Sleepless in Ilkeston: The Gro Clock Miracle
Remember when they were babies and you never got much sleep?
Remember getting the odd 3 hours of solid sleep and feeling like you had slept for a month?
After going through months of that torture, surviving each day looking after that bundle of energetic joy, most of them do start to sleep better.
It’s at that point that really puzzles me, because it takes something like a virus or teething to disrupt the great sleeping pattern for just a few days and it knocks me for six!
Two nights of no sleep feels like an eternity, and I start asking myself how I ever managed when he was a newborn for 4 months solid.
Thankfully my son’s doing ok with his sleeping at the moment, but I’m aware there are many toddlers out there who are still punishing their parents even when they’re not ill or teething.
I wanted to show you something that is currently being raved about in the online parenting world: The Gro Clock.
It’s a sleep trainer for young children and comes with a free bedtime book that also teaches the child when to go to sleep, and when they can get up. Sounds far too simple to be any good doesn’t it?
Well check out my good friend Michelle Stevenson’s year-long battle to get her son to sleep on his own through the night, and then tell me you still don’t believe the hype…
Tonight my almost 3-year-old son went to bed happy, there was no battle. He actually raced to get into bed and was snuggled up before I reached his room. After almost 2 years of sleep troubles our lives have been changed in just a few days thanks to an amazing product called a Gro Clock.
Here’s our journey:
Ryan’s dad left when he was 13 months old and I guess this is when the sleep problems really began. I was feeling very low and was very tired from being a full-time working mum adjusting to life as a single parent.
It started with me taking comfort from cuddling him to sleep at night, I’d get in from work at 6.15pm, sort us some dinner, get him ready for bed then we’d curl up on the settee and watch TV.
More often than not we’d both nod off on the settee so I’d end up putting him to bed already fast asleep. Ryan was still night waking a couple of times a night but as a single working mum I started letting him sleep in my bed when he woke, just so I could get enough sleep to function for work the next day.
DEVELOPING A ROUTINE
When Ryan reached 18 months old I started to realize what bad habits we’d fallen into and thought it was time to get him into a better bedtime routine for his sake and also so I could get some time to myself in the evening too.
I moved him out of his cot and into a bed. I decided on a routine and talked to him about it before starting it. I turned down the lights and we had a quiet half hour before I took him to bed and read him a story.
I’d sit in the room until he fell asleep, sometimes he’d fall asleep quickly, sometimes it’d be 40 minutes or more,-I fell asleep on his bedroom floor on more than one occasion.
After a couple of months of doing this I realised although I’d got him falling asleep in bed I was still there for comfort ,so I’d achieved a bedtime routine, but had failed to teach him how to self-settle.
So March 2013, Ryan is nearly 2 years old and I’m still sitting on his floor every night until he falls asleep and he’s still waking me each night wanting to get into my bed.
I was exhausted and starting to think I’d never get a full night’s sleep again and there was no way I’d ever get any time to myself to
enjoy myself or start dating again.
But then comes Bedtime Live on Channel 4, a new TV series designed to help exhausted parents learn to deal with bedtime
issues. From this show I learned how to use the gradual retreat method and along with a sticker reward chart I’d soon got a little boy quite happy to go to bed knowing I would leave him alone to settle himself to sleep.
Sometimes I’d hear him “reading” his story books and would find him asleep with book in hand. Peace at last 🙂 Yes he was still night waking and climbing into my bed at night but we’d made some progress so I thought he’d grow out of it soon enough.
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
Nope, a few months later and he was still night waking and I’m still tired and then one night in the Summer he had a night terror and his bedtime routine fell apart.
I know it is said that young children don’t remember night terrors and Ryan never spoke of it but after that night he no longer wanted to go to bed at night. He’d cry hysterically if I left the bedroom and I ended up having to hold his hand until he fell asleep, but then he’d wake up as soon as I tried to slip out of the room.
I could be in his room for 2 hours waiting for him to fall into a deep sleep. I’d eventually get myself into bed only for him to wake
me up soon after. It was exhausting. I was back at square one.
I eventually sought guidance from a baby sleep expert I’d seen on Bedtime Live @SugdenDeb
and she advised me to go back to the beginning and restart his sleep training with the gradual retreat method again.
So that’s what I did. It took a few weeks but eventually he was going to bed relaxed again and I’d progressed to
sitting at his bedroom door until he fell asleep rather than holding his hand.
But this is where it stalled.
DATING ON THE LANDING
Autumn 2013 and Ryan still wouldn’t let me completely leave him at bedtime, if I tried to move to leaving the room he’d be bolt upright saying “no mummy, sit on the floor”.
I was still spending up to 40 minutes sitting on the floor waiting for him to fall asleep so I could go downstairs. Despite being
constantly tired and lacking a social life I’d managed to find myself a new man.
However my boyfriend would often end up sitting on the landing outside the bedroom door just so we got part of the evening together! I was lucky he was so understanding because this was mental.
The night waking was also still continuing but now I had a boyfriend to consider too. He’d been understanding
of the bedtime routine but I didn’t want Ryan to be trying to get in my bed when my boyfriend was staying over. It wasn’t right so that was the push to deal with the night waking.
STAY IN YOUR OWN BED
I started off with trying rewards again offering a lollipop to Ryan as the reward for staying in his own bed all night. He won his lollipop on occasions but it was very rare.
I tried talking to him about how his friends sleep in their own beds all night and how he was a big boy and he should do the same but
his answer was always “but I like mummy’s bed”.
I tried turning off his night light once he was asleep because I’d read having the light could be a
cause of night waking. No change. My boyfriend tried talking to him thinking it might be better hearing it from someone else.
I tried taking him back to his bed whenever he’d woke up but it was truly exhausting and I’d end
up stressed because I was watching the clock knowing I’d got to get up for work in a couple more hours.
I had 3 weeks leave from work over Xmas so had decided that would be the ideal time to really go for it and persevere with returning
him to bed whenever he woke.
The first night went well, I stuck to my guns and after a few returns he finally stayed in bed. Great start I thought.
Night 2, he came down with a virus and developed a bad fever which meant I had to abandon the night challenge and share a bed with him to look after him. He was poorly for a week, then we had Xmas, then I was poorly then my annual leave was over and it was time to go back to work.
I’d made no further attempts at the return to bed and I was still sitting on his bedroom floor each night. Help me!
SEARCHING FOR A SOLUTION
So, what to do next. Back to searching the internet for a solution. After Googling toddler sleep issues I came across a link to amazon for a product called a Gro Clock.
Created by The Gro Company this clock would apparently help my toddler learn when it was time to go to sleep and when it was ok to wake up and come out of his room. A short video on the product page explained how it worked and how much positive feedback they get from parents who have used it.
The positive reviews convinced me it was worth spending £19.95 to give it a try. I showed the clock on the internet to Ryan and we watched the video together. In fact Ryan watched it half a dozen times and was very excited when I said I’d buy it for him.
We ordered it on the Saturday and it had arrived by Monday! The Gro Clock came with clear instructions that guided me how to set the time I’d be happy for Ryan to get out of bed and how to activate it at bedtime.
It simply uses a lovely, friendly looking blue star to show it’s bedtime and a smiley happy yellow sunshine to show its morning.
The main big star is surrounded by lots of little stars which one by one disappear through the night counting down until it’s time for the sunshine to appear.
We set the clock up and did a practice. Pretending to be asleep we then woke up and looked at the clock.
There was still a big star and one little star so I explained to Ryan it was still sleep time so we went back to pretending to be asleep. Couple of minutes later we checked again and it was a sunshine so we jumped up saying its morning, time to get up. Ryan loved it.
The clock also comes with a lovely bedtime story which helps your child understand the need for a good night’s sleep.
On the first night we did the usual routine with a couple of his favourite books and then I introduced the Gro Clock book Sleepy Farm. The story went down really well with Ryan because he loves farms and animals.
The writing in the book is quite small and some pages are dark in colour making the black font difficult to see in dim light so we had to put a night light on.
As you read through the story of Percy Pig who is too tired to play with his friends it illustrates the same sun as on the clock and when it is time for the farm to sleep it prompts you to press the button on the clock to activate the night time mode. Simple. Ryan said goodnight to the sunshine and said hello to the sleepy star.
The story continues until Percy Pig gets his own Gro Clock and learns how much better it is to sleep at night. Ryan got really excited when he saw he had the same clock as Percy. When story time finished Ryan snuggled down and I explained that he needs his sleep just like Percy Pig and I’d like him to stay in his own bed until he saw the sunshine smiling on his clock just like we’ practiced earlier.
I said goodnight and left the room. I waited for the usual shout of “are you sitting on the floor mummy”…silence. I waited a
few more minutes…still nothing!! Wow! I went downstairs and didn’t hear a sound from his room.
I went back a few minutes later and he was asleep!! Wow!! Amazing!! This Gro Clock was going great so far. Now the big test, will he stay in bed all night!
THE GRO CLOCK MIRACLE
At 6am the next morning I was woken by “mummy it’s morning time, the sunshine has waked up”!!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! It had worked! Ryan had stayed in his own bed all night and I’d slept all night! The Gro Clock had worked a miracle. Ok I thought, it’s a novelty, it’ll wear off after another night…
One week later and I am still raving about the Gro Clock. I’m not exaggerating when I say this product really has changed our lives. Ryan goes to bed happy, he doesn’t need me in his room anymore to settle and he is still sleeping in his own bed.
He has got out of bed once but after being put back in bed he stayed put until the sunshine appeared on his clock. He is so excited to wake me up in the morning to tell me the sun is on the clock.
He loves it and believe me so do I ! Almost 3 years of sleep deprivation and 2 years of bedtime battles solved in
one night by a £20 clock! I really can’t recommend the Gro Clock enough, it has worked its magic for this family and I strongly suggest you purchase one for your child if you are going through the same troubles we’ve had.
Just reading this was enough to get me in touch with The Gro Company, and they have very kindly given me my very own Gro Clock for when Chunk starts to regress with his sleeping, which I hear tends to happen around age 2, which he happens to be turning this month!
I’m impressed with how it looks, and the method that comes with it, in terms of using the story book to teach the child how to use the clock, and the online videos The Gro Company provide to help you practice with your child to help it work as quickly as possible.
To find out more about this clock or any of The Gro Company’s other fab products, click here.
For the purpose of this post, I was given this item to review. No payment was received for this post, and all opinions are honest and my own.