Well that’s it – summer has come and gone. I hope you’ve had an exciting summer, I know we certainly have and I have so many things I want to write about but I’m starting with something simple.

I’ve been thinking over the summer that for the purposes of this blog it’s hard to keep referring to my children as elder and younger so it got me thinking, what animals are my kids like and could I find a nickname for the purposes of this blog which would reflect their personality types?

Animals like – slow loris, and ostrich spring to mind for our eldest as he’s slower at everything, more cautious and honestly when is under pressure simply freezes – or like an ostrich tries to hide his head away. Whilst our youngest is – like a tiger – fierce, swift, quick to ascertain the situation, but when he’s under pressure he’s aggressive – like a tiger he attacks first and thinks later.

But overall I didn’t like these names. So I settled on something more basic – their sleeping patterns. We have one owl (up very late in the night) and one lark (literally up with the sun). Going forward my eldest is going to be called ‘owl’ and our youngest ‘lark’.

Well what have we learned about sleeping. In our house our kids have to share a room at the moment, not perfectly ideal as with the lark waking up at the sun rise and the owl staying up very late – we struggled when they first arrived.

Their anxiety meant that if one was awake they would try to wake the other. It was not unheard of for us to find lark – literally standing on owl to wake him with the sun, and then at night we’d find owl twittering away to themselves waking lark from deep slumber. Neither party was happy, both were tired. Nor we’re we rested, we were always trying to balance the needs/anxiety/sleep pattern of both. Something had to give.

The first thing we did was buy a blackout blind. This meant for either evening or morning, less light was getting in the room. We found an AMAZING one by The Gro Company (www.gro.co.uk). The blackout blind is a travel one so has been invaluable when we’ve gone away visiting, on hols etc.

We then had to find a way to let them know about time, when was it OK to be up etc. Luckily The Gro Company has another AMAZING solution! The Gro Clock – it tells the time with stars for night (sleep time) and the sun for day (awake time). Additionally the Gro Clock comes with it’s own little book about Percy Pig and his farm friends and why Percy is always grumpy (not getting enough sleep)!!

Finally – we had to talk about the rules. We started with the Percy Pig story and talked about how each of us feel when we’re tired. We asked lark how they liked being woken up by owl at night – ‘like crying’ came the answer, we asked owl how they felt about being woken up early in the morning – ‘angry’ came the reply. We talked about the days when everyone was tired and how little things bothered us and how we got along less. We then explained that the clock will tell them when they need to be resting (we assured them we can’t always sleep – so it’s OK to ‘rest’ if you can’t sleep – with your eyes closed, hugging your teddy and being quiet!!!!). We explained that waking up another person was not good and would no longer be allowed. We added in a consequence – if you were keeping up or waking up the other person – the consequence is simple – if you don’t want to be asleep (when everyone else is, or when you should be – like bed time), and you want to be up – then you may sit at the kitchen table. We immediately were able to stop the stress – no more telling off if they were messing around, not more threats of ‘if you do this again – no TV tomorrow’ (a consequence which would then impact our day the next day). We would simply go into their room and say ‘OK – you’re awake time to go to the kitchen chair’. This had an immediate effect – being awake at the kitchen table by yourself is NO FUN. Although both of them had to try the consequence a few times (and screamed the house down about how unfair this really was) they very quickly realised that actually being comfy in bed, cuddling teddy is better.

Overall both are far more comfortable, both sleep much longer and we honestly have seen a change because of the better sleep. This routine driven sleeping has meant that even on holidays – when we couldn’t take the clock – they were able to regulate themselves enough not to wake up the other!

I’m sure many households experience sleeping issues with kids and a great many friends (with birth kids and adoptive kids) have tried out the Gro Clock and our consequence and they’ve told us it’s worked for them too. So if you try it and it works let us know – or if you have any other suggestions we’d love to hear them!