It happens every morning like clockwork: our otherwise-pleasant child throws a tantrum of monster proportions. I’m talking foot stomping, hand slamming, voice raised, monster. Why? Because she needs to wake up.
I don’t know how it happens, or even who she is when it is happening. Our daughter, typically the sweetest and most reserved little girl you will ever meet, becomes another person when I wake her up for school. And whoever that person is, she is NOT a morning person.
Despite what you might think, she gets plenty of sleep. Our 8-year-old goes to bed at 8 pm, and we wake her for school at 7 am. This gives her a solid 40 minutes to get ready and eat breakfast before we need to get in the car to leave for school. In an ideal world, school would just start later, because when we allow her to sleep in on the weekends, our daughter wakes up fresh-faced and pleasant by 8 am.
We are talking one hour’s difference, one hour, from tiny titan to sleeping beauty.
Throughout the day, our daughter behaves as any normal little girl. She doesn’t throw tantrums. In fact, I would say she is actually a really good kid. One to be trusted and proud of. I’ve heard like praise about her from other adults, in case you thought parental bias was at work here. Similarly well-mannered, our other two children wake up just fine – the middle child jumps into my arms for morning hugs, and the youngest is just thrilled that nighttime is over.
So where did I go wrong in the mornings with my eldest?
My husband and I are both morning people. We love to wake up at 6 am and spend the morning together reading and talking. That hour before the kids wake up, spent in quiet with my husband, is my favorite way to start the day! I feel like I can conquer anything once I have had that time to myself, and when I don’t get it –— life just feels a little more hectic and I feel a little more scrambled. But it’s not exactly reasonable for a child to start the day that way, plus it would take away from what I personally need to be a better mother.
I have tried using pleasant, melodic voices to coax her out of her slumber. I have tried singing songs. I have tried waking her up a few minutes earlier to allow her time to adjust. Adversely, I have tried waking her up a few minutes later to see if those 15 extra minutes help. Nothing has really worked. On most mornings, after enough cajoling, I can get her down and dressed in 15 minutes.
And sure, maybe I exaggerated a bit in the opening paragraph because we do indeed have our good days and bad days. Many mornings are less painful, consisting of sluggish movements, whining, and glum expressions until she wakes up fully. I can handle that. But on other mornings, the volcano erupts. Feet stomp, doors slam … it’s mayhem. It’s the kind of stuff that raises my hackles, forcing me to use every ounce of reserve not to react, and throw the same exact behavior back at her. Maybe it’s hereditary?! After all, when my husband is low on sleep, let’s just say we call him Mr. Grumpulumpicous.
Maybe everyone has a short fuse when they’re tired? I don’t know. I just try to be understanding and patient, to do everything I can to help my children have a pleasant and wonderful start to the day. Don’t we all want to send our kids off to school with hugs, love, and rays of sunshine after all?
But then there are those mornings. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re akin to the perfect storm of parenting. The kind of morning when I’ve been kept up all night by a screaming toddler, or a 5-year-old with nightmares, or a baby with a sick stomach. On mornings like this (and we had a one today), I find myself going down that scream spiral with my eldest, much to my embarrassment and shame. And I am left with a heap of regret after the fact.
So how do I curb this? How do I handle her obnoxious morning behavior, without becoming a total loon myself? Especially as they get older, and their school-related activities start to keep them up past their bedtime occasionally.
There was one month when the church play kept her up past her bedtime consistently each week. Now THAT my friends, was truly special. But this is life, and we want to live it. Not let our entire family be ruled by immutable laws to keep a child less grumpy in the mornings. Especially if she is going to be grumpy anyway — ha!
The thing is, that I personally feel like the start to your day is so important. It can totally direct the path of the day, and I would love to somehow teach my child to start hers off right, and set her up for future success.
Because a 30-year-old refusing to get up for work is a lot more of a problem than an 8-year-old who doesn’t want to wake up for school.
Any advice is much appreciated.More On