The most infuriating, sporadically-effective sleep aid you can buy
I’ve heard tell of some parents who won’t use baby Nurofen. There’s a rumour doing the rounds that others haven’t discovered the Tangle Teezer. But there surely can’t be a parent around who struggles on without a Gro-clock, can there? Is there?
This curvaceous, moon-faced lump of white plastic promises the earth: a lie-in. Keeping watch over your child, it casts its voodoo spell during the hours you seriously don’t want to be awake. Child X lies in bed, one eye on the disappearing stars, before being released at a moment of your choosing to run into your bedroom shrieking,
“THE SUN’S COME UP!”
And because it’s civilised o’clock, you don’t mind; you race each other downstairs to have breakfast in the sunshine while you discuss the high jinx you’re planning.
And you know what, it works. Sometimes. With some children. Until it stops working and it becomes an over-priced night light.
But if that sounds like a less-than-ringing endorsement, you’re reading it wrong, because how much is a lie-in worth to you? A quid? A fiver? A tenner? I bet you’d pay £10 to sleep in until 7am, especially if you usually get a toddler in the goolies around 5.30am.
So for £20, you get a clock that may deliver you multiple lie-ins. BARGAIN.
And it works because, like so many other parenting tricks, it externalises the rules. Want to get something done? Put a timer on it (‘The alarm means you must do it!’). Want things done, or undone? Write it up, shove it on the fridge (‘Look, it says there you have to do it!’). Kids forget instantly that you made the rules, and – insultingly – are more likely to obey a silicon chip encased in plastic than you. Go with it.
But jeez, just because it works doesn’t mean you have to love it. In fact I loathe it with a passion equalled only by the news that it’s my turn to supervise homework. Here’s the charge sheet:
- There’s no battery, so every time you go away – assuming you remember it – you have to reset the clock. And find a power socket, before realising you forgot the adaptor.
- The base is way too narrow, so it falls over all the time.
- The storybook that comes with it is so atrocious it hurts.
- It’s from an innovative, UK-based company that brought us the Gro-bag, since ripped off by every retailer throughout the land. When your child sleeps through, cosy and warm, you have them to thank. They know kids, but this product feels like the cash cow they’re loathe to spend any money improving.
- Above all, let’s talk about the the user interface (to grace the three feel-bad buttons with a name they don’t deserve). It’s awful. It’s illogical. It’s child-proof, but only because it’s people-proof. The way you use it as follows: stab blindly at the buttons in any order until, like a monkey with time on his hands, you get the desired result. Repeat nightly.
- Apparently you can set different weekday and weekend wake-up times, which is a concept as foreign to my children as a cleanly wiped bottom.
As you can see, I detest my Gro-clock with a passion. It’s a brilliant idea, but a half-arsed product. But if you want it? You’ll need to prise it from my cold, dead hands.
Feel the same? Or is sleep deprivation taking its toll on this author (newborns being strangely unreceptive to the sleep rules)? Or is there a better product we’re missing?