The alarm goes off, and a new morning has begun. You get out of bed, then head down the hall to get your child up. Several minutes pass and nothing.
So you return to his room and try again, and again. As the minutes tick by, and he still hasn’t gotten out of bed, you resort to tearing the sheets off, and yelling at him to hurry up or he’ll be late to school while he is yelling at you to leave him alone. The screaming match has begun, and your day has basically begun heading downhill at 6 am. And you still have to get him dressed, fed and on the bus!
If this scenario resembles your morning routine, know that you are not alone. Parents across the nation are dealing with the same thing as you and are searching for solutions. Below are several suggestions for stopping the morning madness before it begins.
- Set An Appropriate Bedtime
- Get Ready for Tomorrow, Tonight
- Unplug and Unwind
- Be Organized Yourself
- Let The Light In
- Find An Effective Waking Technique
I cannot stress the importance of this enough, every child needs a routine. Your child should be able to expect what will happen and when. Doing things in the order they are used to doing them will keep your child focused, and help reduce resistance.
Begin by getting your child involved in the planning of the routine. Ask them exactly what they need to do to get ready, and how they think they should do it. Make sure they think about waking up, making their bed, getting dressed, eating, brushing their teeth and hair, etc. Basically, you want to have them walk through each and everything they will need to do to be ready to walk out the door. Then figure out how much time they will need to do all of this, and set an appropriate wake-up time. Once you have established the morning routine, stick with it.
It is extremely important that your child is getting enough sleep. You can find out if they are by evaluating your child’s sleep schedule. Don’t be surprised if you find they are not getting enough sleep, because most children aren’t.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, babies and toddlers need 12 hours; preschoolers need up to 13 hours; kids ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours; and children ages 10 to 18 need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night. If your child isn’t getting this much, more than likely they need to in order to get up and get moving (without being cranky, would be nice, too!). Adjust their bedtime accordingly.
After dinner and homework, have your child go ahead and pack their book bag for the next day. Then have them pick out and lay out the clothes they are going to wear. Make sure they double-check that they have everything they are going to need to be ready to go. Doing this at night means less to do during the morning, which equals less fuss and rush.
Unless your child absolutely needs to shower in the morning, have them take their bath or shower about 1.5 hours before bedtime. Not only will this save even more time, it will also help them ti start relaxing for bedtime. When they get out, have them go ahead and into their comfortable pajamas. Make this an evening routine.
About 30 minutes before bedtime, get your child to begin to winding down. Have them turn off the technology: no phones, tablets, computers, iPods or TV. Use the half hour for quiet and relaxing activities to help them unwind and begin preparing for sleep. Consider doing some yoga or light stretching together, or let them go ahead and get into bed and read for that half hour.
Just as it is important for your kids to have a morning routine, it is for you too. Make part of your routine being up at least an hour before your kids. If you work outside the home, use this time to get ready for work so you are not having to struggle to get everyone ready at the same time. Make a point of having your kids lunches prepared the night before, so there is one less thing for you to worry about. Doing all of this will give you that extra time you may need for when the unexpected occurs, as well as time to get those kids up!
About ten to fifteen minutes before it is time for the kids to get up, open up the curtains and flip on the light in their room. Light tells the body it is time to get up. Plus, the brighter the room, the more organic your child’s transition from sleep time to wake-up time will be. During winter when there is naturally less light, consider getting a natural wake up light alarm clock which uses a gradually brightening light to enable a smooth transition from sleep to waking.
However much you prepare, waking your kids up may still be difficult, especially if they are not used to the routine yet. Try a variety of waking techniques to see what works best. Perhaps an alarm clock is most effective. Or maybe a gentle shake on the shoulder and the words “It’s time to get up”.
You could also try saying their name, and mention something specific or exciting that is happening that day at school or afterward. Turn on the radio or television to provide enough noise to distract them from going back to sleep. Tell them breakfast will be on the table in 15 minutes. Eventually, you will figure out what works best for your child to get them up and going.