Getting young children to stay in bed until the time you want them to is a challenge.
It seems that gone are the days when you could sleep in until your own alarm went off – 7am at the weekend seems like a lie-in.
The Gro-clock attempts to help frazzled and sleep-deprived parents by providing a simple-to-understand clock for younger children.
The Gro-clock has two main faces – a dim blue “moon and stars” face and a bright yellow “sun rays” face – as well as an unlit LCD clock which displays the time when not in use.
Set up is relatively simple, presuming you want your child to stay in their room until the same time every single day (which sleep experts believe aids sleep health anyway).
You enter the time you want your child to stay in their bedroom until, and then at bedtime, put the clock in sleep mode.
You can watch the clock face change from a bright sun to a deep blue moon. The 12 stars around the edge of the clock disappear one-by-one during the course of the night, providing a visual clue to the child how much time is left before they can get up. The time is also displayed – useful if you child can tell the time.
You can also set a separate ‘nap time’ mode, if your child has a regular daytime snooze.
It is possible to set an audible alarm, which is useful if you child has to get up at a certain time. However, we currently prefer to keep the clock silent, meaning that if we’re lucky enough for our children to sleep in, they (and thus we) are not disturbed!
It’s possible to set the audible alarm to a different time to the wake up, which might be useful.
There is a key lock, although it’s not particularly sophisticated so could easily be ‘cracked’ either accidentally or on purpose by an inquisitive/determined child.
Does it work?
Whether the Gro-clock works will depend on a number of factors, not least how suggestible and conforming your child is!
It does seem to be aimed at much younger children, who are at an age where they can understand concepts and instructions, but not tell the time or remember what time they must stay in their room/stay quiet until.
Our two daughters (aged 5 and 6) have been using it for about six months and they really like it. It can’t stop them from waking up, but our rule is that they must stay quiet and in their rooms (and that includes not talking to each other across the landing) until the sun comes up.
Other parent reviewers have not been so fortunate. Some children have got so excited by the clock – at least to begin with – that they’ve been constantly shouting updates or going into their parents’ bedroom to talk about it.
I fully expect our eldest daughter to grow out of the Gro-clock at some point. Perhaps she’ll graduate on to an alarm clock. For the moment, it’s working well.
Ironically I tend to get up about an hour before the girls are supposed to. Instead of getting extra sleep, I get a nice quiet house to work in for an hour or so before morning chaos begins!
Occasionally the kids have fiddled with the clocks, somehow changing the time or settings, so it’s worth doing a quick check every so often to make sure the time and alarms are correct.
If the power goes off, the clock loses that amount of time until it’s restored – for small power blips of a few seconds this is immaterial, but the clock needs to be reset for long power outages.
The controls for setting times and other modes are a little bit fiddly as there are only three buttons. Fortunately, most people will be able to set and forget their preferences and then it’s just a couple of button taps each night to set the alarm off.
The clock comes with a story book which can be used to explain sleep to your kids. A nice touch but not strictly necessary.
The newest version of the clock can be picked up for between £20 and £30 depending on where you shop and what deals are around. Other similar products exist which do much the same thing.
The Gro-clock is a useful addition to a parent’s toolkit, particularly if you’re struggling with the morning routine.
Disclosure: this personal review was written without any contact with the Gro company, based on the purchase of two units. Product links are affiliate links.