Courtesy of Liza Wyles

My Kids Were Super Cranky In The Morning, So I Woke Them Up Earlier

Technically, I’m a morning person. Though I hate getting woken up by my alarm, once I am up, I am focused and productive. So in our house, I’m the designated driver of our weekday mornings; I get the kids up, supervise breakfast, dressing and teeth brushing, pack their lunches, and make sure all signed trip forms and text books are in their backpacks. Since starting grade school, my kids have vehemently resisted mornings. So I did the logical thing to cure them of their morning crankiness; I woke them up earlier.

I’ll give you a second to make sure you read that correctly.

Yes; to try to curb their obnoxious, uncooperative behavior during our morning routine, I got them out of bed almost a half hour earlier.

And it worked.

When I was getting out of bed around twenty after six, I would hurriedly get breakfast going, and then my husband and I would start waking one kid each. I was frantically watching the time and making multiple trips to rouse them. Each time my voice was more urgent:

6:30 a.m.: “Hey sweetie, time to rise and shine.”

6:37 a.m.: “OK, let’s get up. Breakfast is ready.”

6:42 a.m.: “C’mon. Time to get up. Up and at ‘em. Here we go.”

6:47 a.m.: “You’re not going to have any time to eat and we can’t miss the bus and please just MOVE MOVE MOVE!”

And for the next half hour, I’d be clocking their every move as we counted down to 7:18 a.m., when we had to usher them to the bus stop. There was constant yelling and a general feeling of failure on everyone’s part.

It was a horrible way to start our day.

With time on our side, it’s easier to keep calm and carry on.

Now, when my alarm goes off at 6:08 a.m., I shuffle off to the kitchen and fill up the kids’ water bottles for the day. Then I gently wake my 7-year-old son by snuggling with him for a few minutes. “Can you get my granola bar ready?” he murmurs, eyes still closed. I leave him and go to his 10-year-old sister’s room. While I hate climbing up to her loft bed in my creaky morning state (and I keep threatening that she and I are both too old for me to be going up there), I do love hugging her warm body nestled among the baby blankets she still sleeps with. I brush her hair out of her face and stroke her cheek. She stirs and mumbles something about cereal, but "just a little milk." I climb down and get their breakfast going.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

Then I go back to my son and we walk together to the dining room. My daughter emerges, hair brushed, in her bathrobe (over the outfit she has put on the night before, to save her time) and we all sit at the table. They eat while I peel oranges for their lunches. I’m not barking at them to hurry up, or doing frantic math in my head to calculate if I have time to make my coffee before we dash for the bus.

With time on our side, it’s easier to keep calm and carry on.

My kids are no less tired than they were when they had that 30 minutes more to sleep, but since we’ve shifted to an earlier wake-up time, they are much less irritable, because I am much less irritable, since we have padding in our schedule to clean up wayward spills, or change outfits (multiple times), or ask me to sign something they forgot to take out of their folders the night before.

They are also motivated to get all their tasks done in the morning because we allow them a few minutes of screen time before they leave for school. On our old schedule, there was barely enough time to get through the necessary routine before we ran out the door. Now, my kids know that if they are completely ready for school before we have to catch the bus, they can use any surplus time to watch something.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

I had to made my peace with this change. We had a strict policy of no screen time on school days; they were only allowed that on Friday nights and weekends. But with our early-bird weekday schedule, screen time fits in kind of nicely. They get about 20 minutes of it, and since they have no choice but to turn it off when it’s time to go (because being late for school simply won’t fly with us, as working parents who also need to be somewhere in the morning), there isn’t a huge fight when it’s time to power down.

Notice I said “huge” fight. There is still a mild battle of wills — “One more minute!” — but time is on everyone’s side; when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Our earlier wake-up has afforded me the time to take an occasional break from my kids in the morning, when my patience is tried, or the sibling bickering grates on me. I didn’t have that luxury when we were racing the clock.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

My children haven’t turned into rays of sunshine by getting up earlier. But the extra time has smoothed the path to our front door on weekday mornings. I’ll never sleep again, but at least I’ll have more time to complain about it.