Friday, 13 February 2015

A lie-in at last? - Gro Clock review.

Since he was a baby Bug has always been a little livewire who seems to thrive on less sleep than other little ones of the same age.  Whilst my only concern has ever been that he is getting enough sleep so that he is happy and healthy, Bug’s love of early mornings has taken its toll over the years.

If Bug wakes in the early hours of the morning and glimpses a speck of sunshine he things its day time and time to wake up……regardless of whether mummy and daddy think silly-o-clock is a reasonable hour to wake up.

As the early wake up calls courtesy of Bug are getting very tiresome I am hoping that the Gro Company’s GroClock can come to the rescue and help me get a lie-in and some much needed sleep by teaching Bug not to get up and be raring to go so early!

The GroClock is a fun clock for children that is designed to teach children, even very young children who can’t read time, to recognise day from night from the comfort of their bed so that they understand when it’s time to get up and importantly when it’s not time to get up.

The clock uses appealing images of the stars and sun to communicate to children when it’s sleep time and when it’s time to get up. Put simply the message it gives to children is - “stay in bed until you see the sun!”

The ingenious GroClock has a number of useful and appealing features –

To encourage Bug to ‘use’ the clock and learn about when is the right time to get up I wanted Bug to be involved with setting up the clock. Thankfully the Gro Clock comes with a book – ‘Sleepy Farm’ - that helps introduce the concept of the clock and the importance of sleep to little ones.

The book tells the tale of a little pig who is grumpy and does not play and have fun like his farm friends because he is too tired having been up before the sun. With the help of a special clock that the other animals get him, Percy Pig finally sleeps all night until daytime which leaves him happy and full of energy.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the age-appropriate story is a great way to introduce the importance of sleep to little ones. Bug loved the story and was especially excited that he had a special clock just like Percy Pig.

Since getting the clock we have been reading ‘Sleepy Farm’ every night as part of our bedtime routine, setting Bug’s special clock when we reach the end of the story.

With a few different features and settings using the clock can be a bit of a learning curve (not helped by pregnancy brain I’m sure) but thankfully the clock comes with easy to understand instructions. Whilst I have learnt how to use the clock on a daily basis, if I needed to change any settings I think I would have to reach for the manual to guide me through it.

Bug loves the images on the clock and the simplicity of the colours and images – blue and stars for night, and yellow and the sun for day – is easy for little ones to understand.  I also love how the stars go out one-by-one throughout the night to show the passing of time.

The Gro Clock’s glowing face is very bright and illuminate’s Bug’s bedroom better than the night light we have. If the brightness is too intense, which could be a distraction to little ones and not help them sleep thankfully you can change the brightness and intensity of the LED light by changing the brightness levels in the clock’s settings – don’t worry the manual helpfully tells you exactly how to change the brightness levels.

The clock works by mains adapter and does not come with a battery compartment. Whilst on the whole this is no issue as you are reliant on mains power if the power goes off so does the clock. If the power goes out in the middle of the night the clock ‘freezes’ the settings (time, wake-up times, brightness settings) which is not a big deal if the power is only briefly off for a few seconds but if the power is off for longer, say 3 hours then the time on the clock will be out by 3 hours and need re-setting. If the clock had a battery compartment as a secondary back-up option then at least the clock would still work and not have to be reset or the time be off which could affect the routine of little ones. Another bonus of having a battery compartment along with the mains power plug would be that the clock could be used on camping trips where being able to plug into mains power is not always and option. Overall I think it would help little ones maintain their routine.

I love the fact that you can show the time digitally on the clock. This optional feature is great for when children are learning to read time. At the moment we have not been using this feature, concentrating on improving Bug’s wake-up times and his sleep overall but it is good to know that it is there for future use.

I also like the optional audible alarm feature. It is good to know that we have the option of setting an alarm in the future to make sure Bug is wake if we have an early start or when the day (hopefully) comes when he sleeps in and we have to struggle to get him up and out of bed unlike now.

Both the digital time and audible alarm features mean the clock will grow with children making the clock in a worthwhile product that will useful long-term.

Another useful feature is the two separate wake-up times (weekday/weekend or night/nap). Whilst we have not managed to get Bug to understand the idea that he does not have to wake up as early on the weekends and a lie-in would be nice, when he hopefully learns about sleeping in it is good to know we could have separate wake-up times for the weekend when he does not have school. This feature would also be very handy if the clock is used with younger children to have a separate wake-up time for naps.

Whilst all the features are brilliant the key question is has the clock helped Bug with his sleep habits and encouraged him to not wake-up before the birds start singing outside?

Overall we have seen positive changes and things are improving.

My reservations that Bug’s strong will and current sleeping habits would deter any change in his sleeping and waking routine, along with my belief that Bug may be too old and that we should have tried the clock when he was younger thankfully turned out to be unfounded worries,

He understand the clock and the excitement of having his own special clock has seen him take to the idea of clock and the notion of not getting up until the sun is out very well. Slowly we have been able to increase the time so that his wake-up time is later in the morning. Although we have yet to master late lie-ins we are benefiting from the clock and have seen his wake-up time move later into the morning by a good, blissful hour.

Even on the few morning when I hear Bug wake up earlier instead of being raring to go, rushing in to wake me up for fun and games he has quietly stayed in his bedroom colouring, reading a book or playing a game on his little computer until the sun has shown his face on the clock. Even though he may not be sleeping I am more than happy with this change as he is not waking us up loudly and he is having a more relaxed beginning to his day too which is better for his energy levels and his mood.

Whilst we have seen positive improvements to Bug’s sleep habits and morning routine I am hesitant of whether the changes will remain once the summer months arrive when the draw of lighter mornings may affect Bug’s sleep and desire to get up early. Only time will tell but I hope my apprehensions are unwarranted.

Another benefit I have seen from the clock is getting Bug to bed. As he has never been much of a sleeper he has never been one to happily go to bed and sleep on time but thanks to the clocks night time face when the face is filled with stars surrounding a giant star, Bug knows it is bedtime. During our bedtime routine when the sun winks goodbye as it changes from yellow to orange and the stars come out he proudly declares to me it’s night time and the stars are out before happily settling down to sleep.

The Gro Clock will be used in our house for many years to come. Whilst we have been fortunate to get positive outcomes with the clock with Bug in spite of being nearly 4 years old, we will definitely we using the clock with Jelly Bean and any subsequent children from the recommended age of 2 years.

Overall the Gro Clock is a genius product is both fun and practical. The vast features make this clock a clever product that grows with your child and the colourful clock face with friendly sun and stars images along with the lovely story book is very appealing to little ones.

The Gro Clock (£29.99) comes complete with mains plug adaptor, instruction manual and a story book.

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