Awakening the baby: how to motivate late sleepers

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Philippe Gloaguen
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The awakening of the child

Perhaps never like this year we have wished the beginning of school: after months of forced abstinence from classmates, teachers, noisy classrooms, the sound of the bell, the time has come to start over. A little muted, with some more apprehension, from September 14 we started to set the alarm "like in the old days".
A change that, as expected and hoped for, is not always easy for children, who by now had tuned in to much slower rhythms, especially as regards sleep-wake habits, and which probably, after so many months of sleep, not even they remember what normal school was like.
Here are some strategies, suggested by the educator Elena Bear, to resume the morning routine in the best possible way e start the day with serenity.

Read also: 15 common mistakes you make in the morning (and which are best avoided)

For those who have not yet returned to the desks, gradually anticipate the alarm clock

In the period of distance learning, lesson times were more flexible and you woke up calmly. After school, then, the summer holidays began, during which we let our children sleep at will. And now, after so many months, it is not easy for them to get used to school "up early" again overnight. As far as possible then we try to anticipate the awakening time day by day, so that the transition from before to after is not abrupt. In fact, the younger the children, the more difficult it is for them to adapt and they need gradualness.

Go to bed earlier

If they have to wake up earlier and earlier in the morning, they will have to go to bed earlier in the evening, between 21 and 22 according to age and family organization. At first they will be a bit riotous, accustomed as they were to staying even after dinner hanging out on the sofa with mum and dad. We explain to them that, after the holidays, everyone in the family has to resume their usual habits: they go back to school, mum and dad go back to work, perhaps in smart working, so in the evening we won't be able to be late. We avoid categorical tones, such as "from tomorrow you have to ...", "now the free ride is over ...", on the contrary, we make empathic references to experiences already lived in the past, to recall the idea that, if they have succeeded first, they are able to do so even now.

Read also: The mistakes we make every morning (and how to avoid them)

Communicate the change

In addition to clarifying the new schedules, we explicitly communicate what will change in the morning and how we will have to organize ourselves. In fact, it is not enough for children to see that certain things are done for a few days to understand that the rules have changed, but someone needs to communicate it to them in an official way, so to speak, to sanction that there is a change of course. Otherwise they may feel that every day is all new and random and not know how to behave. We do not need great sermons, but a simple speech, to be given a few days before the start of school, in which we briefly say what will change and what will be done upon awakening. The words can be accompanied by other instruments at will: you can write together a list with the fixed steps to follow (breakfast, bathroom, dressing, in the order that is most functional for the family), a drawing depicting the activities in the morning, tags to attach to the wardrobe. In this way the child will feel empowered and involved in the new management and he will have the feeling, so reassuring to him, that he knows what awaits him and what is expected of him. And he won't be able to sneak off with a "nobody told me"!

Wake him up a few minutes earlier

Once the rules have been established and communicated, there are some strategies that can promote a peaceful awakening. The first is to go to him a few minutes before the scheduled time. In fact, we generally tend to let him sleep until the last moment believing that afterwards he will get up more rested and willingly, in reality it is difficult for children to magically pass from sleep to operation and usually they need some time to carburet. Better then to anticipate the alarm clock by about ten minutes, give him the first good morning and then let him laze a little longer in bed; at the second call we begin to raise the shutter, to discover him, to talk to him, perhaps offering him the most pleasant aspects of the day, so that he will wake up gradually and at the same time understand that there is no possibility of going back to sleep. After 2-3 calls he should get out of bed by himself: if he still has a deaf ear, just tell him in a more decisive tone that now it's time to get up. Without screams, which would serve no purpose but to put everyone in a bad mood.

Read also: Back to school with a smile: all useful information

Prepare your clothes and backpack the night before

In the morning it is good to avoid arguments and push and pull, both to save time and to avoid unnecessary tension. One of the possible battlefields may be the choice of clothing: there are children who accept without problems what their mother makes them wear, others who are keen to decide what to wear firsthand. Either way, better prepare the clothes the night before, so in the morning they are already on the chair and you don't have to worry about looking for the right combinations in the wardrobe.
Same goes for the backpack: at the beginning we will be able to help him, then he will learn to do it himself, however it is good to arrange it calmly in the evening, to avoid going in search of pencil case and notebooks at the last minute.

Accept the way they wake up

There are those who wake up perky and smiling, others more sulky: each of us has his own personal way of starting the day. If our child belongs to the second category, we do not think of a lack of respect towards us and we do not emphasize his behavior with jokes such as: "Can't you say hello?" "Did you wake up in a bad mood?", Otherwise squabbles are triggered that start the day with a bad foot. Let's say hello to him with a smile anyway (also to give a good example) and let him go into awakening mode at his own pace: a little at a time he will take his usual mood.

Let's help them where we can

It is true that, as they grow, children must reach new heights of autonomy, but if we help them prepare a little it won't be the end of the world! Because in the morning, in addition to the time factor, emotional factors also come into play, linked to the separation from the mother and the little anxieties of school. Creating a climate of collaboration and complicity - "come on, let's go: I put toothpaste, you brush your teeth, you take your shoes, I tie them to you" - is like a cuddle that disposes you to get up at a good pace and face better the day. On the contrary, standing there with your breath on your neck waiting for them to do it alone to the sound of "hurry up it's late!", Can be paralyzing and lead to tantrums. There will be other times in which to develop autonomy, such as in the evening, when there is more time and they can learn to undress and put on their pajamas on their own.  

Read also: Does the child not want to sleep? Try one of these 25 strategies

Let's get ready a little earlier

If we can, let's try to prepare ourselves first, at least for the main tasks, so that we can dedicate ourselves to him later. Otherwise, between the preparations for us and for him, time is running out and anxiety grows. It is true that in this way we will be forced to anticipate the alarm clock, but we will gain health!

The priority: less stress for everyone!

In conclusion, when we wake up, our priority must be to start the day in peace. And a lot depends on the climate that we adults create, because children, if they feel surrounded by calm and affection, are more collaborative; conversely, if they perceive an atmosphere of anxiety and tension, they become oppositional and nervous. And they make us waste even more time. Better not to pursue ideals of perfection that don't exist, but to make sure everyone leaves the house with a little smile. Ready to face the new day!

Read also: 15 tables inspired by the Montessori method to teach children how to organize the day

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