I am broken. I admit it. Sleep deprivation has finally won and technology has failed me. This is a dark day as a the "freelance writer who gets tech".
This post also contains a lot of swears because I'm too tired to come up with a nice, fluffy alternative. You have been warned.
So, I have two wonderful, rather lively children. Before I entered parenthood I was excited about a lot of things, but the gadgets sounded rather fantastic.
There were gizmos that would teach my children to eat, sleep, poop and play on demand. Images of babies being weaning surrounded by reams of white linen by a fresh-faced Mother entered my psyche and I assumed this would be the world I would create.
The b@**@*ds lied.
I am now about to enter into a productive rant about one piece of technology in particular: the Gro clock. This is my sole opinion and, in the name of objectivity, I have several friends who use and love the clock. Their children sleep. Lucky, lucky b@**@*ds.
I bought the Gro clock when my first son was 18 months old. The manufacturer says the clock "uses fun images of the stars and sun to communicate when to go back to sleep and when it's time to get up". Simply put, when the clock displays a sun image, it's time to get up. If it displays a star image, it's sleepy time. The manufacturer has never met my sons: Oliver (aka the Gro-clock-hacker) and Arlo (aka the Gro-clock-destroyer). We have had a variety of run-ins with the Gro clock over the years.
At 18 months, Oliver seemed too young for the Gro clock but, after six months of being woken at 4am, I thought I knew better and we tried the clock.
Oliver responded by screaming at the clock and (I can only assume through a complex system of levers and pulleys as the bloody thing was on the other side of the room from his cot), threw it against the wall.
At 2 years old, we tried to reintroduce the clock. After 14 months of being woken at 4am, tempers were a little frayed. Oliver was now in a big bed and his little brother was on the way. This pregnant Momma needed some sleep.
Oliver responded by climbing out of bed and turning the sun image on all by himself. He then gleefully announced the sun was up! It was 3am.
The clock is fitted with a lock to prevent children achieving this. We turned the lock on. At 2 years and one month, Oliver could turn off the child lock and make the sun appear whenever he liked. He also worked out a month later how to reprogram the clock's time entirely. (A small part of me was quietly impressed with his aptitude for technology though).
The sleepless months rolled by and we welcomed Arlo to the family. Our easier second child. Easier?
The b@**@*ds lied again.
I'm going to skip forward a few months (mainly because I need another coffee and want to finish this rant as quickly as possible). Oliver and Arlo share a room. Arlo is a worse sleeper than Oliver. Arlo is also louder than Oliver.
The Gro clock is back in the room. Oliver has now accepted it and stays in bed until the sun comes up at 6am (note: to any non-parents, this is a lie-in).
Arlo is less fond of the clock. Yesterday, at the glorious hour of 3:30am, I walked in to find the clock under a heap of toys that Arlo had hurled at the clock from his cot. I took my bundle of joy out of the cot and talked quietly about the clock, showing him the star's smug-non-sleep-inducing face.
Arlo picked up the clock and hit me round the head with it.
Arlo has also managed to wee on the clock, kick it down a flight of stairs and put it down the toilet. The boy ain't a fan.
But I would like to write a small reprise for the Gro clock. I don't think the clock has failed me, I think my sons have broken the Gro clock and the entire system it represents (you know, the system where we sleep uninterrupted for 8 hours at night).
We have also tried various other techniques to get our sons to sleep but all else fails. And Oliver does now respond to the clock and only occasionally reprograms it to get up at 4:30am. The Gro clock isn't at fault, my children's body clocks are.
So what's the alternative? Have you read this enter blog post hoping I will share some secret success and that my children now sleep through? Sorry. No happy, sleep-filled ending here.
We are still getting up at an average of 4:30am every morning.
But the Gro clock has taught me one small moral. No gadget will ever teach your children to eat, sleep, poop or play on demand. These creatures are unprogrammable, crazy little beings. They even break the laws of relativity - the faster they move, the faster time with them seems to go.
So I am dumping all this technology and its empty promises to focus on my mad men. It's knackering, but they're the best gadgets I've ever played with.
UPDATE: 5th February 2017
OK, I think I need to make an apology here. I brought the Gro clock back into our lives a couple of months ago.
Things have changed.
It sits in the hallway between my boys' rooms (now aged five and three) and....wait for it.... THEY GET UP WHEN THE SUN GETS UP.
People, this is a modern day miracle. I'll be ringing the Vatican shortly after finishing this update.
The secret to this success? I'm afraid it's not a quick fix.
The boys have grown up. The synapses in their crazy brains are connecting to understand this basic concept. THEY GET UP WHEN THE SUN GETS UP.
So, Gro clock - I apologise. I introduced you far too early. I'm a victim of the biggest parenting fail we all fall foul to: I tried to push my kids when they weren't ready.
Now, excuse me while I Snapchat Pope Francis.
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I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology