Do your kids wake up cranky? Do they complain about (or sleep through) the alarm? Do your mornings begin with chaos and just get worse? Then consider incorporating a waking ritual into your morning. Just as bedtime rituals can help kids transition to sleep, waking rituals can ease kids into the day. Not long after my husband and I adopted our preschoolers (who, at the time, were just as likely to bite us as hug us) we discovered how important waking rituals were for our kids.
Specifically (and not surprisingly), as new members of our household, our kids were conflicted about physical affection. However, we learned that they were more amenable to affection when they first woke up, and they remembered where they were when they heard our voices. Six years later, we still enjoy our singing-and-hugging waking ritual as a way to remind us how far we've come, and it helps start the day in a calm way.
Sound worth a try? Here are some tips for developing your own waking ritual:
1. Keep it brief. Your child should have time to wake gently, but the ritual shouldn't be so long that you're tempted to skip it!
2. Make it yours. If you're the singing kind, consider starting the day with a wake up song. If you're spiritual, then consider a prayer. And so on. My family, for instance, is Jewish, and we love to sing, so we use a two-word Hebrew chant.
3. Make it "one size fits all." If your kids share a room, super! Use the same ritual for both kids and save time.
4. Incorporate a physical action. It won't be long before your child doesn't want to hold your hand or show affection in front of friends. Enjoy the calm, "guard down" time and start the day with a hug or kiss or stroking of the hair.
5. Queue up the day. Kids like routine and knowing what's ahead of them. Remind them if there's anything different going on that day (e.g., after school activity, grandma is doing pick up) or simply share the forecast ("You'll need a raincoat today") to signal that it's time to get the day rolling.
6. Teach your kids to use an alarm clock anyway. At some point, your kids will need to learn how to use an alarm clock. To avoid the jarring nature of traditional ones, you could set it for 5 or so minutes after you start your waking ritual so it serves as a reminder to everyone that it's time to move on to the next phase of the morning. (Fun devices such as the pictured Yoda alarm clock can inspire kids to get in a routine with clocks!)
7. Incorporate the kids. My husband and I made up our family waking ritual, but there's no reason your whole family can't collaborate. Maybe your littlest kids have an idea for waking your older ones, or your only child wants a way to wake you (or their favorite stuffed animal!).
Also, it's worth mentioning that mornings are always easier with a little prep done the night before. Lay out the next day's clothing, pack the backpack, and prep school lunches; these preparatory steps + a gentle waking ritual will make for much easier mornings!
Do you have other ideas for waking rituals? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Image credit: Yoda alarm clock via Amazon