That’s the sound of my daughter’s annoying and steadily escalating alarm clock NOT being turned off. Some mornings, I race down the hall to shut it off before it wakes her younger brother. Her bedroom is the furthest from ours, so when I say race, I mean ice skate down the wood floors in my warm, fuzzy socks so my running thuds don’t also wake my snoozing son. Other mornings, I lay exhausted in my bed, eyes half open, wondering how long it’ll take before she takes action. And let’s be honest; there are also those mornings in which I pretend to sleep through it so my husband will handle it. Either way, once I enter her untidy chamber, the image is always the same: she is curled up with her legs under her body, her head tucked into her knees, her hands over her ears and her hair sprawled upside down. I understand, child. This is what I want to do when my…I mean your…alarm clock goes off too. But we can’t! The day awaits! The sun is rising! The school bus will be here shortly! Get up!
I totally get that she’s only in kindergarten and this early to rise thing is all new to her. I feel her pain and exhaustion. I’m not a morning person either. I lucked out with her older sister because she is wired differently and likes waking up early. That one actually sets her alarm earlier than needed just for the fun of it. Who does that?! I’ve not once had to wake her up for school this year. But Lord have mercy if her sister isn’t the exact opposite, as sisters tend to be.
It all goes downhill from there until the bus arrives, causing tears and hushed yells and “hurry ups!”
Even though clothes were picked out the night before, there is always an issue with pants — ALWAYS! I never knew pants could cause such drama and trauma. I’m not even trying to put rough jeans on her; I’m talking leggings and sweatpants! And I’ve learned to not put socks on first with that one. I will have to reverse my steps if I make that mistake. Have you noticed I’m the one putting her clothes on? If I left it to her, she’d still be half naked when the bus arrives.
Next is hair brushing. I usually let her handle this one because I don’t want to hear the yelps with each tangle. Once she picks out her chosen headband for the day, we finally head downstairs. At this point, I ask her what she wants for breakfast, but I don’t actually prepare it until she has gone to the bathroom. The reason I don’t get it ready is because sometimes the simple act of peeing and washing hands takes this child 15 minutes, at which point breakfast is no longer an option. Lastly, she brushes her teeth, for which she heads back upstairs. The amount of time she spends “brushing her teeth” is absurd. I have sat in her bathroom watching her to move her along and I now see why something that should take as long as singing the alphabet takes her seven minutes. First she has to make faces in the mirror and then practice a song. And she can’t forget to check the rubber brain sitting in a cup of water in the cabinet under the sink to see how big it has grown! After the actual five-second teeth-brushing, she rinses off the toothbrush, shakes it furiously allowing her germs to splash all across the bathroom and then blows on the bristles as though her toothbrush has its own personal blow dryer. At this point, she runs downstairs and then we are still faced with shoes, coat, hat, mask and bookbag before we push her outside to the waiting bus, yelling, “Go, go, go!” like she’s coming up behind the 1st place runner in the Olympics. Deep breath.
If you have a sleepyhead on your hands, hopefully these suggestions can help you too:
*Have the child sleep in the clothes that they will wear to school the next day (unless it’s a special day like fall pictures or book character day). This removes one whole step in the morning!
*If sticker charts or bribes work for your kids, try this: so many days in a row of stickers and they get a special treat or bribing with extra screen time. Unfortunately, these don’t work with my middle child.
*Changing the order of how mornings are handled. If breakfast is usually first and they dawdle, make them get dressed and brush hair before they get to eat.
*Change the scenery. Let them get dressed in your bedroom. Let them style their hair in your bathroom. Let them brush their teeth in the kitchen.
*If transportation can be altered, choose the later option. Skip the early bus if you’re able to drive them and are willing to sit in car lines.
*If they’re a bit older, let them fail. Make them go to school in their pjs and with nasty breath and disheveled hair. The embarrassment may give them the kick they need to get up the rest of the year!
*If they don’t like being dropped off by a parent, let them miss the bus so they’re stuck rolling up to school with the embarrassing mom or dad. Crank up the radio and sing out your windows for added effect.
*Sit them down and talk it out. Ask them what they think will help. Try their suggestions.
*Offer a special solo date out with the child if they can get up and ready on time for a whole week or ten straight school days.
*Some kids are extremely worried about their teachers knowing about misbehavior at home. You could threaten to tell their teacher about your morning struggles or even work with your child’s teacher and they could mention something about it at school to them.
*Let your kid know you have a special breakfast waiting. This may wake them up extra quickly and they get donuts or a pastry out of it.
*Bang pots and pans, run the vacuum, turn on lights. Not the nicest way, but they won’t be able to sleep.
*If time allows, do the same things at the same time. Get dressed at the same time, do hair at the same time, eat together, brush teeth together, etc. Make each activity a race!
*Wake them up extra early.
*Start bedtime sooner.
*Buy a special alarm clock that slowly wakes them up or incorporates a timer. Just type in sleep trainer alarm clock on Amazon and you’ll get more choices than you need.
*If your child showers in the morning and takes too long, tell them they have so many songs before the shower needs to be turned off. Just don’t let Taylor Swift’s new 10-minute crooner be one of them!
*Incorporate these six different sand timers. They all account for different amounts of time (i.e. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc.) and you can use the best one for each activity.
*Ask a bunch of simple questions right when they wake up like, “Do you want cereal or waffles for breakfast?” or “Do you want me to pick up any snacks if I go to the store?” It gets their mind moving without having to think too hard.