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Wake Up, Sleepy Head

February 5, 2020
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I’ve confessed before that I’m not a morning person. I’ve tried. Honestly. It just doesn’t work for me. I envy friends who are up at 5:30 and raring to go by 5:31. I’m not sure I’ve even got a pulse at 5:30. I’ve trained myself not to say, “I hate mornings.” People tell me it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I’ve substituted another phrase for it: Morning’s not my best time of day. Which is equally self-fulfilling-prophetic, but it doesn’t seem quite so bad. It takes about an hour for me to come to life if I get up at a reasonable hour. If I have to get up before what’s reasonable, an hour’s not enough. I’ll shuffle and stumble through and get to whatever compelled me to get up early, but probably won’t be bringing my best for a while.

Most kids are early risers when they’re young. I may have been. Can’t remember that, really. But if your kids are early risers, that means you are, too. Or your merciful spouse is… Thank you, Debbie.

Whether they’re early risers or not, morning is the other most important time of day, (bedtime’s the other) for your kids. You can set them up for their best by what you do or don’t do in those first few minutes after they get up.

I can sum up what I think is the best way to leverage this moment in one word: kindness.

If you’ve got teenagers, you’re laughing out loud. You thought I was going to say “grenade.” That’s about all that will get most normal teens out of bed. That was sure true of me. I’ll talk about a strategy for this in a few paragraphs.

For pre-teens and younger, I believe kindness is the best way to help them get their day started. Kind words. Kind tone. Even kind touches.

If they’re too young to set and manage their own alarm clock, you will probably need to wake them up if they aren’t early risers. You know the 2% who aren’t… And if you need to do this, do it with kindness. Don’t climb into bed with them, but don’t throw the covers off and command them to get up. There are lost of better ways to wake them up.

Here’s a novel idea: ASK THEM how they like to be woke up by you. There are very few times when a good question about your kids preferences and desires, asked far ahead of time isn’t a good idea. Please don’t build the whole world around your kids’ preferences. That’s not good for them or the rest of the world. But when you can, ask them what their preference is. Especially for small things like how they like to be woke up by you.

For teenagers, I recommend you get them an alarm clock, or tell them to set the alarm on their smart phone, and make them responsible to get up on their own. You’ll turn around twice and they’ll be out on their own. You don’t want to have to drive over to their place and get them up every morning…

In some homes, the TV comes on when the kids get up. I think this is a mistake. At the very least, it misses a great opportunity to do something positive and valuable for your kids. I’m not anti-TV. I like to watch TV. But I’m a believer in the idea that TV-watching first thing in the morning is a big parenting swing and a miss. Believe me, I know how tempting it is to let the TV handle the kids. They had TVs when my kids were little… But it’s not the best way for your kids to start their day.

Silence probably won’t work, either. My suggestion is to start it with some music, instead of TV. If your kids are old enough to have favorite music, play their favorite music. Unless it’s satanic head-banging, I’d probably say play it, even if it’s not “Christian music.” It would be great if they liked Mozart, but the odds don’t favor that. If music isn’t your kids’ thing, don’t worry about it. But if they like music, leverage it.

I’m not a nutritionist, but even I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you grab a cookie bar on the way out of the house, you’re probably cheating yourself and your kids out of nutrition that will help you and them be able to do their and your best. Protein is essential. Usually, that means you’ll have to plan well in order to put a balanced, nutritious breakfast out for your kids. You can figure this out and plan for it.

Breakfast can be a chaotic madhouse, though. Especially if you’re late. At that point, everything is wonky. Including your nerves and patience. Usually, the harder you press to get your kids to hurry, the slower they go. And the “hurrieder” you go, the “behinder” you get. Being late is going to happen. We live in a fallen world. Just do your best to navigate those mornings with grace. Take as many deep breaths as you need, and give yourself permission to not do it perfectly.

But you can do a few things that will minimize these late morning catastrophes. At the top of this list is GET UP ON TIME. Believe it or not, that hangs on the night before more than anything else. So set your alarm if you need to (I do), and then get up when it goes off.

Second thing: BUILD A MORNING ROUTINE. Pretty much everything I wrote about bedtime routine applies to your morning routine, except your starting, not ending the day. Because you’re the parent, you get to set the routine. Think it through and then build a routine. When it needs adjustment, adjust it. But get a routine started.

What you say to your kids, and how you say it to them are huge. If you harp on what your kids didn’t do (which is actually a form of punishment) at breakfast, guess what you set up as the tone for their day. Not positive. Right. Believe me, in very rare cases only, there’s no good reason to begin the day with some form of demand and criticism about something your kids didn’t do earlier. There are plenty of other times to do that.

I’m not big on making breakfast a church service, but I think a scripture read out loud is a good thing to include in your breakfast routine. And so is simple prayers. When a Dad and/or Mom says a simple prayer of blessing over their kids, something really good happens in heaven and on earth. God loves to hear us pray for our kids. And our kids love to hear us pray blessing for them. Just a suggestion. Praying for and with your kids is good every time you can do it. It’s a great habit to build into your morning routine.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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