's clock has the standard face plate: the moon and stars. We ordered one with butterflies and flowers for Ava because I knew she would like it and it would make this clock "hers". The company has a ton of optional face plates to choose from.

So now we have two Tot Clocks. They’re working perfectly. We now set our alarm for 6:50 so that we can wake up and pull on clothes before the kids start calling, “Mama, Dada, my clock is yellow!” at 7am. Sure, 45 minutes of extra sleep doesn't sound like all that much, but remember that before now Ava rose with the sun. In the middle of the summer I'm hoping this clock will be getting me almost two hours of extra sleep every day. Besides, the predictability is nice.

I also think it is helping Ava learn to go back to sleep after surfacing. I’ll hear her wake up and fuss a little, but then she’ll fall back asleep for a while. She rarely did that before the clock.

It has a ton of features we’re not using. It will tell a bedtime story, play music and white noise, and function as an alarm clock (who on earth would actually want to wake their toddler up in the morning on purpose?). It has a built in time-out timer (turns red) and activity timer (turns green). If any of this sounds interesting to you check it out. I highly recommend it.

(One drawback: the blue night-time setting is very bright in a small room even on its dimmest setting. You can turn the night-time light off all together, but Ava protested that option. We've ended up turning the clock away from her bed at night and partially covering it with a baby blanket to reduce the extra light in her room.)

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