I love spending time with my kids. But like pretty much every parent I’ve encountered, I also relish what little quiet, alone time I can get these days.
For me, that personal time has typically occurred first thing in the morning before anyone else in the house is awake.
Ever since I entered the real world and got a full time job, I’ve been an early riser. I’m usually out of bed by 5:30 a.m., so the early mornings that came with parenthood weren’t really much of an adjustment for me so long as I had a decent night’s sleep. Thankfully, we’ve had two pretty good sleepers, so sleep deprivation has only been an issue a handful of times.
Before our kids came along I’d use the hour or two that I had between my wake up time and FM’s to do things I enjoyed and ease myself into my day. Depending on the time of year and the weather outside, I’d so things like workout in our basement, go for jogs, ride my bike, watch sports highlights, enjoy a coffee while I read or wrote, and get myself ready for the day.
That free time obviously diminished when the kids came along, but I was still able to squeeze in a couple of those solo activity sessions each week.
A couple of months ago, our toddler started eliminating them entirely though. He suddenly decided to push his morning wake up time earlier and earlier. It got to the point that he was essentially serving as my alarm clock, calling for me or FM at crazy early hours and refusing to even consider going back to sleep.
If we tried to get him back down, he’d either be up calling for us within 15 minutes or would start crying, waking up his sister in the process and putting an end to any hope FM and I had for a normal night’s rest.
Because I’m an early riser, I would usually get up with him. It was great to spend some one on one time with him, but it also eliminated any hope I had of doing the things I enjoyed in my early morning alone time.
We hoped it was just another phase he was going through, but it got to the point after a few weeks that we decided we had to do something about it for all our sakes. He needed more sleep, FM and our daughter needed better sleeps, and I was definitely open to the idea of a less hectic morning so I could ease myself into my days again.
As she does with pretty much any kid-related issue we encounter, FM did some research on how to keep your toddler quiet and in bed in the morning.
One of the more interesting things she came across a product called the Gro Clock.
Basically the clock uses images of stars and the sun to teach kids when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to get up. The stars are on with a blue screen for sleep-time, the sun appears and the screen turns yellow when it’s ok to wake up.
The one thing that worried us was the $70 cost. If we tried this clock out and he didn’t do what we were hoping for, then it would have felt like a pretty expensive experiment.
We asked around in our circle of friends and it turned out that another couple we know used the product for his own toddlers when they went through similar phases with their sleep patterns. They couldn’t say enough good things about it. We then did more research online and saw enough positive reviews that we figured it was worth a shot.
So we decided to give it a try too…and it gave me my mornings back! Best $70 we’ve spent in a while!
Our little guy has been an absolute champ with the Gro Clock from quite literally the first night we used it.
Saying “goodnight” and “see you in the morning!” to the the sun has become an exciting part of his normal bedtime routine. We give him a reminder each night that if he wakes up before the sun, he needs to either try to go back to sleep or wait quietly in his crib until the sun appears. Then he’s free to call for me of FM to come get him up for the day.
We’ve set the wake up time for 6:30 a.m., which allows me to have an hour to do some things I enjoy and get myself ready for the day before he gets up. We then have enough time left to have breakfast as a family and to get him ready for daycare before I head to work for the day after dropping him off.
It’s been a couple of months now and I can count on one hand how many times we’ve had to retrieve our son from his crib before the clock indicates he’s allowed to get up. Those rare instances have almost all been caused by dire needs for diaper changes (I won’t go into details, but I’m sure you can guess what I mean) that he simply can’t ignore.
I will acknowledge that our experience may not be what others encounter. We’re very fortunate that our little dude takes (most of) what we tell him very seriously. He’s also very keen to impress his mom and dad with his ability to listen to and understand us.
If your kid doesn’t buy in, then this is likely not going to be a worthwhile purchase. If they will though, this is an amazing way to both ensure your kids are getting the sleep they need and to reclaim your mornings!
Have you ever used a product like the Gro Clock? What was your experience like? Let me know by leaving a comment below, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by connecting on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Remember to check out my Resources page for other Tried and Tested Baby Gear, Recommended Readings, and Financial Services that I use in my frugal parenting endeavours.
Also remember to have a look below for the latest dishes from our Random Pile o’ Recipes Reduction Project.
Until next Saturday, thanks for reading!
***Full disclosure: This post contained affiliate links. See my disclaimer for more information.
Last week’s recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
I really like trying traditional dishes from other areas of the world. I’m also a fan of spicy foods. So for me, this dish was a real hit. Unfortunately, it won’t hold up as a family friendly frugal meal because of the latter of those two likes. While this was cooking, I knew from a quick taste test that I’d be the only one of us eating it – it simply had too much heat for FM to enjoy, which means it was going to be an impossibility for the kids to try. Off to the recycle bin with this one.
This week’s selection: Caramelized Onion Pasta Carbonara