When you’re a parent of school-aged kids or teens, there’s only one thing harder than getting them to go to sleep: getting those kids to wake up in the morning. As they get older, it often becomes more and more difficult to get them to rise and shine. And the later they are, the more flustered, out of sync, and rushed they feel — which can screw up their schedule and mood (not to mention yours) for the whole day. We know it’s tempting to revisit the ice bucket challenge upon your stubborn middle schooler after 30 minutes of gently shaking them doesn’t elicit more than a snore — but hold off.
One way to make waking up easier? Make sure kids are getting enough sleep at night, with kid bedtime rituals to chase those precious eight hours. And there’s a particular art to getting older kids to sleep. But regardless of your kids’ ages, there is no shortage of creative ways to get those snoozers up and at ’em — and we spoke with 10 real moms to prove it.
Here are moms’ top tips for rallying the troops in the A.M. — and none of them involve yelling. Shocker.
Lori, mom of a middle schooler, tells SheKnows her wake-up-call key is adding a little rock ‘n’ roll to the morning. “I put on Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ — the beginning of the song. Turn the volume up to 10! If you don’t know it, go listen — you’ll understand.” Playing one of your kids’ favorite songs (or yours, if you don’t want to hear what qualifies as music these days) in the morning, and gradually increasing the volume is a great alternative to the annoying alarm clock that gives everyone a heart attack when it goes off.
Hone your acting skills
Mom Razwana essentially puts on a show to get her son get out of bed. “I created a character named ‘Tiny Tim’ (yes, I know, so creative) who speaks in a high-pitched voice, almost like Elmo. Tiny Tim runs across my son’s back, slipping and sliding (his legs are my index and middle fingers), and within 30 seconds my son is giggling. Tiny Tim also likes to pick parts of his body and jump on them, help him open his eyes… Lastly, Tiny Tim celebrates by jumping from one shoulder to another when he is finally up.” Can you think of a better way to start the day than with giggles?
Or, your trumpet skills
Teresa tells SheKnows that when her husband, who is in the military, is home, he tackles wake-up duty: “As loudly as possible, he makes trumpet noises like they do in the military to wake everyone up. That always does it… When he’s not home, if they don’t get up when I ask them, I threaten to buy their dad a real trumpet. They always leap out of bed going, ‘No, no, no, nooooo!'” For those of you who aren’t blessed with the ability to make trumpet noises, you can definitely get creative with your wake-up noise of choice. Even if it’s just fart noises really close to their faces.
Feel free to be evil
Tami, mom to two sons, has a harsher plan of attack to raise her kids from slumberland. “When I have a hard time getting my sons up,” she tells SheKnows, “I shake them and say, ‘Honey, school’s cancelled!’ and they leap up with a smile and say, ‘Really mom? No school?’ To which I deviously walk out of the bedroom and say ‘Nope, JK.'” Pure evil. I like it.
Let tech help
Jodi, mom of three, uses technology to her advantage in the mornings. “Each of my boys have a Google Home Mini in their room,” she tells SheKnows. I go in about 10 minutes before wake-up time, open the curtains, and kiss them each good morning. Then, when it’s time to get up, I ‘broadcast’ — ‘Wake up, it’s time for breakfast.’ The mini broadcasts in their rooms simultaneously. It has funny sound effects: a rooster sound for wake-up and a bell for breakfast. If that doesn’t work, on occasion I’ve taken out the mini bullhorn. It usually does the trick.”
There’s always bribery…
Sheri, who has four girls, tells SheKnows, “Breakfast bribe is the way to go — say, ‘If you don’t get up, you don’t get special breakfast.’ (It’s not usually special.) One of my daughters is fiercely competitive, so a challenge always gets her going. I say, ‘I’m faster than you; I’m going to beat you downstairs!’ If that doesn’t work, I up the ante with one of my faves after I’ve tried everything: ‘No snack or electronics tonight if I beat you downstairs!'” Challenge accepted.
…and frozen marbles.
Li tells SheKnows, “I was miraculously blessed with one ‘morning child,’ so I only ever have to worry about my son, who sleeps through his alarm daily. I keep a bag of frozen marbles in the freezer. If he won’t get up, I dump them into his bed. They will roll wherever his body goes, and it leaves no mess.” Much better than the ice-water plan. If frozen marbles are a little too much for you, try slipping a hot/cold pack under their sheets by their feet (then, only one body gets chilly).
Enlist the pup
Cindy tells SheKnows she uses her pets to her advantage, “I send in the tail-wagging-super-happy-loves-to-give-lick-kisses puppy and open all the shades! The dog won’t stop licking them until they get up.” If you don’t have a dog, (or your dog is like mine and would just curl up with your kid and go back to sleep) buy a faux-fur pillow or really hairy stuffed animal, and try tucking that under their covers while yelling, “Raccoon!” Not that I’m speaking from personal experience, but it will work. Trust me. Apologies to my brother.
Or try a foot massage
Victoria says, “A foot massage is the only way to go. My 10 year old claims he can’t wake up without it.” Hmm, suspicious claim — we adults should try that. But hey, it’s worth researching reflexology for kids, or checking out these tips for giving a baller foot massage. Also, please wake us up like this, too. Thanks.
Establishing a morning routine that works for you and your kids is tricky, but that word — routine — is key. Keep your mornings light and happy by trying these tips — and leaving plenty of time for all parties involved to stare at the cereal box for 20 minutes while their brains warm up (or fall back asleep in the shower for an extra five). You’ll be happy, and your day will go better when everyone is less stressed to start their day.