Getting kids out of bed in the morning is never easy, and with the recent transition from holiday vacation back to school—not to mention frosty mornings that make cozy blankets all the more tempting—it may be harder than ever this time of year. As lazy mornings eating pancakes in PJ’s are replaced by buzzing alarm clocks, blankets pulled tight over sleepy heads, and frantic searches misplaced homework assignments, parents across the nation are faced with the perennial question: how do I get my kid out of bed in the morning?
First, rest assured that you’re not alone. This is a nearly universal phenomenon, and has roots in biology. One cross-sectional study found that nearly 50% of 6th-8th graders have difficulty waking in the morning, and the National Sleep Foundation notes that though teens need around 9 hours of sleep each night, natural shifts in their circadian rhythms make it difficult for them to hit the hay before 11PM.
That means the odds are stacked against the poor parent tasked with the job of seeing their student out the door on time in the morning. The task is difficult, but not impossible—and the tips below should help make the process a bit easier.
Wake your child earlier than you need to.
Most of us need some time to transition from a sleeping state to a waking state, and this is even more true of kids and teens. Jumping suddenly from sleep to an up-and-at-‘em state isn’t natural, and, for lots of people, not even possible. So build in a 5-10 minute margin for glassy-eyed staring into space. You know what we’re talking about.
Find an alarm alternative.
Nobody likes an alarm clock. That’s partly because of its association with too-early wake-ups, but also because of the sound itself. Make the transition to the day more peaceful by rousing your child a different way. If part of their holiday bounty included a Reverie Sleep System, they have the option of waking up to a massage or by being slowly lifted to a sitting position; if not, simply go into their room 20 minutes before wake time and open the blinds. The natural light will help their bodies begin to realize that it’s morning.
Bacon….mmm…..bacon…Your kid’s mind may be too fuzzy to form coherent thoughts upon first waking, but his nose will still be working just fine. Appeal to the animal mind by cooking up a favorite breakfast treat, preferably one whose aroma fills the house, and let the bacon—or whatever your treat of choice may be—do the talking.
Get ready the night before.
About that fuzzy morning mind we just mentioned: picking out an outfit, packing a lunch, gathering books and homework, and any other thinking-intensive tasks may be too much to tackle in the morning. Set up a routine with your child in which you pick out an outfit and pack up everything needed for school the night before. The next morning, just grab and go!
Set an earlier bedtime.
This one may be a harder sell to some older kids, but it’s possible. Explain the importance of sleep for proper brain and body performance, and start incrementally moving bedtime earlier. If your child likes to look at a phone, tablet, or computer before bed—and let’s be honest, most do—help them download a program that eliminates the blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms. Whatever nighttime ritual you and your child establish, make sure that it’s enjoyable and relaxing. Remind them that an earlier bedtime isn’t a punishment—after all, it means more time to sleep! And who doesn’t love that?
Of course kids and teens want to stay in bed. Bed is the best. But armed with bacon, bedtimes, and the other strategies above, you should be equipped to handle even the groggiest of mornings. Just as long as you can resist the temptation to stay curled up in bed yourself.
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