From Expletive to Superlative

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My life changed on July 29, 2010.

Oh, YES IT DID.

No, I didn’t have a baby. I didn’t get married. I didn’t buy a new home.

It was the day the My Tot Clock arrived.

You may be familiar with my older child’s unrelenting propensity to delay going to bed. Especially if you’re my friend on Facebook. Often, my 8 p.m. status updates consisted of the following:

(July 25, 2010) Monkey (after tucking her into bed): “Mama, I have to go poopy.” Me: “Sorry, it’s too late. We already went to the bathroom.” Monkey: “Come ON mama.”

(July 19, 2010) I had to upload pics of my kids to remind myself how much I love them, since bedtime tonight was a total PITA.

(July 11, 2010) Me to Monkey: “Why are you crying?” (as she’s been crying before bed again for the past couple of nights for no reason). Monkey: “Because I’m tired.” Me: Well then why don’t you go to sleep?” Monkey (pausing to think): “I DON’T know!?” (throwing her arms up for emphasis and sighing)

(June 21, 2010) I give up.

(June 10, 2010) Me: Monkey, lay down. C: Are you happy? Me: I’ll be happy when you go to sleep. C: Are you happy right now? Me: Yes. C: Are you making cookies? Me: No, I’m not making cookies. C: Are you making scotcheroos? Me: (laughing hard). C: (laughing harder). Me: No! (?? wondering why she thinks this). C: Are you making scotcheroos (asking over and over again and then laughing b/c it made me laugh). Me: No! C: Yes you are!

(June 7, 2010) I am so sick of being the sleep police. So d#mn sick of it. Worst part about parenting.

And there were many nights where I was tempted to write this: GO TO SLEEP. GO TO SLEEP! GO TO SLEEP!!! WHY WON’T YOU BE QUIET AND GO TO F-ING SLEEP!????

Okay, let’s be honest. I did write that one or five times.

But have you noticed that I haven’t been b*tching about bedtime on facebook? ISN’T YOUR LIFE BETTER? You can thank My Tot Clock.

Basically, My Tot Clock changes colors to teach little kids when to sleep (blue light) and when it’s okay to be awake (yellow light). It also (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT DOES MORE??), play a bedtime story, lullabies, white noise and fun wake-up music. And, (YOU MEAN IT DOES EVEN MORE??) there’s a red light for timeouts and a green light for “encouragement” time, like picking up toys, etc.

I waited a month and a half before writing this post to be absolutely (see, already a superlative) sure that this product was the magical wonder product it was. Oh yes. I am going to UNLEASH some superlatives on you.

So let’s recap, shall we? BEFORE My Tot Clock, Monkey did all of these things:

  • Take all of her socks out of her drawer and put them in her bed (FOR WEEKS)
  • Take all of her clothes out of her drawers and throw them around the room
  • Take the drawers out of the chest itself (which resulted in us using child locks to close them)
  • Take all of the books out of her basket and throw them around the room (which resulted in us removing all the books from her room)
  • Throw all her stuffed animals over her gate, after which I refused to return them and she had a meltdown (which resulted in her never doing that again)
  • Rip all the diapers out of the diaper box in her closet and try to diaper her baby (which resulted in us  not leaving anything on her closet floor)
  • Open her shades (which resulted in us having a mental breakdown)
  • Turn her noise machine up really, really loud, over and over again, which over a baby monitor makes your head feel like it’s going to pop off (see mental breakdown)
  • Turn her light on
  • Take her diaper off
  • Take her clothes off (see “Just Plain Odd”)

Oh, and this was all after we got a new gate because she climbed over the original gate.

After she was potty trained she would use her words to get out of going to bed. A lot of “I need help,” “I need a hug again,” “POTTY, POTTY, POTTY, POTTY!”

Ad nauseum. Ugh. It makes me exhausted just looking at this. I don’t know if she’s just that stubborn, or just that smart.

Okay, so wait — let me just give you a rundown of all the positive reinforcement things we tried to encourage her to go to bed:

  • Having a rock solid, consistent bedtime routine, and the same bedtime every night.
  • Allowing for extra time in the routine so that we’re relaxed and happy. Giving ourselves an hour to go potty, do a bath, get pajamas on, teeth brushed, take vitamins, go potty again, read stories, say a prayer, tell a made-up story about a butterfly with her name.
  • Sticker chart.
  • Two “get out of bed free” tickets” — if she didn’t have any tickets left in the morning she didn’t get a sticker.
  • A bedtime routine chart with photos of her in the various stages of going to bed.
  • Practicing deep breathing to help calm down, and visual, relaxing imagery (the butterfly from the made-up story).

OH MY GOD, right!?? RIGHT!?

Seriously. Knowing that putting your kid to bed at 7:45 p.m. actually means that you can’t do anything else for at least 30 minutes because you’re running down to her room 55 times, is SO frustrating. And ridiculous. Let’s be clear. She was manipulating us, plain and simple.

I even emailed my sleep idol, Elizabeth Pantley on July 20 to see if she had any other ideas because I felt I had exhausted all of my resources from her and was feeling like this was more of a control issue than a sleep issue. OBVIOUSLY! And Elizabeth was lovely and emailed me back a couple of days later with a long list of suggestions from her No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers book, most of which I had tried. Her top suggestion was to start doing sleep logs again to see what her pattern of sleep was like. So I resigned myself to the sleep logs.

And then. THEN. I got an email from My Tot Clock saying that they FINALLY had some clocks in stock and that I could place my order.

My cousin introduced me to the My Tot Clock back in May when I was bemoaning the difficulties we were having getting Monkey to go to bed. She got it for her three-year-old because he was an early riser. I was skeptical though. We had opposite problems, plus her son has a completely different personality from Monkey — he’s laid back and easy going. And the price! This thing is $50! I asked her if it was really worth $50. Her exact response — “I would pay $50 annually if I had to. That’s how worth it it is for me.”

So I figured I would give it a shot. Except, EXCEPT. IT WASN’T AVAILABLE! Arrgh!

People. I had waited more than THREE MONTHS to order My Tot Clock because they just didn’t have any. They were out and waiting for a new shipment. I waited MORE THAN 90 BEDTIMES.

So you can imagine my extreme excitement when I not only was able to order the darn thing (they gave me a 20% discount for having to wait for it, which made the cost a tolerable $40), but when it was about to be delivered to my house.

Witness the email exchange with my cousin on the morning of July 29:

Me: MY TOT CLOCK HAS SHIPPED!!!! I never thought I would be so excited about something so silly!!! It also says that it was processed in Oak Creek yesterday and is in transit to the destination (via USPS). So if I don’t have it today, probably tomorrow!!

Cousin: You crack me up. I hope you love it!

(two hours later)

Me: OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG. IT’S HERE. MAILMAN’S IN MY DRIVEWAY. OMG.

Cousin: You CRACK me up!

I was like a six-year-old on Christmas morning with Santa Claus and his freaking reindeer in my freaking driveway RINGING MY FREAKING DOORBELL TO HAND DELIEVER THE MOST FREAKING UNBELIEVABLE, marvelous, SUPERBLY WONDERFUL, incredible, astonishing, AMAZING, mind-boggling, extraordinary, mind-blowing, MIRACLE GIFT EVER.

And then I started thinking. Why did I think this thing would miraculously change our bedtime routine? Then I realized my expectations were probably too high (I have a little problem with that). OH, BUT THEY WEREN’T.

No sh*t. I’m not even kidding you. Because this product has completely changed my life.

That very night we set it up and showed Monkey what the colors meant. It was so simple. All we told her was that blue meant it was time to go to sleep and yellow meant it was okay to be awake. And she got it. Immediately.

AND? It worked. Just. Like. That. Totally and completely. We read books, the blue light came on (you set it for a certain time), we gave hugs, a drink of water, tucked her in and didn’t hear a peep. She just … went to sleep.

We waited. Waited for the crying, the calling, the yelling. But nothing. Nada. Not a word.

And then I did cartwheels and back handsprings around the house, and ran around my block naked. Okay not really. I’ve never been able to do a back handspring. But I was truly astounded. Could it be? Could it be that I really had my evening time back? That it was no longer being hijacked by a 33-pound terrorist?

Oh, yes it did.

But I was nervous that it was just a fluke. That the novelty would wear off. So I waited to extol the virtues of this product until I knew for certain that it really, really, really was working.

AND OH MY GOD, I am so happy to report that IT IS NOT A FLUKE!

We’ve had night after night after night of successful bedtimes. Don’t get me wrong — there have been a handful of nights in 6 weeks that we’ve had to go back down to her room for one reason or another. But those nights are very rare and don’t result in a prolonged bedtime battle.

While we are still maintaining a rock solid bedtime routine, the My Tot Clock has even worked on those “special” nights where we’re doing something out of the ordinary, like going camping. Oh, and did I mention that you can use My Tot Clock for naps? Monkey’s napping was getting inconsistent and short prior to My Tot Clock’s arrival. But even napping has improved tremendously. Occasionally the naps are only an hour, but she’s not fighting them like she was.

I think the reason the My Tot Clock concept works is because the kids can think for themselves — they see the color, and they know what it means. It’s not me, or any adult, telling the child over and over again what to do — in my case, go to bed. It’s very cut and dried. There’s no middle ground, and there’s no testing to see if the parents really mean it. Blue means it’s time to go to sleep. Yellow means it’s okay to be awake. The end.

I also think that the story and music feature might encourage Monkey to just relax and lie still. She’s like me, she has a hard time shutting her brain off. So now, instead of bedtime being “the time during which I continue my day by playing in the dark,” it’s become a time where she allows herself to unwind by listening to the story, and then she’s relaxed enough to fall asleep.

But those are just my theories about why this thing works. I don’t really care if it actually emitted sleeping gas and that’s why she’s going to bed. I just care that she’s going to sleep!

Bedtime is no longer a time of day that I dread. I am no longer exhausted by the mere thought of it. Now it’s a happy time, full of snuggles and kisses and enjoyable book reading. It’s no longer an endless and futile process that results in me b*tching on facebook and wanting to stab my eyes out.

Thank you My Tot Clock for saving my life. And my child’s. 😉

Oh, and the best part for you?? I just got an email from My Tot Clock offering a 20% discount on the clock and all accessories through September 30, 2010 by using promo code MTCBIS220. It said to feel free to share the code with family and friends, so that’s what I’m doing! I’m actually planning to order another clock for Bean (in the event, God forbid, that they run out again when I actually need it), and a few additional story cartridges.

(And In case you’re wondering, My Tot Clock does not know that I’m writing this blog. This is my completely unbiased opinion and they are in no way compensating me for this.)

Wait! One last thing. Does this post ever end??? If you decide to get the clock, don’t let the kids see what you’re doing. My friend’s toddler saw how she was programming it, etc., and now knows how to make it change colors. Smart little sucker. Her toddler and my toddler are a lot alike in personality, so I took this advice to heart and keep the clock high and out of her reach, just to avoid any unnecessary experimentation.

Okay, really this is it: If you’re interested, check out the story about how My Tot Clock was invented. It was by a mother, just like you and me. I think it’s truly a story about the power of mothers and I think Pamela is pretty kick a$$.

THE END

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11 responses »

    • I’ve been told that even older babies can start to recognize the difference in the colors and understand the awake/asleep concept. So that’s another reason I figured I’d order another one for Bean – might as well start ’em early! Although I think I’ll have absolutely zero trouble with her. She WANTS to go to bed!

  1. OMG. I’m reading the list of things you tried and I can’t believe you did any of them. I mean I believe you did them, but I have no freaking clue how you thought of them or actually had the patience to execute them. DEEP BREATHING?

    Tot Clock reminds me of the trick Aubrey uses – a night light on a timer. When it’s on it’s time to sleep. When the light turns off you can get up and come out of your room.

    So glad you have peaceful nights back!

    • I KNOW, right! I mean who does DEEP BREATHING with a two-year-old!?? I will say that it does sometimes work to help her calm down from a temper tantrum.

      And yes, Aubrey’s night light timer is EXACTLY what My Tot Clock is like, except with extra stuff like the stories and music. I wish I would have known about that idea like a year ago!

  2. Pingback: Save Your Life – My Tot Clock Giveaway! « On the Night You Were Born

  3. Pingback: MOM System « On the Night You Were Born

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