Thursday, September 6, 2012

Elementary Activities: Start Early with Alarm Clocks

By Deborah Pace Rowley
I have a terrible confession to make. I am often the last one up in my home. I secretly love to lay in bed and listen to my household stir around me. My husband leaves for work at 6:00 a.m. and after we pray together and he gives me a kiss I usually go back to sleep. Unfortunately, my blissful slumber only lasts so long. Then the door slams shut and I glance blearily at the clock. 6:30 a.m. There goes my 17-year-old out for a morning jog. 6:45 a.m. Now I can hear my 14-year-old son slamming cupboard doors as he help himself to some breakfast .7:00 a.m. Here is my 9-year-old grabbing some clothes out of the laundry room before she gets in the shower. 7:10 I guess I will drag myself out of bed now! 

There is something about lying in bed while I listen to my independent children start their day that makes me feel like a good mother. You should try it sometime! I think the biggest thing we have done to encourage our children’s independence is to buy them alarm clocks at a young age. Why is that a 6-year-old thinks that getting up to an alarm clock is the greatest thing since sliced bread while a 14-year-old thinks the sound of an alarm clock is worse than death? Start young!

I have never wanted my children to depend on me to wake them up and get them out of bed. For starters, I won’t be living with them and in a position to do this for very long! (I hope)  Plus I have heard horror stories of mothers having to throw buckets of cold water on nearly comatose teenagers to get them out of bed! (Think of the clean up!) No way did I want to be in that situation down the road. So we begin early in training our children to get themselves up and going on their own. 

Buy a cute, fun alarm clock and announce to your child that now she is old enough to get up on her own. Place a cereal bowl and spoon in a cupboard or drawer that is easy to reach and store a small amount of milk in an easily pourable container. Show your child where everything is and then tell her that she can get up and have breakfast even before Mom or Dad if she gets up with her alarm. We don’t often have sugary cereals so my kids consider them a real treat. I would buy a box of Captain Crunch and show it to my child when I make this announcement. 

That is all that is needed to make getting up with an alarm appealing and fun. Sure the novelty wears off, but it usually takes just once or twice of my child sleeping in and having to go to school late to get things back on track. Don’t intervene and wake up your child if they sleep through their alarm. This defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it? Just take the child in to the office when they finally wake up and are ready for school. Then the child has to explain that he slept in and is not excused by Mom for this tardy. If extra encouragement is needed, talk to the teacher about piling on the work that he or she “missed” during the time they were asleep. Good luck establishing an effective morning routine in your family. If you have any other ideas that have worked for you, we would love to hear them below. 
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