The 5-Step Plan That Gets My Sleepy Kid Out of Bed in the Morning
Our dragon, er, daughter is six and most mornings she’s ready to get up and take on the world, but on those dreary days when her cozy bed is the only place she wants to be, we’ve found a few helpful tricks to get her up and on her way. Most are simple things to encourage her to get up and at ‘em, but we’ve squeezed in one that might just teeter on bribery because when we’re in a time crunch everything is fair game!
Set the mood with music.
Like all households, we have a morning routine, and truth be told, most mornings I don’t play a big part in it. My dreamboat husband really enjoys waking up early and having alone time, so he’s up before 5am and more than happy to take on mornings with our daughter. Because he doesn’t get to spend quite as much time with our daughter in the evenings, he loves having that time with her, even if that means taking the brunt of her morning grumps.
His first line of defense after a sweet hug to wake her: the morning soundtrack. Although he can make a mean mix-tape, he’s not creating specialized soundtracks for her in the morning. No, he just plays the one soundtrack to end all soundtracks, the one that’s been on a constant loop in all our heads since Thanksgiving ‘21.
Yes, I’m talking about the sweet sounds of Encanto.
Every morning “The Family Madrigal” sets the mood. He plays it just loud enough so she can hear that it’s on, then after a minute or two she’ll yell “please turn it up!” and we know she’s awake. He usually gives her until “Surface Pressure” to fully wake up, then he goes in again and she’s ready to rise and shine. If it doesn’t happen, he takes the music out of her room and that’s usually all he has to do to get her feet on the floor.
Let the light shine in!
While the music plays, he opens all the curtains and turning on the hallway lights. It’s a small but necessary action, especially during the winter when everything can be so dark and dreary. If it happens to be sunny and nice outside he’ll throw the windows open and let fresh air in. Fresh air is always good for the soul. Sometimes kids just don’t want to talk in the morning so opening up the curtains and letting the light in is an actionable way of saying “Good morning! It’s a new day!” without getting that teenage scowl six-year-olds seem to have mastered already!
Entice her with breakfast.
His third trick actually comes into play the night before when he asks her what she wants for breakfast the next morning. Again, something really simple, but if it’s a special breakfast food that she’s looking forward to, talking about it seems to help her move from her bed out to the kitchen. If it’s cereal she requested but she’s still in bed or moving slowly he’ll ask her if she wants to come and help pour the milk. If she wants a smoothie he’ll tell her that she needs to come and pick the ingredients.
Chat about what the day has in store.
Another thing we’ve found helpful if we just can’t get her out of bed is to sit for a minute and talk about the day ahead. There usually isn’t a lot of time for this after the first three songs on the soundtrack have played, but a minute wondering aloud what her best friend might want to play during recess, or how the class pet is doing, is enough to get her awake and moving. On really hard days, he’ll add in an “maybe after school we can go get something special like a treat or a prize” and if the promise of a prize after school doesn’t get her going, well, then it’s on to our last resort.
Bring in a helper.
What is the last resort? It’s not a what;it’s actually a who – Mama! It’s me. Since I’m up late working I stay in bed for a good portion of the morning routine, half asleep, monitoring the situation. On easy days, I join them at breakfast, where I do her hair and chat for a while before they wrap it up and head to school. However, if I hear that things aren’t going well before breakfast, I make an early appearance. Since I rarely do the entire morning with her, she loves when I’m around and magically springs into action, excited to have Mama along for her morning routine. This only works because I’m not a part of it every day. While this may not be an option for all households, I highly suggest trying a version of it, maybe with an older sibling who can swap in and bring new energy to a mundane morning, or even a Facetime call to a grandparent to get them psyched for the day.
All of these things work some of the time. No parent or child is the same, so these tricks won’t be a great fit for everyone, but if you’re open to trying just one thing from this list, I suggest you try music. Because the success of a morning depends not just on our sleepy kid, but also on our sleepy-not-yet-sufficiently caffeinated selves, and if anything can get us in the right mood quickly, it’s music.