Cordy has always been an early riser. There have been good times when she would sleep until 6:30 am, and not-so-good times when she would be up for the day at 4:30 am. We don't like her to be out of her room when we're not awake (safety issues, obviously), and we really don't want her waking us up at times when no sane human should be awake.
Winter is especially hard, because we can't use the old "when the sun comes up you can come out of your room" explanation. We recently tried buying her a digital clock, and teaching her to stay in bed until the clock says "6" is a great idea until she comes into your room at 4:36 am with a chipper smile on her face as she exclaims, "Mommy, there's a six on my clock!" Beyond that, teaching a five year old - or at least our five year old with autism - the intricacies of 6:00 versus 6:30 is also difficult.
But we've found a solution that works now. I was invited to try out the Good Nite Lite, a night light that also functions to teach children when it's nighttime and morning. It has a small clock in it that you can program to set a bedtime and set a time when it's OK to get out of bed.
Here's how it works: plug the Good Nite Lite into the wall, and when the internal clock reaches the time you set for bedtime, the nightlight turns on to reveal a glowing blue moon:
While bright at first, the moon dims after the first hour. The moon stays on all night, lending a soft blue glow to the room that isn't too bright to disturb. When it's time to get up in the morning - according to the time you set - the moon changes to a yellow-orange glowing sun:
The sun stays on for only two hours before it shuts off for the day to conserve energy. The beauty of this system is that you can change the times whenever you need, so if you are trying to retrain an early riser to stay in bed longer, you can reset the time in slow increments over days or weeks.
Does it work? I'm amazed and thrilled to say that it does! Cordy understands the sun and moon concept far better than telling time on a digital clock. She loves to see the moon on at night, and really does stay in her room until it switches to a sun.
A quick example: Aaron set it to switch to the sun at 6:15 am each day. He accidentally reset it to 6:45 am one night, and the next morning Cordy didn't come out of her room until 6:45. Her sister was awake and out of her room before Cordy, encouraging Cordy to join her in the hallway, and Cordy refused to come out of her room until she saw the sun on her night light. We are stunned at how easy this has been - never before has she stayed in her room so easily.
Are there any negatives? Well, programming the clock is a little complicated, but the instruction guide does provide fairly clear directions. Just remember to be quick, because if you wait 10 seconds, the time returns to the previously set time.
At this point I'm declaring the Good Nite Lite a brilliant product that I wish I knew about two years ago. I'd gladly sign a petition to make this a required item for new parents. (I'm already considering a second one for Mira - she's starting to be an early riser now, too.)
I don't think Cordy will be giving up her Good Nite Lite for a long time. And I think Aaron and I will be getting more sleep now thanks to this wonderful night light.
Full Disclosure: I was given one Good Nite Lite for review. No positive review was guaranteed or expected. All opinions are my own, and no further compensation was provided.