Before I talk about how to get your child out of bed in the morning, I want to thank all of our families and students for their part in making the 2019 Open Day such a success. This year, I led three tours which meant I could actually see and experience Open Day much more than previous occasions when I was stationed in the Undercover Area.
I really loved seeing people chatting, enjoying the atmosphere, making the most of the food options and spending time with their children and friends. It was a fun time of celebrating Glasshouse Christian College and certainly a time to be proud of our students.
Thanks to the P and F and Hospitality Department who worked hard and long to bring us such tasty options. Even with all the food trucks, these stalls were busy for most of the morning. Many of you may not know this but our Tuckshop provided lunch for all the staff who gave up their Saturday so I’d like to thank them also.
The people who worked the hardest and longest are probably the ones you didn’t see. They were the members of our Property Team who were on campus before the dawn and still working the following week putting everything away.
This year there were more performances in more venues than ever before with the opening of our Music Centre and Sports Stadium. We tried to capture as many as we could on photo and video and hope you had the opportunity to enjoy some of the performances live on the day.
Ten top tips to get your child out of bed in the morning
After such a big Open Day, many may have found it difficult to get out of bed this week however, I want to address parents with children who experience this as an ongoing problem.
It’s coming into the colder months and we’d all love to stay snuggled under the covers rather than put bare feet on a cold floor then rush around dressing, eating, packing and going to school. I’m not talking about this natural reluctance but the child who continually and stubbornly fights to get out of bed in the morning.
Rather than becoming frustrated, escalating the morning struggle and resorting to yelling, we need to build on children’s innate behaviours and natural inclinations. It’s important to create an intentional morning routine; one that everyone is aware of and one that the parents model.
Tip number one is: Don’t call them lazy
It may feel like children are lazy and just can’t be bothered to get out of bed but there is much more going on. Children need more sleep than adults and some are night owls while others are early birds.
Calling children lazy because they want to stay in bed can also backfire and, over time, some children may use the label to justify other negative behaviours. However, despite their individual biological make-up, we are still left with the problem of how to motivate children to leave their warm cosy bed in time for school.
Tip two: Are they getting enough sleep?
Not only do children need more sleep but some need more than others. Just because one of your children thrives on an 8:30pm bedtime, doesn’t mean it is enough sleep for the other child. Understand your children; pay attention to times they find it easier or more difficult to wake up and adjust their routines accordingly.
My advice is to not let students take technology into their bedrooms once they have said goodnight, this includes their phone. This is difficult if your child is using their phone as their alarm clock but my further advice here is to purchase an actual alarm clock. A pretty good one will set you back about 25 dollars but it is a worthy investment to close that well-worn loophole.
Tip three: Make mornings cheerful
Even when you haven’t had time for your first coffee, you’ve been up late working on emails or catching up on washing – make mornings cheerful. It’s easier to do when you’ve actually had enough sleep yourself but that’s not always possible for parents with sick children or a baby in the house but do what you can to set a cheerful, welcome tone, that children will enjoy waking up to. Call them by their favourite nicknames, use terms of endearment and open the curtains or blinds to let in all that natural light.
Tip four: Allow a small amount of flexibility
I guarantee at least one of your children will complain, pull up the covers and mutter, “I just want five more minutes.” If you have a child like that, then wake them up five minutes earlier and allow the extra time in bed. If they happily get themselves out of bed five minutes later, then allow the practice to continue. However, if this is just a stalling technique and five minutes later they want another five minutes then they have shown that they haven’t ‘earned’ the privilege of the first five minutes and need to rise at the earlier wake-up call. Use the occasion as a learning opportunity to explain that actions have consequences and responsibility is rewarded.
Over time, give your children more morning responsibility and ensure it is rewarded. As children grow older they can set their own alarm clocks and decide if they want to hit the snooze button once. Reward them with praise and maybe a favourite breakfast food. If they aren’t living up to the responsibility then take it away until they are older and ready for it.
Oh, and one more trick is to ensure that the alarm clock is enough distance away from your child’s bed that they need to get up to hit the “snooze” button anyway. The fact that they are now out of bed makes it less likely they will crawl back under the covers. No guarantees on this one though.
Tip five: Do what works
Does bringing their pet into the room help them wake up cheerfully? Do they like waking to their favourite song? A little effort setting up something like this can save a lot of drama and time later on in the morning. Does it help to turn it into a game like ‘beat the buzzer’ to get dressed? A five dollar kitchen timer can be used in more rooms than the kitchen!
Tip six: Let them experience the natural consequences of being late
This tip is really tricky when it comes to weekdays as children have to be at school when the bell goes. Missing the bus will cause more work for you and feel like a reward for them with their own personal chauffeur. Try natural consequences first on the weekends when not getting out of bed on time means they miss out on a special breakfast, visiting a friend or going out.
If missing the bus can’t be avoided some school days then let your child experience the consequences and ‘charge’ them for your time and petrol. Dock their pocket money to help with petrol and have jobs lined up for them to make up for your lost time. Make sure they know the consequences before dealing out justice. It may seem harsh but you are helping your child see the real cost of them running late and how it impacts others.
Tip seven: Remember they are still learning
As adults, we have a huge head start on learning the value of being on time. Children and teens are still learning. Of course, we should still let them experience age-appropriate natural consequences of being late, but we should do it gently and patiently. In a child and teen’s mind, the world revolves around them and only time and practice will help them grow in maturity.
Tip eight: Have a routine
Establishing a routine at bedtime is also an excellent way to signal to children that it is time to sleep now. It is also very settling for the child. The simplest but most powerful routine you can institute is to ensure you say “goodnight” to your child every night or whenever you can. I am surprised at how many kids, particularly teenagers just drift off to the bedroom without this acknowledgement either from them or from their parents. Even my older daughters 18 and 20 respectively still wish me good night because they know that it is an important family ritual. It is these little traditions that bring families that bit closer.
The best head start on a smooth morning begins the night before. Ensure uniforms are ready, children go to bed on time and that alarms are set. Younger children may find a simple checklist helpful and enjoy ticking off their jobs as they go.
Stick to your routine at all times on weekdays; you can break it on holidays if you want. When a firm routine is in place children and teens will follow it without complaint because they know making a fuss won’t make any difference.
Tip nine: Problem solve together
Talk to your child and ask what ideas they have to overcome the morning struggle. If they say they are just too tired, then ask them what they think will help. Let them come up with the idea of going to bed earlier rather than imposing the new ruling onto them first. Make them feel part of the process and they will be more likely to accept solutions.
Tip ten: If problems persist, investigate further
If you have put everything in place and haven’t wavered from the routine but still have a reluctant waker then it could be time to investigate further. If your child is happy at school but still doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning then a trip to the doctors is worthwhile. It could be a simple matter of enlarged tonsils not allowing enough air resulting in a tired child.
However, if your child wakes up easily at the same time on weekends but is reluctant on a weekday, it could be a problem at school. Talk to your child and allow lots of opportunities for them to talk to you. Involve their teacher and find out what is going on during the day.
Mike Curtis, Principal