“See the tired mummies* sleeping ‘til it’s nearly dawn
Shall we try and wake them, as it’s nearly morn?
Hear them snore… what a bore… Shush…
WAKE UP MUMMIES!
Hop tired mummies, hop, hop, hop. Stop tired mummies – not, not, not.
Up tired mummies, up, up, up. UP. UP. UP.”
*I know that dads get woken early as well, I just couldn’t fit both titles in without compromising the integrity of the Sleeping Bunnies rhythm. You know how it is.
I don’t normally do reviews; this is my first in fact, as I am so far from an advice-giver and also prefer to use my blog as a place to write humorously useless stuff on life with small people. However, because toddler sleep is so relevant to me and a big chunk of my audience, I thought I would give this one a go.
Our main problem with 2-year-old S’ sleep is trying to get him to nod off at night – I swear he has that fear of missing out syndrome. Then new to the party of exhaustion is early wake-ups, leaving the total time we all get to have some rest drastically reduced. Joy! So after hearing lots about the allegedly amazing Gro-clock, and consulting the oracle that is my lovely Facebook audience, I began to ponder whether such a gadget might actually go ahead and change our lives.
The Gro-clock describes itself as a simple and gentle sleep trainer, suitable from aged 2 upwards. It works by setting the clock to the star face when it’s time to sleep, and encouraging children to stay in bed until it changes to the sunshine face in the morning (a time chosen by you). I really like its simplicity – it also has different options for teaching the time for older kids – but for us the two settings of blue star and yellow sun are perfect. And I assume ours is not the only tot knee-deep in a sky related obsession, so I think the concept of stars and sun on easily distinguished bright colours are very toddler friendly.
I struggled to set the clock up which may just be an example of my technical ineptitude; although I have heard others say it is a bit fiddly. My husband did it with no problem though (show-off) and the children’s book that comes with it is lovely and definitely helped my son understand the idea behind the clock. The story is in rhyme form and uses farm yard animals to explain that kids are grumpy blighters when they don’t get enough sleep; but if they stay in bed until the sun shines they’ll be much happier and so will their parents. Ain’t that the truth?
S loved setting the clock from the off, causing the sun to wink and close its eyes and the stars appear for sleep. The first night, he nodded off after a mere five minutes and we couldn’t believe the miracle in front of us. He was particularly tired though after not napping but we were still impressed and all ready to give thanks to ye’ gods of Gro-clock HQ. Then he woke at 5 AM in the morning and appeared to not give two merry hoots that the sun wasn’t out yet. Obviously, I needed to be firm and remind him to stay in bed until then, staying with him if necessary (he doesn’t settle to sleep on his own), but of course, at 5 AM, I was fit for nothing more than dumping him in to bed with us when my polite suggestion to wait for the sun was aggressively rebuffed. This spoilt the theory behind getting up when the sun appeared, as he was in the wrong room when it did. So far, so 50/50, but we knew we needed to use the clock for a couple of weeks to get results. We also needed to do that other thing we were pretty rubbish at: be consistent.
The Gro-clock has remained brilliant in helping to get him to sleep, seeming to focus his mind on the job at hand, and understand that sleeping stars mean it’s time for him to nod off too. Though he still faffs about a bit sometimes, he stays laid down and therefore winds down quicker. Basically, we are enduring a good few rounds less of ‘Goosey Gander’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ as we wait for him to nod off and despite his clear talents in the vocal area – ahem – this has surely got to be a good thing.
Mornings were hit and miss for a while though, in that we found if he wasn’t disturbed, he would sleep until around 7:10 AM and happily yell ‘Sunshine, sunshine!’ but if he stirred any time from 5:30 AM, by cough, sneeze or wind, he seemed to wake fully and could not be persuaded to settle back down at all. It’s worth mentioning this was over the awful lovely heatwave which I don’t think helped, plus he has hay fever which was worsened by open windows. Together with our bouts of accidental co-sleeping, the Gro-clock had quite a battle on its hands.
After ten days, we made a few changes which I think caused a big up-turn in the Gro-clock’s effectiveness. The first was something we should have done from the start, which is setting the sunshine / wake-up for a more realistic time, with the plan of inching it further back to the ideal. So whereas we originally plumped for 7 AM, if he woke at 6 AM, there was just no way he was waiting an hour for the clock to change. The only chance we would have to keep him in his cot would be to lie next to him, on the hard floor, in the cold, with a deadened arm stuck through the cot bars, for an hour. We obviously had even less interest in doing this than he did in going back to sleep so were setting ourselves up to fail.
Once we changed it to 630 AM we saw a noticeable improvement straight away. For starters, it reinforced the point of the clock because, more often than not, he woke around then and seeing the clock was on sunshine, or just changing to pleased him no end and I had lots of, ‘Mummy! SunSHINE! Wake-up!’ which was far preferable to the former immediate cries and him deciding his only options were cold-floor-numb-arm or bed invaders.
And on the two (yes just two!) occasions he woke fully – to our knowledge – before 630, he has accepted my explanation that it’s not quite time to get up because the clock is still on star, and either laid down or sat in his cot for the ten or fifteen minutes until the sun comes up. And we, my friends, have gone back to sleep. All hail ‘ye Gro-gods!
After a further week we moved it to 650 AM and it has worked brilliantly for the last seven days, with him seemingly asleep until 7 AM or later. I don’t know if he’s stirring and settling back once he sees the star face, or if he’s fallen back into a better sleep pattern since the clock has been instilled into his routine. To be honest, I don’t really care which, I’m just deliriously happy about it! Although I know now I have written this he is going to wake up one million times tonight and co-sleep until he is 7… JINX, JINX, JINX.
So in summary, we are really pleased with how the clock has worked, particularly for bed times which were often quite stressful. S is inconsistent with his wake-ups – going from brilliant to awful so this part was perhaps harder to test, but we have still seen a huge improvement since its implementation.
PS – Next hurdle is to reclaim ownership of my right arm – freakishly toned compared to my flabbier left – thanks to S’ current insistence that it be wedged through the cot bar each night and nap time. So if anyone knows any tips to wean a baby or toddler from a parent’s hand please let me know!
The Gro Company kindly sent me a Gro-clock in exchange for writing an honest review about it. All opinions are absolutely my own – you couldn’t make the above inconsistent, sleep related chaos up, right?