Getting out of bed on a cold, dark winter morning is difficult for most adults, so we shouldn’t be surprised to find that our children aren’t too fond of it either. While it is tough to exchange our lovely warm bed for the stark crisp air, there’s also a scientific explanation for our struggles…
Our circadian rhythm (body clock) is designed to wake us with the rising sun, so, with no sunlight to support us during the winter mornings, we find it even more laborious to get out of bed and start our day on the right foot. How can we make this easier for our kids? Here are our top tips for helping children get up, get out, and get ready for a positive day.
1) Set a strict bedtime routine
It shouldn’t come as a shock to find out that bedtime routines are exceptionally important for children, especially during the wintertime. It’s already difficult for many kids to get out of bed during a dark morning, so the last thing you want to do is make this even harder by allowing them to run wild the night before.
You can follow this sleep chart to determine what time your child should go to bed depending on their age, or work out the right answer for yourself by taking into consideration your child’s habits, daily schedule, and general attitude.
For example, a 10-year-old needs roughly nine to 11 hours of sleep per night. If your child needs to be out of bed by 07:00 and you know they need as much sleep as possible, they should be in bed by 20:00. This means it could be a good idea to start ‘winding them down’ at around 19:00 and have them bathed, teeth brushed, and into their kids’ pyjamas by 19:45.
It’s never too early to introduce your child to the power of daily affirmations, especially when the effect might be the difference between a positive morning and mourning. Affirmations (positive statements) can help improve your child’s wellbeing, self-esteem, and overall mindset. As they wake up and begin to adjust to a new day, repeat your chosen affirmations together before they get out of bed.
I am strong. I am important. I am enough. I am proud of myself. Make sure whichever positive statements they respond well to are spoken out loud each morning. Struggling to get out of bed can be associated with negative thinking, and daily affirmations can train a child’s brain to think more positively.
3) Give them something to look forward to
In a similar way to adults, the moment your child wakes up, they’re met with a series of boxes to tick before their day officially starts. For many, this can feel very monotonous and chore-like, making it even harder to get out of bed in the morning.
While it’s not possible for your child to avoid showering, brushing their teeth, getting dressed, and having breakfast, you could try to give them something to look forward to each morning.
Perhaps they’re currently engrossed in a new book, or maybe they’re really excited about a new game they’ve recently discovered. Incorporate their latest interest into their morning routine by carving out 15 to 30 minutes of free time between the ‘chores’. With something to look forward to, they may feel that push to get out of bed despite the wintry atmosphere.
4) Use rewards and incentives
Kids love to be rewarded for good behaviour, and doing so can encourage them to keep repeating that good behaviour. To help your kid get out of bed during the dark mornings, try incentivising them with something they’ll appreciate, and have a reward planned for them later in the day.
The incentives and rewards don’t have to be anything fancy! Maybe you can promise to let them choose the car’s playlist during the school run, arrange to cook their favourite meal when they get home from school, or let them have an extra 15 minutes of screen time before dinner.
Continuously rewarding your child for good behaviour should motivate them to repeat these positive actions until they become a habit. Things might be a little difficult right now, but soon they could be leaping out of bed with a huge smile and no prompts or nudges at all!
5) Set a good example
Lastly, but most importantly, make sure you’re setting a good example. Nobody likes a hypocrite, and don’t underestimate your child’s ability to sense hypocrisy within you! How can you teach your child about the importance of routines, optimistic attitudes, and positive thinking if you don’t practice these qualities yourself? Help them adopt the right frame of mind by doing everything you’re telling them to do.
If you’re binge-watching a Netflix series, resist the urge to watch it in bed so that you don’t let the episodes automatically play on. We’ve all been there… episode three can turn into episode seven pretty quickly, and suddenly it’s way past our own bedtime. In addition, practice your own daily affirmations and greet your child in the morning with a happy, cheerful attitude. Setting a good example can do wonders for your child’s morning.
Delight, excite, and start the day right!
Wintertime is amazing for many reasons, but getting out of bed and starting the day isn’t always one of them… With a bit of work and some guidance, however, there’s no reason why the routine can’t be just as successful in the winter as it is in the summer.
Follow the above tips and see if you notice a difference in how your child perceives and responds to their morning routine. Every day is a fresh start, and one day your child will learn to appreciate this. If all else fails, wintertime means you can use Santa Clause as a backup to get them to do the right thing…