Waking Up on Time for School
For many parents, hearing their alarm go off in the morning fills them with dread. After all, now they have to beg, plead, cajole, and even drag their kids out of bed, somehow get them dressed, and get them on the school bus on time. The good news: There are things you can do to smooth over the morning madness.
"Waking your child up for school shouldn't be difficult," says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Take Charge of your Child's Sleep. "You just have to avoid the biggest mistake parents make: Letting their children stay up too late at night."
To figure out the best bedtime for your child, decide how much sleep she needs (most children ages 5 to 12 need about 10 hours), then count backwards from the time she needs to get up in the morning (leaving about 45 minutes to get ready for school).
Then, when morning comes, expose your child to plenty of light by putting the shades up in her room. That's because morning light helps suppress melatonin -- the hormone that causes drowsiness -- leading to feelings of alertness. Finally, don't forget to offer your child a healthy breakfast -- and set aside at least 10 minutes to eat it.
Simple Ways to Destress Your Mornings
Cut out caffeine during the day.
Too much caffeine can wire kids up and make it difficult for them to drift off to sleep at night. As a result, they are tired and cranky when the alarm goes off in the morning.
Keep your routine as consistent as possible -- even on the weekends.
"While it's fine to let them catch up on a little sleep, it's not smart to let them sleep their Saturdays and Sundays away," says Dr. Mindell. "If you do, they're going to have a hard time adjusting back on Monday morning."
If your child normally gets up at 7 a.m. on a weekday, don't let her sleep any later than 8 or 8:30 on the weekend.
Don't expect a young child to be able to use an alarm clock.
Most experts say that alarm clocks aren't really useful until a child is around 12 years old or in the sixth grade. Before that, you'll need to go in and get them up. (And, unfortunately, even after age 12 you still may need to go in and make sure they get up after their alarm clock rings.)
Use the night before to get organized.
Pack the backpack, set out the bowls and spoons for breakfast, and pick out the clothes your child will wear. Remember, the less surprises you have to deal with in the morning, the less hectic it'll be for everyone.