How to Wake Up Kids Who Don't Want to Wake Up

Wake Up WeekThis week, we're looking at what it really means to have the "perfect" morning, whether you start your day like a Soylent-chugging Silicon Valley CEO, or by rolling out of bed and straight out the door. Rise and shine.  

Sometimes the biggest hurdle in a parent’s morning routine is physically getting your children out of bed.

If your kids are of the sleep-in-no-matter-what-is-happening-around-me variety, we’ve got some suggestions for how to get them up and moving in less stressful—and hopefully more effective—ways.

Make sure they’re getting enough sleep

Before you start parading through your kids’ rooms banging on a drum to get them up in the morning, consider how much sleep they’re getting. There is a great list, provided by the National Sleep Foundation, broken down by age:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day.
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours each day.
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours each day.
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours each day.
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours each day.
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours each day.

If they’re not going to bed early enough—or if they’re not sleeping well during those hours—mornings are sure to be tougher.

Let in the light

Nothing wakes a person up slowly and gently like the rising sun. That could be as simple as opening up the window blinds or shades during certain times of the year. During the dark winter months, though, we don’t always have time to wait for that. For those months, many parents recommend a sunrise alarm clock that gradually gets brighter to mimic the rising sun.

Wirecutter did a review of several sunrise alarm clocks and offers recommendations based on quality and price.

Give them a buffer

Do you wake up and instantly throw back the covers and jump out of bed? If you do, you are the sort of person who drives me crazy. I’m more of a roll around, stretch a bit, take a drink of water from the glass on my nightstand, unplug my phone, maybe check to see if I’ve gotten any text messages, sigh a little bit because morning, stretch a little more and THEN get up.

Try giving your kids a (short) set amount of time to lounge between “wake up” and “get up.”

Add in the noise

Alarm clocks work (especially if you place them across the room instead of right next to the bed), but they’re obviously pretty jarring. Instead, try a morning playlist of your kid’s favorite upbeat songs. Maybe the first song or two is their buffer time and by the time song 3 starts, they need to start pulling back the covers.

Of course, there is other noise you can resort to: Parents in our Offspring Facebook Group suggested everything from obnoxiously loud singing to daily vacuuming, depending on how committed you are.

If all else fails

You can always count on our parenting group for good advice, and this topic is no exception. Some of these suggestions made me laugh, some made me cringe, but I think we can agree that they’re all effective:

  • “I set her little sister on to her,” says Kylie. “That baby is vicious.” (Actually, enlisting a sibling for wake-up duty was a popular suggestion in the group. Brian says his 6-year-old daughter will get up simply to snuggle her 10-month-old sister, although he admits that may be hard for others to replicate. Another group member warns her 4-year-old son that his sister is finishing her waffle and is about to start on his, so he’d better hurry it up.)
  • Another popular suggestion: Wake them up and then take the covers with you when you leave the room.
  • “I tickle my 4-year-old’s feet until he wakes up and tell him I’ll stop as soon as he’s on the floor,” Stefanie says. “My dad did this to me up through high school. It works.”
  • Robin uses the Frozen BB Approach: “I keep a container of BBs in the freezer. If they don’t get up, pour them in the bed with the child. No matter which way they roll, the frozen balls of evil chase them. I’ve only had to do it once per kid; after that just shake the container. 3 for 3! My oldest is 23.”
  • And, of course, last but never least: Bribe them with screens.
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