HELPING YOUR FAMILY START THE DAY RIGHT
You’ve probably seen cartoons that portray children leaping out of bed on Saturday morning-then hiding under the covers when Monday arrives. At least they do better than the stereotypical adult, who groans at the work-day alarm and at reminders that, even on Saturdays, one has to get up eventually.
Life deserves better than labor-and-hibernate cycles, and our children-also we ourselves-benefit immensely from losing the “Oh, no, another day” attitudes.
It’s hard to get up eagerly if your body is still starved for sleep. (Note also that children, adolescents, and adults have different typical sleep needs-which also vary from individual to individual-and that work and school hours aren’t always scheduled according to these needs.) What you can do:
- Get reasoned input from the kids on when they think they should go to bed or take naps. Whatever the final decision, they’ll be more cooperative with an understood routine and with assurance that their viewpoint has been considered.
- On open-schedule mornings, make it easy for early risers to avoid disturbing later sleepers: provide foods for getting breakfast independently, and quiet toys (or a soundproof rumpus room) for early-morning play. If outdoor play is an option, be extra-clear on the rules (e. g., staying in the fenced back yard).
- If anyone in your household (that includes you!!) shows symptoms of sleep deprivation, find and remedy the cause before worse problems develop. Consider overall stress levels, late-evening habits (work and/or screen time lengthens the physiological “shutdown” period), and bedroom atmosphere (including how much light gets in).
Even reluctant wakers get up early when something special is planned. You can’t schedule an elaborate family outing every day, but you can start any day with a pleasant ritual: a group meditation session, a walk around the block, a leisurely breakfast. Save the (often anxiety-provoking) news for later.
However your family begins the day, get up early enough so no one has to rush through anything-hurry poisons everything, especially attitudes. If that means everyone goes to bed an hour earlier and gets up an hour earlier, so be it: a day rightly begun is well worth such trade-offs.
If you treat your own job as a necessary evil to be endured until retirement, naturally you won’t be eager to get out of bed most mornings. Nor will your children be impressed to hear “you have to go to school so you can get the right job.”
The best way to maintain life enthusiasm is to keep learning, exploring, and developing. If your current job really is pointless to you, don’t be afraid to explore other employment. Or stop wasting your weekends on mindless screen time, and substitute home-improvement projects or volunteer work. Encourage your children to explore extracurricular activities, too-not to overload their free time or pursue your priorities, but to develop into their best long-term selves. Regardless of age or circumstances, people with well-defined life purposes are masters at greeting each new day with joy!