Most mornings now I am woken up by a little person standing by the side of my bed saying "the sun is up mummy".
They are not referring to the actual sun (thankfully, as at this time of year in the UK that would make it 5.15am), but to their Gro-Clock. We bought it 5 years ago when our youngest arrived and her older brother was going through a phase of waking very, very early in the morning. That, combined with a tiny baby waking often in the night to breastfeed made for an extremely tired household for a while.
In the midst of it all we bought the Gro-Clock to try and persuade our oldest to sleep through the night. If you've never seen one, it is a back-lit clock with a night setting and a day setting. You set the time you want the day setting to come on, which is when the 'Sun' comes up, and during the night there is a big star with little stars around the edge. The stars count down until morning, so that when there is only 1 star left the kids now that it is nearly time to get up. It's very clever, particularly in a country like the UK where the sun rises at 4.45am in June and 7.50am in December, so that you really do need to know what time it is to know when to get up in the morning.
I'll be honest, it didn't work straightaway, and we ended up paying a sleep consultant to help us (separately, best money I have ever spent) encourage him to sleep through the night. We persevered with it though, as we liked the simplicity of it, and both kids really liked seeing the Sun come up, even though in the beginning they viewed it more as decoration than instruction. It also comes with a cute bedtime story book which explains to the kids how it works.
In the last couple of years though, it has really come into its own. Our oldest is now 7 and wakes up between 6 and 6.30am most days. However he rarely comes to wake us up before 7am, and sometimes it is as late as 7.30. He wakes up, sees how many stars are left on the 'Sun Clock' and then either tries to go back to sleep or quietly goes downstairs, feeds the cat and then plays with his toys or reads a book. He then comes upstairs every so often to check the Clock, and once the Sun is up he comes in to wake us up.
Our youngest does the same - although clearly on the days they both wake up before the Sun is up they don't always manage to stay quiet enough for us to sleep in for a bit. There was a particularly good weekend a while ago though when the 7yo came into our room at 7.50am and said: "The sun is up, I've fed the cat and given [the 5yo] her breakfast. Could you come and do my breakfast now?" The only reason he felt it necessary to wake us was because he didn't want cereal like his sister and thankfully didn't think he should open the baked bean tin himself.
Both kids can now tell the time, but that's hard to do in the dark, so for now we're sticking with the Gro-Clock. It also got us through jet lag after a recent trip to Australia. I didn't realise it until a couple of days later when the 7yo said: "I woke up loads of times last night Mummy, once there were still 6 stars left on the clock and once there were 3, but I went back to sleep until there was only 1 star and then I went downstairs'. How impressive is that?
Note: I have not been sponsored to write this post, but if you click on one of the links and buy a Gro-clock (or something else) from Amazon then I will receive a tiny commission.