The Gro Clock Let Me Reclaim My Mornings!

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, 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!

Frugal Father


***Full disclosure: This post contained affiliate links. See my disclaimer for more information.

Random Pile o’ Recipes Reduction Project

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

Tried and Tested Baby Gear – Munchkin Weighted Straw Sippy Cup

***Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclaimer for more information.

One of the main reasons that I started this website and blog was to try and be something of a resource for other new parents who were dealing with the new financial realities of parenthood. Admittedly, I also thought the potential of earning some affiliate income from readers buying products I have already tried and tested was appealing too. Diversifying my income streams is included in my personal finance guiding principles after all.

When I was brand new to the parenting game, I had a difficult time finding much in the way of resources from other new parents that provided me with useful, practical money-saving tips on which products worked best for them and why they’d recommend them.

By money-saving, I don’t necessarily mean the cheapest. In fact, that’s rarely the case. What I mean is ‘what will get us the best bang for our buck?’. That’s the definition of frugal that FM and ascribe to: making the most economic means of our limited resources.

Related Article: Frugal Finds – A Bargain on a Big Boy Bed

FM and I are the kind of couple that tends to do a ton of research before committing to a major purchase. With a new, tiny human being to make purchases for, almost everything we bought got hyper-scrutinized. We wanted to ensure the products were safe, reliable, and cost-effective.

Sure, there was plenty out there from manufacturers and brands touting how great their own products were. And there were the countless reviews on Amazon to go with each of the 56,215,392,447 (give or take) baby products that it offers through its platform.

But none of it felt concise or trustworthy enough to rely on. The lack of succinct, reliable information was certainly a frustration for us.

While we (ok, mostly FM) did tons of research on what to buy and where we could get the best price, we ended up taking some risks (albeit fairly calculated) and ultimately making some spending mistakes along the way.

On some things we hit on and made the right call, on others we didn’t. Thankfully the mistake tended to be on lower-cost products than the big-ticket items.

One area we really struggled with was with sippy cups when out son was ready to start using one.

At some point I’m going to do an article on all the things you don’t need as a parent, but for today I’m going to focus on a product we ended up being very happy with and would suggest to any of our friends or family going through a similar struggle with finding the right sippy cup for their own kid(s).

That product is the Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Sippy Cup.

munchkin weighted straw sippy cup

Before we had kids, we heard friends complain about being on the third, fourth, or fifth (or more!) type of sippy cup for their child.

I found this impossible to believe. How could it be possible for a kid not to figure out how to get liquid from a cup specifically designed to allow a child to do that?

Well, fatherhood opened my eyes to how entirely possible this scenario is!

Before FM found the Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Sippy Cup for our son after scouring online mommy groups, forums, and websites, we tried at least three other cups that I can recall.

I don’t remember the exact price of each one, but if you use $10 as a typical price for a sippy cup, we would have spent and ultimately wasted at least $30 on cups our son refused and/or was incapable of using before we found this option.

It’s not much, but it’s also $30 that could have been used on other things like our kids’ RESP, our van loan, or our mortgage. Every cent on those things counts, after all!

Once we discovered the Munchkin option, we didn’t have to try another cup again. Our son has since moved on top “big boy cups”, but we went straight to it for our daughter when she was ready to start drinking water. Sure enough, she took to it immediately.

So what made this specific cup work when so many others didn’t?

First, the weighted straw makes it possible for the child to get a swig of their pop (kidding!) water no matter what bizarre angle they’re holding the bottle at.

Second, on the bizarre angle thing again, is that it stays completely sealed. There is next to no leakage when compared to the other options that we had tried.

Third, the straw is small and tight enough that it releases a manageable amount of liquid as opposed to some of the other cups that made it look like our son was trying to drink from a fire hose.

Finally, and particularly relevant to the theme of this blog, it’s fairly inexpensive. As I write this post, it’s just $6.99 on

My only complaint/warning to other parents relates to the cleaning brush that comes with it. As I noted above, the straw is fairly tight. While that’s a benefit to the potential mess the kid using it could make, it does make it rather difficult to clean the inner parts of the straw, since the brush can get stuck. In one instance for us, the wire and bristle piece disconnected from the stem of the brush and became lodged in the straw. Thankfully we noticed it and removed the piece before our son used the cup again, which could have potentially ended up with that piece in his mouth, or worse, being swallowed

Once we discovered this cup, we stuck with it. We had three for our son – one for home, one for daycare, and one for any travels we did. We’ve got one for our daughter at the moment, but will definitely be picking up more once she heads to daycare too.

So there you have it, my first blatant product recommendation since starting this blog more than four months ago.

I’ve added this to my Resources page, which I’ll continue to update as I post more of these reviews of tried and tested baby gear.

Have you had challenges finding the right sippy cup for your kid? Have you used the Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Sippy Cup for your child? How did you find it performed for you?

Let me know by leaving a comment below, sending an email to, or by connecting on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Also remember to check out the info below on our Random Pile o’ Recipes Reduction Project!

Until next Saturday, thanks for reading!

Frugal Father


Random Pile o’ Recipes Reduction Project

Last week’s recipe: Baked Cabbage Roll Skillet Supper

I planned on making this on Thursday night, but things got derailed. I’ll be making it for dinner tonight and will update this section with a brief review as soon as I can after we eat it.

UPDATE: We had this on Saturday and really enjoyed it! It’s basically cabbage rolls, except instead of the roll being the starting point of your meal, you jump straight to the dish being ready to eat with no cutting required. The recipe is pretty straight forward and definitely cost-effective, both big plusses in our house. The end result was delicious and we had plenty of leftovers for lunch on Sunday. There is a fair bit of prep involved and attention required though, so it loses some points there. I chopped the cabbage and onions the night before to speed things up at cooking time, but had to park myself in front of the stove for the bulk of the cooking instead of being able to play with the kids.

Final verdict: file it in the keeper binder!

This week’s selection: Margherita Penne