When my boys were two we got family to buy them a GroClock* for Christmas (yes, it’s not the most fun present but they were two and didn’t care – and I NEEDED that clock!!) It was hands down the best product we owned during their toddler years. I went from a tortured, exhausted mum running on empty to suddenly being allowed to sleep through until a reasonable time in the morning again. I’d go as far as to say it changed my life. You can read all about the sleep torture and the result of the GroClock experiment with my boys if you missed it first time around.
E was the BEST EVER sleeper. From five nights old, she was sleeping through until 5am. A week later she was making it to 7am. From about three months she was happy going to bed awake at 7pm and settling herself down, then sleeping through without waking until morning. It was bliss after having a few sleep issues with the boys when they were little.
This carried on for two years. Until the day we moved out of our house in August, got rid of her cot (there was no point shipping it to Australia as she could already climb out of it so it had started to cause more problems than it was worth) and spent a month visiting relatives in the UK and a month in a holiday home in Australia. She slept on a camp bed or in a travel cot during this time, and started waking by 6am every day.
By the time we moved into our rental in Australia in October, she had a new bed to get used to. We didn’t bother with a toddler bed, instead we barricaded the sides of the bed to stop her falling out to make it safe. Getting her to stay in bed in the evening was a massive challenge as she’d get up every two minutes. We’d put her back to bed. She’d get up. This has been going on for FOUR MONTHS. Odd nights she goes off in a few minutes, if she’s shattered and hasn’t had a nap during the day, but mostly it’s still a challenge.
She’s also taken to waking in the night. Sometimes this could be once, other nights four times. And as for mornings, she started getting earlier and earlier each day until it hit 4.50am, by which point I finally cracked. I’d been surviving on about five hours a night since landing, and I finally got to the end of my tether. (I’m an 8hr a night girl usually, so 5hrs was hurting. A lot.)
So I dug the GroClock out of the boxes in the garage and we made a start on sleep training. Having been through it with the boys I knew that being firm and consistent was the best approach. Unfortunately the stairgate we have for her bedroom is a little small and when she lays on the floor and kicks at it (which she does!) it springs open. So as we have no barrier to keep her in the room, we just have to keep putting her back to bed and hoping it finally clicks.
We’ve had the clock going for a couple of weeks now. There has definitely been an improvement in the mornings. I’m making her stay in her room until 6am every morning, which is when we’ve set the sun to come out on the clock. Some days this is easier than others! On the bad days when she wakes screaming for milk over and over again I end up getting in bed with her and we watch for the clock to change together. If it’s before 5am, she will usually let me put her back to bed. She has even slept in until 6am a few times (this morning it was 6.25am which was a total lie in for us!!!!)
We make such a fuss about how she has stayed in bed until the sun each morning, and she gets totally excited about it. Plus reading the little story book (that comes with the clock) every night helps remind her why she needs to get her sleep. She loves that the pig in the story gets a special clock just like hers.
I’m planning on making the clock a little later this week so we’ll see how we get on. I can honestly say though, since starting to use it she has not been out of her room before 6am which I think it a huge step forward for her. It has taken some serious determination from me (as hubby is usually at work) but I’ve stuck with it.
I’m hoping we can push it back later as the weeks go on so that eventually she’s sleeping til 6.30am/6.45am every day which is when the boys tend to wake up. I never thought I’d see 6.30am as a lie in after the last few months it really is!
Bedtimes are still a big challenge. She wants to get up, but the battles are only lasting half an hour now instead of two hours so being determined and consistent is finally paying off. It’s getting better because we’re putting her straight back to bed each time – it doesn’t have anything to do with the clock as at night she doesn’t care that the stars are out – just wants to get up and be with us.
With the boys, we now let them play in their room after their bedtime story until they either get tired or it gets a bit too late (at which point we tell them the light will be out in 5 mins). This is working really well for us as they stay in their room after 7.30pm which gives us our evenings, but it also means we don’t have to do battle with them. E isn’t quite old enough to get this yet (plus playing in her room isn’t as much fun for her as it is for the boys who share a room) but in the future it’s something we’ll do with her. For now though, we’ll persevere by putting her back to bed every five minutes and I’m sure we’ll get there in the end.
Has the GroClock been a success this time around? It is working, but more slowly than with the boys. A big reason for this is down to the differences between raising twins and singletons though. The boys grew up surrounded by stairgates, being strapped in the buggy and walking with reins. They were used to being controlled by us because otherwise we’d end up with one smashing plates in the kitchen while the other was attempting to unlock the front door. The stairgates everywhere and strict rules helped keep them safe and they were fine with that so bringing in the GroClock was easy. With E, she has never really had stairgates around, she has always hated going in the buggy (and as a baby I could easily carry her while pushing if I needed to – something I couldn’t do with two babies) and she despises the reins. She’s used to freedom and hates being told what to do. So for her, and us, it has been harder.
The way we’ve done it this time has been much gentler and it feels kinder (nobody likes locking their crying kids behind a stairgate!) but it’s also less effective so takes a lot longer to start working. I’m sticking with it though as I think I might just be able to see light at the end of the tunnel!
Have you used the GroClock and had any luck with it? I’d love to hear about it!
* We got our GroClock as a Christmas present from family a few years ago – this is not a review endorsed by The GroCompany, it is entirely my own opinion of the product that I wanted to share. The link I’ve used is an affiliate link which means I earn a small amount of money if you go on the buy the clock.