Find Yourself Blasting the Kids Out of Bed in the Morning?
Maybe you’ve tried the old techniques your parents used–I know I have–where waking up is about avoiding trouble. It usually starts with “It’s blankety-blank time already! You’ve got to get up…NOW!” For me personally, there was no stronger deterrent to facing the day than starting off in the doghouse.
Then you’ve done the obvious—you’ve turned on all of the lights and pulled back the shades. You’ve wheedled, even begged, but your kid just snuggles further into the covers.
Ok, so just plain kindness isn’t going to cut it. Here are some other ideas for you:
SET UP AN INTRINSIC REWARD *WITH YOUR KID* AND PUT IT IN A LIST
An intrinsic reward is something that you do for your own personal enjoyment or sense of accomplishment. It is a lovely thing. Sit down with your child and make a list of reasons why getting up early can personally benefit her. It can be as long as ten or as short as one reason—the more compelling it is for the child, the better. This list can help her feel more in control of herself and her morning–that she’s not getting up earlier just to comply with her parents.
While You’re at it, Set Up an Intrinsic Reward for You
Are there other reasons why you want to get up early besides making sure your child shows up on time? What can you do for yourself first thing in the morning? Is there a special project that’s hard to find time for during your usual day? This is not a “should” thing. Is there a favorite coffee or pastry you can indulge in to start off your day? The more enjoyable this activity is for you, the more likely you will get an earlier start.
The National Sleep Center suggests keeping the TV or computer in a room other than the bedroom, this way the bedroom is only associated with analog activities and the thought of sleep.
Set Two Alarms
Think of it as an alarm clock on both ends–one for bedtime and one for getting up—
Figure out the time you’d like him to be asleep. Write it down, post it on the bathroom medicine cabinet…however you can keep it clear in your mind. The more concrete and realistic your goal is, the better chance you have of accomplishing it.
Once you’ve got that ideal bedtime, practice setting an alarm or reminder for 1 hour before.
This is a coming-in-for-a-landing time. Time to slow down, turn off devices and get ready for the next day. Stop TV watching, computer or cellphone use. The light coming from these screens interrupts the release of melatonin, a necessary harmone for sleep.**
If she must be in front of a screen shortly before bed, plan on dimming the screen as much as possible, or even better, use a program like f.lux*** that will automatically block the blue light coming from your device, making the screen look less like daylight and more like your indoor lights.
The Night Before, Establish a 5 Minute Quiet Time
It eases the feeling that you are “rushing to bed.” which is a lot like speeding to get to yoga class. It gives the brain a chance to unwind before the lights go out. Make sure there is a comfortable place for both of you to sit. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Here are a Few Tools to Help Create Calm
- A SHORT BODY SCAN MEDITATION: A 5-10 minute kid-friendly body scan meditation is a great way to both relax and regulate the system. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ks_6HRaWUg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIC-Io441v4 Once find a few you like, you can download them to your device.
- OTHER BRIEF MEDITATIONS Other recorded meditations for children are available on audible.com: https://www.audible.com/pd/Bedtime-Meditations-for-Kids-Audiobook/B002V5BCYU.
- BOOKS–EVEN FOR OLDER KIDS A wealth of one-page, gender-specific biographies for older children and tweens can be found in these two books: for girls-https://coolmompicks.com/blog/2016/04/28/good-night-stories-rebel-girls-kickstarter/
GOOD MORNING! THE HOUR HAS COME
Start an interesting conversation by talking about something he likes.
I try to stay away from the “have-tos.” We all know them. They are always around, lurking in a nearby corner. Here are a few ideas about what to say instead:
- Talk about something fun you’ll be doing this weekend/after school together.
- Ask him about a project he’s doing that’s fun for him (even if you think it’s a bore).
- Talk about her favorite movie/video game character and which one you like best.
- Ask him if he wants to help you do a preferred activity, like pour cereal or help make eggs.
Get Ready to Play
Put aside 10 minutes to play. Set a timer. This one has helped the overall morning mood in our household immeasurably. No matter what the age, everyone likes to play. This activity could be from their Fun Things To Do List– something that truly pleases your child:
- If they are small enough and it won’t kill your back, offer a piggy-back ride out of bed.
- Set up a fun race. (“Beat you to the kitchen! Are you ready? I’ll give you a head start.”)
- Turn on fun music you both like–something light and playful.
- Set 15 minutes aside for playing together.
- Does she like to draw? Play music? Read? Jump on a Trampoline? It’s his personal choice, and if you are involved, even just a little bit, it’s a great bonus.
It’s a process. If you and/or your kids aren’t used to waking up early (as we aren’t), know there will be harder days and easier days. Expecting some set-backs and slip-ups will make it more tolerable. Forge on, forgive yourself for the mistakes and you will make progress towards rising earlier! Remember your “failures” are part of change.
* “Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.” (Coon & Mitterer, 2010)
** Information from National Sleep Foundation