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Keeping the Kids in the Dark
Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind
Member Name: Hishyeness
Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind
Advantages: Fully portable, thoughtfully designed, great at blocking light.
Disadvantages: If I am being picky, it's a little pricey at its full RRP.
Putting children to bed (I am reluctant to say "to sleep" because of the negative connotations of the phrase) can be something of a challenge at the best of times. During the winter months, when the sun sets around 5pm and doesn't rise until well after 7am, nature tends to make a parent's job easier. Darkness is conducive to sleep, but in contrast, children seem much more reluctant to go to bed (or stay in bed) when it is still light outside.
As such, during the summer, when it stays light well into the evening, if you don't have a decent set of black-out curtains or blinds, your little folk tend to get up bright eyed and bushy tailed with the dawn, and you can kiss goodbye to any pretensions of a lazy weekend lie-in. Fortunately, we have found a handy product called the "Gro Anywhere Blind" which is easy to put up and take down, fully portable, and does a stand-out job of blocking out the light.
Intrigued? Read on.
WHAT IS IT?
The Gro Anywhere Blind ("the Blind") is a light-weight 200 x 135cm black-out blind that is attached to the window by a series of suckers (four along each width, and six along each length). The evenly spaced suckers attach directly to the glass, making it extremely versatile - it will fit almost any style of window, with the only practical limitation being its size. In our experience, it is big enough to cover anything but a very large bay window, which you are unlikely to find in a box room or child's bedroom.
One side of the blind is black cloth decorated with the white stars (in outline only), and the obverse (the window-facing side) is made of black material similar to polyester, which helps repel any condensation that builds up on the window. The suckers are large and effective, but are also relatively easy to remove. The blind comes in a convenient carry case, which is fastened with plastic poppers, and a cloth strap handle.
DOES IT WORK?
In a word yes. Although it does not block out the light 100% (mainly because it is attached to the window panes directly, so light will always seep through the edges), it is highly effective at reducing the amount of daylight that penetrates the room. There is absolutely no light seepage through the material of the blind itself, which has ensured that our children now sleep for much longer.
It is very easy to install. Make sure the glass is clean, moisten the suckers and, starting from the top right hand corner of the window, attach the suckers along the top, and then down the sides and bottom. The blind has a series of easy-to-use vertical and horizontal straps built into the window facing side which allow you to adjust for height and length. In the last eight months of use, none of the suckers have come off unless we removed them ourselves, and as such, the blind has never fallen down. That said, for safety reasons, the instructions do warn you not to put it on a window that is directly over a cot or bed.
We initially bought the blind as a short term solution, but have found ourselves leaving it in place year-round, and folding it up or across half-way during the day. Although not ideal, it works for us (i.e. the room is quite bright with half a window covered) but if you are looking for a fully retractable solution, this is probably a bit too inconvenient, as you'd have to install it and remove every day. To be fair to the makers, it is intended as a take anywhere, portable solution, and we have used it as such quite successfully, especially at the grandparents.
WHO MAKES IT?
The Blind is made by a UK-based company called The Gro Company - which will be more familiar to most parents as the makers of the "Grobag" - a sleep bag for infants and small children. The company has been going from strength to strength since being founded by Rob and Ouvrielle Holmes in early 2000 and they now carry a much wider range of practical baby-related products. More details about the company can be found at http://www.gro.co.uk.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
The product retails for £29.99 but is currently available on various baby-product e-tailers for around £25.00. The cheapest source at the time of writing (Jan 2010) is Amazon.co.uk where it going for a discounted £23.95 with free delivery. You can buy direct from Gro, but at full RRP plus £4.00 delivery, it's the most expensive option.
This is a useful, practical and effective product that has made getting our kids to sleep (especially our five year old) much easier. Build quality and durability are excellent and it is clear the product has been designed and manufactured with portability in mind (the carry-bag is a particularly nice touch). Although it seems expensive at first blush, at around £25 it represents good value for a quality product.
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: A great portable solution for helping get kids off to sleep.
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