“Wake Up Time” HACK!

If there is such as thing as “time moving too quickly” in this era of quarantine, it would have to apply to SLEEP time. Especially for parents of young children!

In the Pre-COVID days, my 3 year old started having trouble sleeping through the night. As her old routine went out the window, it was replaced with a new pattern of waking up at 3:00AM and coming into my wife and I’s bedroom. Each night, she’d creep up to my side of the bed and whisper, “Daddy, I have to go potty!” Begrudgingly (yet dutifully) I would drag myself out of bed and take her to use the bathroom. No problem.

BUT, over the course of several nights it became clear that the problem was she would never fall back asleep. Each half hour or so, my sweet daughter would come sneaking back to my bedside to ask, “Daddy, is it time to wake up yet?” We’d check the time together, I’d try to explain the beautifully-abstract concept of time to a toddler, I would tuck her back in bed, and we’d repeat the process in about half an hour.

After about six nights (in a row!) of this, something needed to give. Now, my daughter is a sharp little thing. Besides telling you defining trivia about each of the first 7 presidents, she can also count to 30. Reading numbers is easy for her.

What my little girl is still working to comprehend is how time “moves,” and just how long specific intervals of time really are. Digital clocks aren’t very helpful for visualizing the progression of time. But it occurred to me that she can (mostly) pick out the hour on an analog clock (you know, the old-fashioned kind with “hands”). 

I decided to try to make a special clock for her that could be color-coded to show which late night/early morning hours were for sleeping, which single-hour could be used for “quiet play time”, and which hours were acceptable to wake up the rest of the family to start our day.

Like many husbands with access to Amazon, I immediately went online to find an acceptable clock for this experiment. I found a decently-cheap one with the numbers “carved out” that I figured would work well while not being too offensive to the bedroom decor. My plan was to cover the back of the clock with sections of colored construction paper, so that when viewed head-on each hour’s numeral would be color-coded. After a single “Click to Buy”, my plan was all set!

Like any SMART husband who has just bought something on Amazon, I then shared my hare-brained idea with my wife. She was a little suspect, but she thought it was worth a try at least. Two grueling nights (and days) later and the clock arrived on my doorstep. That evening, my wife (being much more “crafty” than myself) sat down to renovate the clock. (For the recorded, I was truly planning to do it myself.)

Wake Up Time Clock Project Supplies

A few sheets of construction paper, one pair of scissors, and some Scotch tape later, and we had a “Wake-Up Time” clock.

Behind the Scenes of the Wake Up Clock

That night, we hung it in our daughter’s bedroom and explained what the colors meant.

Completed Wake Up Clock

When she woke up and wanted to know if it was time to get up yet, she’d first look at her special clock. If the hour-hand pointed to a “red” number, that meant she would need to climb back in bed and go back to sleep. If the hour-hand pointed to the lone “yellow” number, in our case, “5”, this meant our daughter could play quietly in her bedroom. Once the hour-hand was pointing to one of the “green” numbers, our daughter had free rein to burst into our bedroom and wake up my wife and I to begin the day.

My daughter thought she was pretty hot-crap to have such an advanced piece of technology that was all hers! I’d be lying if I said that it worked the very first night. In truth, it took two or three nights of walking my daughter through using her clock for her to truly “get it,” but ever since then, I haven’t woken up to, “Daddy, is it time to wake up yet?

No, since then I’ve been waking up to “Daddy, it’s time to wake up!!!” And for the most part, she’s been right.

Author: Nathan Odell

Published: April 14, 2020