Q&A: Morning Wake-Up HELP!

Occasionally, readers write with questions that I know others might be able to add to or benefit from. Today we’re talking about morning wake-up help and how to get kids ready and out the door.

Q. I am hoping that you can help me (and possibly other readers as well) find some ideas for getting my 5 year old out of bed and dressed in the morning. As much as I wish it were otherwise, I have to wake her up around 6am. Every morning its a struggle and it often takes 30 to 45 minutes to get her up. I’ve even resorted to waking her up earlier (5:45am) to allow for this. It still doesn’t help much. I am late to work nearly every day. My boss has not said anything to me at this
point, but it certainly isn’t healthy for my career. In the fall, my daughter will start Kindergarten and the time crunch will be even more important so she won’t miss the bus.

Getting out of bed isn’t even the only problem. Having her get dressed in a timely fashion takes nearly as long!

I have tried punishments – doesn’t work. I’ve tried incentives – works for a short period of time only.

I’m just about at my wits end. Can you or your readers supply any ideas for helping my sleepy girl get going in the morning?

Thanks so much,
Sara

A. Hi Sara,

While I don’t often have the same challenge you do since we homeschool, there are mornings when I need to get the crew “up and at ‘em” at an early hour to drive to a class, doctor’s appointment, field trip, or test. I can certainly understand your struggle and can assure you that you are not alone. I know there are plenty of moms in the same boat with us.

When I know that we need to get going early, my preparation begins the night before. I have the kids pack their backpacks, lay out their clothes, and put their shoes and bags by the door. We also try to make sure the house is relatively tidy before we go to bed that night because messes slow us down tremendously. I also pack lunches the night before AND make breakfast. Even something as simple as setting out bowls, spoons, cups, and cereal boxes seems to save time in the morning.

As for physically waking kiddos up, I try to make sure that they go to bed early so that they are getting enough sleep and feeling rested when they do wake up. And, truth be told, some of my boys prefer to sleep in their (clean) clothes so that they don’t have to mess with getting dressed on a busy morning. They literally roll out of bed ready for the day.

Well, there is the wet comb to deal with the bed head, but you get my drift.

These are things that work for our family to get up and out the door in time for classes and appointments. However, that doesn’t mean we/I always do them. In fact just yesterday we needed to get on the road by 8 and there was a fair amount of hustle, bustle, and smoke coming out Mama’s ears. We can have great plans and things still not turn out the way they should.

These tips certainly don’t address any deeper issues like if your daughter is willfully disobeying. But, my guess is that if she’s got adequate sleep and her stuff all laid out for her, then it should be a little easier. But, I myself had a kid who stayed in bed (awake) for 45 minutes while I was getting ready because he just didn’t want to go with the plan. I feel your pain.

One thing that I’ve realized with my younger kids is that they still need help sometimes when I think they should be able to do it on their own. So, perhaps you can help her get ready or invite her to get ready in your room while you get ready for the day. A little companionship could go a long way.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. But, please know I wouldn’t want you to do it “my way” just ’cause. I hope that you can discover what’s best for you and your daughter.

Dear Readers, it’s your turn.

What helps your kids get ready for the morning?

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Comments

  1. I think a lot of (most) people underestimate how much sleep kids need. A five year old still needs 10-11 hours a night. (I know, that means a very early bedtime!). Does she sometimes crash really early? Fall asleep in the car a lot? Those are some other signs that she just might not be getting enough rest — not a behavior issue at all. Good luck!

    • That is what I was going to say. There are websites that will list recommended hours of sleep for people of all ages. Also, I know of a child who would get up after his parents went to bed and he’d play. They parents found out b/c of the child’s sibling. Those are things I’d check for first.

  2. I really have no advice to offer, sorry, but I do think it’s important to remember that some are morning people, whereas others are not (me? Up and at ‘em, it’s the start of a beautiful day) … Sonny Boy would roll out at 5am for school no problem, whereas Princess? Ummm, she’s jokingly referred to as our Ray of Sunshine, 90% stormy in the morning. Seriously, defiant and difficult at an early hour. Even at 19 and 21, we still see the SAME pattern when they wake up as when they were young (5 or so) … so I have NOTHING to offer :) Just that they know it’s important to get up and move so as not to be late …

  3. My 5 year old son has a hard time getting up every morning. Mornings are not his thing. So I srarted putting in a movie in the morning I let him watch it while I get things around. Then I will get him dressed. Then breakfast. Put on shoes, coat and wait for the bus. We do this evey morning for school. Then on friday night I let him know his reward is sleeping in on Saturday. This works for me. I hope this helps you.

  4. Lea Stormhammer says:

    I’m in the same boat as Jan – one early riser and one late sleeper. Fortunately, we don’t have to get up that early!

    Still, my son usually has an hour and a half of play time before we need to get ready to leave (yep, he’s up that early!), and my daughter is just rolling out of bed.

    Talk to your child – my daughter said she just feels too sleepy if she gets up earlier. And, amazingly, her teacher (1st grade) can tell when she doesn’t get enough sleep – she doesn’t learn as well and is cranky and sleepy all day. So, we make sure she gets to bed on time (they really do need 10-12 hours of sleep a night!) and I make sure she only needs to throw on clothes and her coat – I feed her dry cereal in the car. We found she functions best on about 11 hours of sleep, so she’s in bed by 830 and up at 8am (we leave at 815am). Definately not glammorous, but it works for us right now!

    Hope that’s somewhat helpful,
    Lea

  5. My sister always brought a warm washcloth to her kids when she woke them up. Sounds weird, I know. But the few times I was at her house and had to get up early with her kids (she is 19 years older than I am so her kids are my age) it was awesome. She would hand us the rags and gently tell us to wake up. Then she would sit on the side of the bed and talk to us while we wiped our faces with the warm cloth. It really worked! When I was older my mom would bring me a cup of hot tea to my bed when she woke me up. Yeah. I was spoiled. :)

  6. My eldest has autism, so we are a household replete with pecs, visual schedules, timers, and a host of myriad other behavioral supports. I used a visual checklist for getting her dressed, and it’s on my blog. http://Www.fourmeandyou.blogspot.com. Don’t have exact link, but it should be in the popular posts section on the right. I’m cuddling a sicky 20-month-old as I type, or I’d look it uo for you. Warning…my blog isn’t ss G rated as Jessica’s; I swear sometimes. ;)

    As for the trouble waking her up, I echo what everyone else says. I add this, though, is there any chance she can just go to day care in her jammies? Can they help her get dressed over there? Why not outsource the battle?

    Also, would she sleep in braids? if so, you could cut hair prep out of your morning routine. And, by all means, dry cereal in a baggie and a juice box in the car on the way until you get yourselves on an easier system.

    She’ll get there, Momma!

  7. Totally agree with the amout of sleep idea, it makes it really hard for working parents because many times they gather the children after work, get home, cook dinner and give baths and it’s already 7pm. I do know, my 5 (almost 6) year old goes to bed at 7:45 and sleeps til I wake her for school at 6:45-7 (later on the weekends). They really do need a LOT of sleep.

    As for getting them up in the moring, slow down the process a bit. Rather than trying to actively wake her for 45 minutes, go in the room 20-30 min before you want them up and turn on a small lamp in their room. Then leave and go about your morning routine, go back in about 10-15 min later and rub their back and talk a little bit. Once you’re COMPLETELY ready (if they haven’t woken themselves) go in and get them up and and help them get ready, bush teeth, etc. Make sure you can give them 100% of your effort in getting them ready, even have the car packed and ready to go. Also, if you have a bit of a drive to daycare, some snacks (breakfast) for the car would probably be a welcome treat!!

    • I was going to say something similar. My son is slow and easily distracted. Our mornings go best when I am already ready to go and can focus on following up with him. Then it only takes the necessary 15 minutes to get out the door. Prep the night before and breakfast in the car (nutri-grain type bars are good, too), also help.

  8. I will also say that kids need a lot of sleep. I get a lot of grief from others that my kids go to bed too early. My 2 year old goes to bed at 6:30 and my 7 and 9 year olds go to bed around 7:30. They have to be out of bed and functional by 6:30 am and that is the amount of recommended sleep by the professionals. They all get up realatively easily and get moving. We have a rule around our house that you have to complete your morning tasks first and any extra time is yours. My older boys can get ready really quickly if they want to watch a cartoon, play a game, or do some type of playing.

    To help my kids when they were first learning to get ready in the morning, I made a checklist for them of their routine and the order it needed to be done. Within a couple months the list wasn’t needed.

  9. I just want to say that it’s important for Mom to remember that we have all been there. Or we’ve all been in hard situations. YOU are not alone! Dont think that just because your child acts up, doesn’t follow the routine or just plain frustrates you, doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. Hang in there!!! The great thing about little kids is they grow out of these phases. Then they grow older and we wish for these “little” issues again. :)

  10. Well first off I love the warm washcloth idea

    But it does honestly sound like maybe she needs more sleep – in my house the boy gets up at the same time no matter what time he goes to sleep – his sisters not so, and they need more sleep than he does – all since birth. We are who we are :)

    That said, I would start with an earlier bedtime [and an explanation of why – not as punishment but as understanding that she must need more sleep]
    Then a series of rewards for doing well with getting up – one of which CAN be staying up later [if she can still maintain the waking up success] If you do this eventually you’ll find how much is need for sleep and how much is motivational.

    Good luck – my kids were pretty easy in all areas but sleep – still!

  11. I have a daughter that is extremely hard the wake up and the only thing that works is to set alarm clocks and timers. I take myself completely out of the morning struggle. We sat down and decided how much time she would need to do everything she needed to in the morning and then we set the alarm together. Since she is a big dilly-dallier we’ve set another alarm on my phone for about 5 minutes before we have to leave so she knows as soon as she hears that she has to finish and get her shoes & coat on. This has really worked like a charm. Sometimes her alarm will go off for 10 minutes before she gets up and I really have to resist the urge to step in and wake her up, but she’s been ready on time everyday since we’ve started doing this.

    • Similar to this, and because I realise now that it was something I should have learned 25 years before I did, we are starting to teach our just-3yo about time budgeting. Obviously at this age we can’t say ‘each step takes X minutes thus equals alarm one hour before departure’ BUT we got a countdown timer that shows an ever-decreasing amount of red over the clock face until it beeps, so she can SEE how much time she has left. You can find these on Amazon under autism support tools.
      This outsources the discomfort – YOU are not being mean, the clock is totally impartial – and perhaps if you lay it out visually the night before (along with clothes etc and that earlier bedtime) and back it up with a visual countdown timer in the morning, she’ll gradually learn about deadlines.
      I can honestly say that I needed a lot more coaching on this than I got as a child, and my mother (who bought the countdown timer for my daughter at my request) has bought a second one for my father because he can’t judge the passing of time either. We’re all sleepyheads. I don’t know if they’re related traits, but in our family they seem to be!

  12. I agree with others that kids need a lot of sleep. I was shocked when I first heard the recommended amount. I have to watch nap times with one of my kids. If she falls asleep later than 2 pm, she cannot fall asleep at bedtime, regardless of whether the nap was 10 minutes or 2 hours. She cannot get up the next morning. When my oldest was four, I let her pick out her own alarm clock to practice for school the next year. She felt so big. I also agree about having everything laid out and ready the night before. Though I would love extra sleep, I get up and ready before the kids so I can focus on getting them going. Plus, it gives me time to deal with the daily unexpected surprise of a spill, a meltdown, etc. If I’m running behind, I’m more likely to lose it when the unexpected happens. My kids (least) favorite part of the morning is my announcing how much time before we leave… Ten minutes until departure! Five minutes until departure! If they are ready early and can tell time, they get the honors of making the announcements that morning. Hang in there and keep trying new things until you find something that works for you.

  13. I was thinking the same, maybe she needs more sleep, (going to bed a bit earlier)
    both of mine are early risers, no matter what time they go to bed.(i have almost 6 yo, and 3 1/2 yo.)
    They are in bed at 7.30, and are usually up at 6am… (my husband and I are up at 5:30)

  14. lenizucchini says:

    I agree with many of the things already posted, but have one new thought to add…
    Nothing motivates my 7-year-old like a race with Daddy to see who can get ready first. After he announces that he is getting dressed first this morning and that there’s no way anyone can be quicker than him, then sauntering slowly down to the bedroom, dd giggles and races out in front of him. He is, of course, shocked every time he loses, to her delight. This has been going on for a couple of years now, and I hope it lasts a lot longer!

  15. I’ve found a couple of simple breakfasts that my sleepyhead loves- a yummy smoothie or quick french toast helps motivate her out of bed most days!

  16. We put our kids to bed in clean, comfortable, cotton clothes rather than pajamas. They wake up–and they are already dressed!

    That way, we save about 30 minutes (10 per kid) EACH DAY. Huge time-saver!

    • My 16 yr old STILL sleeps in her clothes sometimes to save time in the morning. Totally a time saver…we have been doing this since our kids were young. I also agree with easy foods they can eat in the car on the way to the daycare or whatever. We did a lot of bagels, granola bars and bags of cereal in the car when my kids were preschool age.

  17. My first grader has always struggled with this.
    The other commenters have the huge point of sleep–can make or break the morning!
    When she started K she put on her school clothes at bedtime and it was a huge help.

    For waking up–having a slow wakeup routine has worked for us. I wake her up and tell her that when she is awake enough to listen I will read. We read 1-2 picture books when she was young, now we read 1 ch of a Boxcar Children book. She lounges and slowly gets her brain awake.

    But still, sleep sleep sleep is the key. We don’t get it in every night, but you sure can tell the difference!

  18. I agree with the laying out of clothes the night before. But – my kids weren’t into that until we gave it a name. “Lay out your clothes” was just not cool for my littles (6 & 3). Now we call it “make a flat ____” (fill in child’s name) and then they take full ownership of putting out the clothes to be their flat self ready for the new day. That has made all the difference.

  19. I had some issues with my kids when they were preschool age too. One of the things that I did was get up earlier than them and make sure everything I had to do to be ready for work and get out the door was DONE, and then I woke them up. It’s a sacrifice, but I found that if I too, was running like a chicken with my head cut off…my disposition was not helpful to THEIR disposition in the morning. If I was pretty much ready to go to work, I could focus on helping them get ready and I could spend some time with them, talking to them, prior to starting both of our days. If I overslept and was getting ready at the same time they were, it was really stressful. Invest in that focused time with them in the morning… it will pay off.

  20. She might need more sleep, or she could just not be a morning person (I’m not & I could get 20hrs of sleep & still not want to get up).
    Mornings are still a struggle here. I REALLY like the warm wash cloth idea. & Sleeping in braids (or even brushing hair before bedtime helps with morning bedhead) What works for us is music; fun music, get up and dance music. Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Katy Perry (all the PG versions) really help our kids get ready to move. It’s played in the living room so if they want to hear it they need to get up to go there. Also something that they can look forward to once they are out of the house (seeing the friend at school or hearing a song in the car).
    I also started having them pick out 2 outfits at night so there would be less fighting in the morning (our struggle had a lot to do with them wanting more independence). They could only pick out what to wear from those 2 things.
    A countdown also helps (I really want one of those clocks from amazon, but can’t afford it) so I set up the portable kitchen timer repeatedly you have 5 minutes to do X- the timer goes off & now you have 3 minutes to do X & so on. If they get done early I give HUGE praise & a sticker for helping the family getting out the door on time & I lay on the praise for being so helpful to mommy. In the car I point out how much nicer our morning was & how there was less yelling & notice how everyone seems happier.
    Turning off the TV helps & if they get done early then they can watch ‘their shows’ (Arthur is a HUGE incentive in our house) But for our younger kid I use a TV show as the timer: you have until the 1st commercial to get eat, you have the 1st commercial break to brush teeth, next part to get dressed (dressing after teeth brushing = no messy shirts) etc.
    So use what works.
    Also I have found that if I am all ready it also makes stuff go faster.
    Good luck! & it sounds like you have an understanding boss. When I was a WOHM I had an understanding boss too who knew me showing up 10-15minutes late wasn’t hurting my performance

  21. WOW, sorry for my book LOL

  22. Never heard of the sleeping in clothes idea, but obviously it works for some. :) Love the warm washcloth idea.

    When my kids were little, say 3 or 4, I read the Jim Fay book, “Parenting with Love and Logic.” One thing I loved and remembered from it was giving choices, such as, “you can get up now or in two minutes.” “You can get dressed now, or you have to go to daycare/school in your jammies.” Granted, for some, going in jammies is no big deal. But if no one else at daycare is in them, it might become a big deal, and the issue might be fixed by time Kindergarten starts. Staying firm and only offering two choices that you can actually live with are key.

    Best of luck. And remember to pick your battles. There will always be battles, small and large, but keeping sane is a good goal!

    • We’re big fans of Love and Logic at our house, too. The focus should be on keeping the responsibility on your kids. In our house, that means saying things like “breakfast is served until X time. Please feel free to join us.” If my daughter chooses to dawdle, she may miss breakfast. It sounds harsh, but the daycare serves food within a half hour of arrival. Likewise, if you don’t have your shoes on, you may find yourself walking to the car barefoot. That’s fine in the summer, but less fun in the winter when the garage floor is freezing!

  23. Marinda Ling says:

    When we were figuring out how to get out the door with 2 babies ( twins on our first pregnancy!), we made some choices. If we were committed to being on time, we would have to make personal sacrifices. My husband and I would get up early enough to be completely ready with the exception of eating. Then we would get the kids up and be available to help them move through their morning. We are still doing this in a modified way 8 1/2 years later. I will say that my dd is definitely more of a self starter. My ds shows his ADD first thing in the morning and I have to talk him through every step. I can certainly tell when I’m not ready because my patience wears much thinner. Hope this helps.

  24. My daughter is a lot like yours in the morning. She is 6 and we started Kindergarten this year. We started out a little rough but things have improved slowly. I have found that giving her quiet time to get fully awake is the best. She will usually sit in the bathroom with me while I finish getting ready, I have her clothes and toothbrush ready for her and we slowly ween in to the process! Not “hounding” her has done wonders for us in the morning. She will usually brush her teeth when I do etc. etc. I try not to put myself in a rushed place so I can help her calmly! I know at some point that the hand holding will have to stop but at least I’m not pulling my hair out and I have managed to get to time at work! I am not a morning person at all and really like to have a half hour to myself before anyone talks to me…needless to say I know how she feels!

  25. Wow! Thanks for all the advice! My situation has changed quite a bit since I emailed my question to Jessica. We moved closer into town which cut down dramatically on the morning commute. Plus now that she is in Kindergarten, her bus picks her up at 7:25. These have made a big difference. I don’t wake her up until 6:25.

    I’m not sure if my daughter is simply not a morning person or if she needs sleep. I’ve been putting her to bed at 8am and she’s usually asleep by 8:30. I am willing to move that bedtime back to 7:30 or 7:45 which will give her closer to 11 hours of sleep.

    I tried the alarm clock, but she would literally sleep for 20 minutes with the alarm buzzing. We have a small house and I couldn’t take it :)

    I have found that laying down in the bed with her in the morning and talking to her, rubbing her arm, etc actually helps her wake up easier. (Unfortunately, I am battling a disc problem in my back and have a lot of trouble doing this right now). I also love the warm washcloth idea. I may have to try that :)

    I already get things ready the night before (clothes, bookbag). The biggest challenge I face is making sure lunch is ready (I’m working on it!).

    I have seen improvements, and I think I will continue to see them as we work on being more organized overall.

    Thanks Jessica for featuring my question and thank you everyone for all the responses!

    • That would be an 8pm bedtime, not an 8am one :)

    • I’m glad things have improved!

      My 6 and 3 1/2 year old have to be in bed by 7:30 (bedtime routine starts at 7) in order to be up at 6:30. My kids sleep changes (dramatically) with amount of sunlight, so don’t get frustrated if everything goes to pot as we get more daylight.

  26. I would recommend gradually easing back bedtime to an earlier time. My son is 5 and he needs 11-12 hours of sleep a night. I have a friend who lets her kids sleep in their clothes (so they bathe, and change into the clothes they will wear the next day before bed and then sleep in them). I would try to have something special in the AM going on. Maybe a cup of cocoa, or a 10 minute moring snuggle and book reading with Mom. A favorite breakfast…something to make getting up desireable.

  27. I had the same issue with my girls. They are now 7 and 9. We still need to remind them of our rule, especially after a long break, but it never fails if I don’t. We made a rule in our house,after many morning struggles, that if you are not downstairs ready to go by 7am then you go to bed at 7pm that night. Their bedtime is 8, so it is a big deal. It only takes one time of enforcement to get it to work. I agree about having all things ready to go: clothes are picked out, lunches are made and bookbags are packed. Remember to remain calm and connected, no added stress from mom. Good luck!

  28. Amy Grace says:

    I recommend an “alarm” clock (CD or iPod) that goes off with gentle uplifting music about 5 minutes before you need to enter the room. Something like Jack Johnson’s Curious George album works nicely. Instead of YOU being the one to nudge her to consciousness, let Jack do it. Come in and sit on the bed for a minute and maybe sing along. Using the SAME song everday also helps establish a routine. My daughter responded better to waking up to the music than to me rousing her myself. Hope this helps.

  29. With the moms I work with I always suggest having a logical consequence for the child making a good choice to comply with the plan. What does your child like to do? Once they complete the tasks that they need to do before you are out the door, then allow that to happen. Often times it might be a TV show – but other times, maybe it can be a quick card game, time snuggling on the sofa before heading out on a busy day or doing a word search together. If your child wants time with you, then make that happen. If you need to be up just a little earlier so you can take that time, then I would say it is a small price to pay for not having to nag and badger your child! That is more exhausting than losing 15 minutes of sleep, in my opinion!

  30. When my son was in school every morning was terrible. He is not a morning person much like myself and add to that he didn’t like school and getting him up was a fight. I solved our problem actually quite easily, a shower first thing in the morning. I would carry him in to the bathroom with just a nightlight on, no harsh lights. Put him in a nice warm shower and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer went off I went in and asked what he wanted for breakfast and set the timer for 5 more minutes. When that timer went off he needed to get out of the shower and get dressed. By the time he was dressed I had breakfast ready for him to eat. He then went to brush his teeth and hair. And then we could be ready to leave in minutes. Even now that we have two boys I still find this way works if I need to get them up early, we homeschool now so mornings are optional.

  31. Something that helps right now (winter) in my house is making sure the house is not too cold. We have the thermostat set to heat up the house a bit before the kids get up, then it goes back down once the oldest is on his way to school. If he is cold, he will NOT get out from under the covers. It is worth it to us to pay the extra heating cost to get him up and going without a fuss. My son (just turned 6 yo) used to be a terror in the mornings, but as he has taken over more responsibility in the mornings he has become so much better. He does everything on his own except make his breakfast, and that is what he needed to do it on time. If I try to intervene or direct something, he will dig in and we will be late. It’s nice that he can be so independent, but sometimes I wish he were a bit more compliant.

  32. Hello Sara,

    I did this same routine when my daughter was little. A couple of things helped. I loved Fishmama’s ideas and wish I had them back then, however, I put together a schedule for my daughter and taped it to her door. Each step (brushing teeth, getting dressed had a picture to accompany it). Secondly, she ate in the car. Most of the time she wasn’t hungry first thing but I didn’t want to send her to daycare without breakfast so I packed something portable like a smootly for our short car ride. Good luck!

  33. I like the parenting with love and logic approach of letting the consequences teach the child responsibility. It’s hard in some cases, but worth it in the end. The book goes over specifics which I really like. I know they addressed this specific issue of getting children out of bed. And how to let natural consequences encourage children. We’ve started using the love and logic approach with our boys more and it’s really making a difference! Hope that helps – Good luck! Parenting’s tough but worth it!

  34. Mornings are an ongoing struggle at our house, too – in part because I am not a morning person, and I get my best quality sleep after DH gets up (he’s the early riser in the family — and the snorer). Makes it awfully difficult to get up earlier than the kid and have quiet quality time, then get her up and going, etc. We do a lot of the suggestions listed above — even though I am currently looking for some way to reduce the amount of time packing lunches takes in the evening because dishes/lunches/etc. are taking for-ev-er of my time then. I will note, for those of you suggesting the “sleep in your clothes”/”let the kid go in pajamas” options: schools have regulations that will not let kids attend in pajamas, and will send them back home with you. And letting a kid who has problems with bedwetting sleep in the clothes they’ve independently picked out for the next day is inviting disaster. Neither option is a true timesaver. :)

  35. My youngest just started kindergarten and I didn’t think he’d be able to get up since he was a late riser, but we adjusted his bedtime so that he’s typically easy to rouse by 7 am or he sometimes just wakes up a little earlier on his own. Early bedtime is CRITICAL. In the morning, I typically will put a light on in the hallway about 15-20 mins prior to wake up time – not sure it helps but ambient light supposedly triggers the waking up cycle (I do shut it off though when I go in to wake him up because bright light makes him really really cranky – understandably!). As I go about my morning routine I will open the boys’ bedroom door so they hear household noises that will start to rouse them. 10 mins to my hard/fast wake up time I will go in and gently say time to wake up in a sing song type of voice and do the same a tad bit louder 5 mins later if no stirring – 99% of the time this gets them up and stirring. I then do let the boys sit on the couch and wake up before they eat, but I’m sure that won’t work for everyone esp if you want them getting dressed first. I just have found a good routine of letting them wake up slower, I get their breakfast ready so they are eating between 10-15 minutes later, then clean up, bathroom, get dressed (clothes already laid out), brush teeth and wash faces. While they are eating I usually finish up lunches and backpacks (I do most prep the night before so this doesn’t take too long) and they are ready to go. From start to finish its 55 minutes (and honestly its an easy 55 mins!) and 3 months since my youngest joined our routine, he’s got it down pat – no rushing, no arguments or anything. I warn them about time – I have times that I know they need to be finished with bfast, finished with dressing and I want everyone’s coats and shoes on by a certain time so we always have 10 mins or so of leeway before bus comes (for that last minute “I forgot it was share day” or “I have to go poop” moments). Our mornings are sooo much easier. I do work but from home, so I find by getting up much earlier than the kids and reviewing emails before they are up, I am ready to hit the ground running. Maybe your boss would let you consider working from home a day or two or maybe you could go in later if you were able to get up earlier yourself, check emails and then give your daughter a little later rise time while still putting in your same amount of hours. I also know I can’t get myself ready while getting the kids ready. I can pack a lunch or check emails or whatever while they are eating or dressing but I can’t shower or get to engrossed in anything – I keep my eye on the clock and give gentle reminders “k boys, 5 more minutes and plates to the sink please” and it seems to work!

  36. Crazily enough, I use this routine to help our child get ready as independently as possible. I went to google it, and then realized I learned it here (before I even subscribed to the blog.)
    http://lifeasmom.com/2009/10/kids-chores-and-routines-simple-yet.html

    It’s made a world of difference (we wrote the word INDEPENDENCE at the bottom, and it’s really more about morning routine than bedtime for us.)

  37. Thank-you for posting this question. Mornings can be rough at our house. I loved reading all the ideas. I’m excited to put into practice the ones that will work for us. What I would love to hear more about is from the mom’s who themselves are not morning people. I am not a morning person, and am really working on it, but that would be my question to the readers. My husband likes for me to go to bed with him so I try to. Plus if I work on something then I get energized and am worthless the next day. So I am trying to figure out a new system that works for me and our family. However, I can relate to the ’20 hours of sleep and still can’t get up’. Any tips from the other non morning people? (I actually really do prefer to get up in the early morning b/c I’m more productive, but it usually only works for a day or two before I am dragging all day and then it defeats the purpose.)

    • We are all night owls here. What helps me is having a dual alarm clock, purposely set 23 minutes fast. That way when the first alarm goes off and I look over, there is that initial panic that I’ve overslept. Then I remember it is fast and I’m literally doing math in my head to see how much time I have left. Ten minutes later the next alarm goes off, but is set to the radio, really loud. As for the boy, we open his blinds to let in light 30 minutes before his alarm clock goes off (playing his favorite get up and go music). It helps that he has recently discovered DragonVale – he can’t check on his dragons if he isn’t ready for school.

  38. We also use TV or computer time as a kind of reward for getting ready. My little man can’t watch his shows or play until he has gotten dressed and eaten his breakfast. It’s usually enough of an incentive to get him going pretty quickly. That being said, I have to be on the ball–have his clothes picked out ahead of time, breakfast on the table and ready to eat–before he gets up (or at least shortly thereafter) so that he can have the tools to accomplish those goals. When we have to get going really early, I do find that giving him an opportunity to wake up for about 15 minutes before he has to start getting ready really helps. Of course, that means I have to get him up 15 minutes earlier :/ But it’s usually worth it! We have had to take disciplinary measures when he simply disobeys and doesn’t do what we’ve asked. Good luck! Mornings can really be tough!

  39. I gave my daughter a digital clock when she was little she couldn’t tell time but she knew when the 1st number was 8 it was time for bed and when the 1st number was 7 it was time to get up. She used to be an early bird- now that she goes to school she doesn’t like to get moving in the morning- it’s a little easier when the sun it out- open the blinds- also I have to make sure the room is not too cold or she doesn’t want to get out the warm bed!

  40. We homeschool now, but when I taught in a traditional school, I observed children who were not getting enough sleep at night. I echo the others comments about making sure she is well rested. We have one who can be slow to get ready to go any time of the day, so I try to allow plenty of extra time before we head out the door.

  41. My kids don’t have to wake up as early as your daughter, but they do have to be up by 7:00 and out the door before 8:00 to head to school. They almost always wake up on their own around 6:45, but I’ll wake them up by 7:00 if necessary. As others have said, the key for your daughter is getting enough sleep. Our kids (about the same age) are in bed between 7:30 and 8:00 in order to get up in time. I know this may be very difficult for you. If you work, and then need to pick up your daughter, get home, make dinner, and hopefully spend some time with her before bed, a 7 o’clock bedtime might seem impossible. I’m sorry as I’m sure this is difficult for you.

    A few things I do to help the morning go more smoothly with our 4 kids are:
    1) Have their clothes picked out ahead of time. I wrote a post about how we do that. http://www.gettingthroughtheday.com/2011/12/organizing-clothes-in-childs-closet.html
    2) We always do a very simple breakfast on school days, usually granola or oatmeal, sometimes eggs and toast. If you are not feeding her “on the go” already, healthy to-go breakfast options may give her an extra 15 minutes of sleep in the morning.
    3) Are you helping her get dressed? I used to make my 3 year old dress himself b/c he could, but I realized that if we were in a time crunch, the morning was much more smooth if I just took the 3 minutes to dress him myself instead of the 15 minutes it took him to do it.
    4) If she’s not able to go to bed at 7 at night, is she able to catch a nap mid-day to make up for some of those hours?

    I hope you are able to find a plan that works for your and your daughter. Good luck!

  42. Is there something that your daughter LIKES to do in the morning? Can you make sure all her chores/jobs are done prior to this activity? (i.e. – x must be completed before y happens)

    My 2 boys LIVE for breakfast…so, before they get breakfast, they must be dressed, make their beds & tidy their room, and empty the dishwasher.

    Maybe you could use a TV show or video as incentive?

  43. OK, I meant to post this yesterday but ran out of time. I actually have advice for this! My best morning EVER was yesterday morning. My six year old son has always had such a hard time in the morning and it’s been such a pain getting him out of bed. Well, the day before yesterday I explained to him that I would be waking him 15 minutes earlier. He could then have the choice to either rest for fifteen minutes or have fifteen minutes to play. So I did this and he got right out of bed, played for fifteen minutes and then had no problem doing his morning chores. We started breakfast earlier then we ever have on a weekday morning. It was awesome! Hope that might help.

  44. I hope that these tips help. I would also like to suggest that you get your little one checked out by her pediatrician and specifically mention the early-morning struggle. Ask him if he might recommend an allergy test (if your kiddo hasn’t already had one.) I was exactly like your daughter and was also falling asleep and cranky during the day for years. It turns out I had really bad pollen allergies. Once they were treated, my sleep habits and general wakefulness slowly improved! Hopefully she is 100% healthy but always being so, so tired even if she is getting the recommended sleep might mean she’s sleepy from having to fight off allergens all day.

  45. We don’t have the fight in our house because I get my kiddo dressed while he is still asleep in the morning and it wakes him up slowly. Then if he is still too tired to get up, I brush his teeth for him and I carry him out to the car and he eats breakfast while we drive. I’m sure there are better ways and he should be more independent at seven but right now it works and he has time to grow into the big kid who does things on his own.

  46. Help! I have the opposite problem. My 3 year old wakes up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. and then wakes up her brother and sister. We are all exhausted. I put her to bed about 7:30 p.m., and she naps for about 1.5 hours and wakes up by 2 p.m. Any suggestions? We are desperate!

    • My 2.5 year old daughter does this sometimes. I alternate with either putting her back into her bed (when it’s SUPER early) and telling her that it’s still night-time, that I will come and wake her up when it’s time to get up; or allow her to cuddle w/us in our bed if it’s close to wake up time.

      My kids also go to bed at 8pm, which helps a little with the early rise. I’ve also found that the later I put my kids down for nap, the longer they sleep and in turn, sleep better and longer at night. It almost seems counter-productive to have them sleep more, to sleep more, but it works for us!

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