Morning is undoubtedly everyone’s least favorite part of the day. After all, the bed is warm and comfortable, that stupid alarm clock makes a dreadful sound, the eyes do not easily adjust to light, and the body’s melatonin levels, the hormone that controls the human circadian rhythm, take some time to drop down.
Mornings are especially difficult for teenagers and children who need more sleep than most people. According to kidshealth.org, school-age children and pre-teens need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night (All About Sleep).
Here are some tips to start the day right for you and your kids:
- Set a firm bedtime for each of your children. Sure, it’s easier to set a general bedtime for the household, but if you have children of different ages, each one will need to go to bed at a different time. For example, if your eight-year-old needs to wake up at 7 a.m. his bedtime should be between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. If your fifteen-year-old wakes up at 6:30 a.m. his bedtime should be between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. You should be going to bed after your children because adults naturally need less sleep. This will allow you time to prepare for the next morning i.e., making lunches, planning breakfast, gathering/organizing school bags, picking out clothes, etc. (Tip: Set a bedtime for yourself too. It’s easier to get your kids out of bed in the morning when you have a good night’s rest.)
- Establish quiet hours before bedtime. This will help calm the children and bring a peaceful atmosphere into the home. It will also help if your children have different bedtimes because you won’t have to worry about your other children waking an early sleeper.
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Do not let your child go to sleep with the television on, and ask them to leave their cell phones and other PDAs in the living area. According to Jeanie Lerche Davis, author of “Good Sleep: Can It Still Be Simple?”, your body goes through four 90-minute stages throughout the night, and if your body goes through a couple of cycles each night, then you have had a good night’s sleep (Good Sleep). Electronics can disrupt a person’s sleep cycle and may never allow him to reach all four stages of sleep leaving him groggy and grumpy in the mornings.
- Wake up at least 30 minutes before your children. This time should be viewed as “alone” time for you, or you and your spouse, to prepare for the day. (Tip: You can use this time catching up on the news, preparing breakfast, making lunches, signing those endless school forms, or you can use this time to fulfill your physical, emotional, or spiritual needs such as practicing some yoga moves or simple stretching, writing in your journal or catching up on a friend’s blog, or reading the scriptures or performing other types of religious or spiritual practices.)
- Wake your children up in a very calm manner (the aforementioned should prepare you for that). Do not use the old water-in-the-face method (or any other shocking methods for that matter) of waking them up. This practice will only make their mornings even more dreadful.
- Always, always eat breakfast! And if you can, eat it together. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it can also become something your children look forward to when waking up. Of course, not everyone has time to make a gourmet breakfast each morning, but as long as you are putting something healthy and filling in your kid’s stomachs each morning then you’re golden. (Tip: An apple gives more energy to a person than a cup of coffee because it contains a sugar that releases slowly over time instead of as a quick jolt. Does an apple have more caffeine than coffee?)