Winning the War of the Wake Up Routine

This article, entitled Challenge Accepted: Winning the war of the morning wake up routine comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear © on chicagonow.com.

This morning my kid and I struggled to decide between watching “World’s Dumbest Inventions” or “World’s Dumbest Hillbillies.” I know, right? Sometimes decisions are stressful, and always more so when you are tired. We were both exhausted.

School started yesterday and we are still in the summer mode of late to bed, late to rise, however even if we were not in the adjustment phase, neither of us are big fans of the morning.

Anyway, we decided on “World’s Dumbest Inventions,” and snuggled up on the sofa with the bofa (Sorry, could NOT resist a Dr. Seuss reference). I asked him if he was hungry. He was.

“Can I get a plate piled with meat?” he asked.
“Sure, let me go kill something.” I answered.
“You are one heck of a mom. A bold pioneer.” He complimented me – grinning.
“Doy.” I responded – getting up to get him a bowl of cereal.

So while we were enjoying the marvelous genius of the SWIH (you have to see it to understand), and adding the Doggie Doo game to both of our Christmas lists, he started shoveling cereal into his mouth absentmindedly. At least I thought so until he spoke.

“This is not meat. I thought you were a pioneer woman off to kill me some meat.”

This is typical. I have no idea where he gets his witty, sarcastic sense of humor. I laughed, but I also decided to take the opportunity to clear up any confusion that I would be doing anything different than last year when it came to breakfast before school.

“Dude, I’m going to do the once a week meat treat this year, like last year. The same rules will apply. You will be making your own breakfast before school the majority of the time.” I informed him – serious faced with focused eye contact.

I know, I’m a buzz kill, but in my defense, I had to take the opportunity to communicate with him when he was awake, alert and relaxed enough to receive the information.

His mouth peeled into a big grin and he said, “Because you’ll be too busy at sunrise out plowing the fields and milking the cows, right?”

EXACTLY. Clever boy expressed his understanding while letting me know that he understands why I’m not going to wait on him. He really does. He knows that the reason I do not plan to make it a habit to wait on him like this for the entire school year, at least not every day, is partially because I am busy from the get-go in the morning.

Some pioneer moms do wake up early and roll out the red carpet for their offspring, making a four-course meal and overseeing the morning routine while juggling their own duties. I’m not one of those moms. I want both my kids to be able to do things as independently as possible and feel empowered and responsible for their well-being.

I do not expect this to be the case at the start of a new school year though, and that’s why I’m doing a bit of hand holding until we all get used to the routine. And it’s not like I don’t ever cook up some pancakes for them on the regular. I just don’t do it every day.

If it seems that my son was exceptionally quippy and clever for a teen in the morning, know that this particular interaction is nothing compared to what he’s capable of. He was droopy tired from struggling the past few nights to re-adjust his sleep schedule for school. Bedtimes have been stupidly difficult, and waking up both of my kids for the past two mornings has been painful for all of us. I knew I’d also be addressing the sleep issue sooner or later as well, but based on the wake up we’d experienced this morning, I decided that sooner would be today.

My son claims that if I just yank off the covers and let the dog use him as a trampoline, he will shoot up and be ready to roll.

LIES.

I’ve tried this. He scurries like a cockroach when the kitchen lights turn on into the closest blanket to re-snuggle himself back into a deep sleep. I know the gentle method doesn’t work, but since it was only the second day of school, I took the gentle approach this morning. I pulled of the blankets and gave him a shake. No response. So I decided to be a bit less gentle and squeezed his nose, cutting off some of his air with one hand, and flicking the middle his forehead, hard, with the other hand after successfully coaxing the doxie to use his butt as a trampoline and his lower back as a salt lick.

NOTHING.

I considered grabbing his ankles and pulling him off the bed in one swift motion, but then common sense kicked in and I realized that in my own sleepy stupor, I didn’t think about how that might actually crack his skull. So I sat him up and blew a nasty whiff of morning breath in his face and pried his eyelids open with my fingers and said, “GET UP NOW!” I barked out a few more NOW NOW NOW’s in his face, thinking that would do the trick, but as soon as I let go of his eyelids and armpits, he slumped back down into the pillow.

I figured it was still semi-gentle to add flicking water in his face to the propping up and blowing of dragon butt breath in his face wake up effort. I took three times before it worked. I consider that my morning workout. I don’t anticipate it being this difficult once we all get back into the swing of the school thing, but I also know that he’s a tween-ager who has always been a good sleeper who LOVES his Zzzz’s.

I truly cannot do this everyday. I realize that teens are notorious for being difficult to wake and that their circadian rhythms are whack-a-doodle, but unless a kid has a sleep disorder or some other medical issue preventing them from waking up, I feel strongly that they MUST learn to do it. Their teachers, peers, professors and future employers aren’t going to care if they were tired and didn’t want to wake up.

That describes practically everyone. Self-discipline is what separates the men from the boys. I want him to be a man: A responsible, independent man who CAN plow through difficult things and be successful, starting with waking up for school and getting himself some healthy food.

It does take time to figure this stuff out and I’m willing to work with my son in order to figure out how I can help him with this without having to start the day with negativity. So I initiated the conversation.

“Dude, waking you up this morning was like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. I can’t do it like that every day. I really don’t know what to do or what’s going to work.” I said – serious as a heart attack.

“That’s cause you ain’t thinking outside the box, Lady!” he replied with his eyebrows raised and a naughty smirk on his face. “I can’t do this FOR you or you’ll never learn to do it yourself. Independence is important.”

OH YES HE DID.

“Challenge accepted.” I replied.

This is going to be one heck of a year.



About the Author...
Nicole Knepper
Nicole Knepper is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with two advanced degrees (psychology and gerontology) whose blog, "Moms who Drink and Swear," became the basis for her first book.
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