4 Ways to Help Children to Cope with Early Mornings

My nine-year-old hops in the van at 6 o'clock in the morning so I can drive her to the bus stop. No matter the day, it's always dark at that time. In order to have breakfast and get ready for the day, she has to get up at 5:30. We've learned a few things to make it easier for my sleepy girl to get up so early in the morning. One small thing has made ALL the difference in our early mornings. 
Getting a child up at 5:30 isn't easy, but one "trick" makes all the difference.
First Day of School 2015-2016

Go to Bed Early

Of course everyone should realize that if a child wakes up early they should go to bed early. (Adults should likely consider this more often.) However, it may be ridiculously early. We start with the bedtime routine about 6:30 p.m. so we have time to get dressed for bed, brush teeth, read together (both Bible and a book), and pray. This also allows for a few minutes of independent reading until 7:15 when the lights go out.

Limit Evening Activities

If the children need to go to bed early, then we limit evening activities, even on the weekends. It's important to have consistency throughout the week. Our children are allowed one evening activity a week, but they are still in bed with lights out by 8 o'clock or sooner. I'm pretty strict about this.

The Deal-Breaker

Throughout kindergarten, first, and second grade, Big Sister had a 7 o'clock bus stop in the mornings. It was torture to get her out of bed on weekdays. I literally had to drag her from her bed some mornings. (And, yes, I know what the word "literally" means.)

Prior to the start of this school year, I realized she would benefit from a reward. If she wakes up to her alarm and gets dressed and is kind to her siblings (who are almost always awake before 6 since they all go to bed at the same time), she is allowed to use any remaining time to use the computer or Kindle after she is ready for the school day. (I have to mention, we just bought our second Kindle Fire for $50. [affiliate link] Unlike my old Fire, this is a real tablet. It's not perfect, but it is an incredible value.) 

Big Sister no longer ignores her alarm. She is up and ready for the day! Before this incentive was provided, she only used the computer or Kindle once or twice a week (and it was usually for school). She loves this time to play. It's worth it. 

Adult Adjustments

If the children need to wake up early, then so do I. I need to plan the evening before and structure the morning for the children's benefit. If I don't plan well, I could be grumpy and make it worse for everyone. I set the tone for the morning. I've learned I need to go to bed extra early, too. And some days, I take a nap. It's called survival.

Now I know some families must wake up early and everyone needs to be out the door before six. I'm grateful I don't have to worry about taking a shower before that first bus stop of the day. In fact, I don't even eat with Big Sister. While she eats breakfast, I pack lunches for the day. I eat a bit later when Brother and Little Sister have breakfast. (I make them wait until we return from the bus stop for breakfast.)

Some think our bus stop is ridiculously early. However, we live in the country. Not only that, but our children attend a charter school that is about 25 minutes from our home. It's reasonable that they have an hour bus ride with that in mind. Driving them to school daily is not an option we will consider at this time. Instead, we've learned how to cope with early mornings. 

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~ Annette
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  1. Oh well this post answers my question to you in an e-mail! At least mostly! :D

  2. Wow! I'm very impressed. The only time I ever rode a bus was in sixth-eighth grades in Georgia, and I don't recall the ride being particularly long or early. Our city school system where I grew up (and where I now live, or at least one city over) doesn't have buses. My kids have just about the opposite schedule, mostly due to homeschooling, I suppose. That's fantastic that you're so disciplined! I remember during the years when I taught high school, our first period/block class began at 7:32 a.m. I thought that was ridiculously early, as did most of the teachers. Even then, though, most of those kids probably didn't get up before 6:30 to be at school on time. Your daughter is one tough cookie! :-)

    1. Big Sister's school does begin about 7:30. They arrive a bit earlier than that with total bus time just over an hour. The charter school serves many (7?) districts, so a lot of children have long rides, as do the teachers.


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