Let’s face it. For many families, getting up in the morning and ready for school and work is often the same stressful experience, day after day. Although some children can just jump out of bed and get moving, most children need prodding. Lots and lots of prodding. And in many households, parents do not have the luxury of spending a lot of time getting their children physically up. Nor should they have to.
There are strategies that parents can try to help the morning routine be a little less painful:
#1 – Prepare the Night Before
The less we need to remember in the morning, the better. The more organized a family can be before the morning chaos begins, the smoother the morning will run. It’s a great habit for children and parents alike to ensure that lunches are made, water bottles are filled, backpacks are packed and by the door, homework is completed, permission forms and tests are signed, and clothes are taken out the night before.
#2 – Get Enough Sleep
Like many adults, many kids have trouble falling asleep. They either have trouble settling down, or they feel the need to talk endlessly about their day just when it is time for lights out.
Falling asleep is also difficult for teens who biologically have a very difficult time getting to sleep before 11 PM.
Whatever the case may be, all children are different. Even within the same household, the rules around sleep routine and bedtime can vary significantly between children. If children have trouble getting up in the morning, their bedtime needs to be adjusted, at least until they can handle being able to fully function on less sleep.
#3 – Hand Over the Responsibility Torch
By about 8 years of age, (and for some children, even younger) children have the capacity to get themselves up and completely ready on their own. Parents need to stop taking responsibility for getting their kids out of bed on time. If children are completely dependent on their parents to wake them, how will they ever learn to do this themselves?
We need to hand over the responsibility of getting up and out of bed back to our children. Younger children can be woken up by their parents. Older children (about 11 years of age), should be setting their own alarm clocks and getting up on their own.
Children need to be given the clear message that if they do not get themselves ready, or if they get to school late, they will suffer the consequences…detention? Less time to write a test? Embarrassment walking into class late and disrupting the lesson?
If children are still too young for these types of consequences, they can be assigned extra chores at home to make up for the time parents lose trying to motivate them.
Parents can also remind their children that if they are not out of the house on time, then they too will be late for work. Often, kids are motivated when the consequences affect more than just themselves.
#4 – Break Down Responsibilities into Manageable Parts
Even if they are out of bed on time, some children become overwhelmed with everything they need to do.
In our home, for my two younger children, we have created a checklist (with accompanying pictures) that we leave on their mirror. They can refer to if they are unsure what the next task is…. brush teeth, comb hair, put dirty laundry in the bin, check with Mom or Dad that their clothes are weather appropriate, turn off the lights when leaving the room, etc. All this, accompanied with some cool tunes blaring from the iPod, helps them get the mojo going.
Do these checklists always work? Absolutely not. But they do provide a reference for children and give them a sense of their responsibilities.
Many parents can attest that getting their children out of bed can be tough. Kids need to be motivated. Some children are harder to motivate than others. If our children get their responsibilities completed first, they receive praise, and are rewarded with extra time for TV, more cuddles, a few extra bucks in their pocket, and most importantly, trust and respect from their parents.
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