Mornings: Wakeups Are Always Interesting

"Sarah Ann sat up and looked over at Celia in her bed. Celia’s bed was closest to the doorway and closest to the bathroom. Celia was five and in pre-K. Mama said she was the bottom of the autism sandwich. She got to be in a regular classroom, though, and had extra help with writing, moving, and talking. Sarah Ann didn’t think the ladies working with Celia were getting very far, but Mama said to give it time. Celia was a lot quieter talking-wise than Sarah Ann most of the time, and Mama said she had a few more issues. Mama also said whenever Sarah Ann felt the need to point out those issues that Sarah Ann had plenty of issues herself and to watch it. Sarah Ann looked at the quiet, sleeping Celia and groaned again. Soon enough Celia wouldn’t be quiet, Sarah Ann thought. Mama said Celia had two states of being when she was around other people, either laughing or screaming, and it was hard to tell which way it was going to go.
Mama walked on past Celia without waking her. One of Celia’s issues was waking up and Mama said you had to pick your battles strategically. Waking Celia was one of those battles Mama needed coffee for first. "  from the chapter story for the girlies

The battle to make mornings go well is something I've had over 21 years of practice in. Of my three children, Lily (Sarah Ann in the story) is the easiest for wakeups. Rosie's the most difficult, the most likely to meltdown and the most certain to have trouble getting out the door. The story was written two years ago, and while things are more fine tuned today, we still have our moments, which we call Celia Louise moments.

There are things we've learned to do over the years to make life easier. Since Rosie has the hardest time, we get the other two kids up first and get them started. We also start our morning fairly early, at least an hour before we have to be out the door. An hour and a half is better, giving Rosie plenty of time to overcome any issues. Bobby, even though he wakes up easier, needs even longer to be ready to leave the house, so he has two to two and a half hours to get ready.

When kids don't have to rush and grownups don't feel pinched for time, things go better, even when they don't go great. When you've programmed the day with extra time, even when things go rough, it's not as stressful.

If I had to offer advice, if mornings are dicey, that's the easiest thing to do to make things easier on everyone. Less pressure on parents and children alike, and you've given yourself a boost.

The other thing we've implemented is a clear sequence of events that the kids can rely on. Knowing what's going to happen and when makes them more confident. Even when we can't decide on breakfast and even when we're certain we're too sleepy, we know that we have time for a little indecision and for lying on the couch with the blanket over our head.

There are other things that make it simpler. Backpacks packed and ready the night before. Baths taken at night. Clothes picked out by the girls themselves and laid out. Streamline the morning; the less they have to get through, the better the mornings are. It also helps to remind the girls the night before if there's a change in the routine.

None of this guarantees no meltdowns. Some mornings are still frustrating. But so far, by allowing extra time, along with these other tips, we don't go out the door crying, screaming or running late. Sometimes, it's a close call, and I'll be the first to admit that tomorrow morning, after four days of school missed,  all bets are off.

Maybe we'll get up a bit earlier? Just in case.


Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

I remember all of that morning ookiness. I hated it. Trying to get everyone out the door on time. Making sure everyone had everything they were supposed to have for the day. Ugh... Most mornings I wasn't exactly at my best. Rushing, and stressed, and stressing the kids.

We don't really have that anymore. And I know how lucky we are for that.

Good luck tomorrow my friend!

mamafog said...

Building in some lounge time for her in the morning is crucial. And a Sesame Street CD.

Love your story!

farmwifetwo said...

My eldest grumbled a little while ago about the fact his friends got to stay up later at night. Mine go to bed at 8:30pm. Even if they stay up later it's rare they sleep past 6am and over the year I might have to wake them a couple of times. But I asked him if he wanted to get up later in the morning and then not have time to watch tv and play his DS and have Mom yell at him OR, take his time like he has been.

Today they got up at 6:30. They are watching tv. They know at 7am is dress/eat time. Then they'll watch tv until 8. Get their stuff on/bathroom. They'll be ready before 8:30 and watch a little more tv.

Can't claim it goes 100% smoothly. But it works for us. Next year the eldest will be adding making lunch to the list (he makes his own now when he doesn't go to school), we'll do it before bed.

Anonymous said...

I am completely in agreement on the extra time thing. Showers at night, too. Anything that can be done the night before just saves on stress.

Morning or later in the day, everything runs more smoothly and everyone copes better when it isn't going so smoothly if we just leave enough time. Simon gets up an hour and a half before he'll be sitting on the bus. Sometimes the extra time is spent just getting dressed in slow motion. Sometimes it's spent under a blanket on the couch. Lately a few minutes is spent on the computer. Whatever works.

Having each child up and out the door before the next one is up is really helping this year, too, but we'll be losing that starting next year. Think I'll still be getting Simon up a while before Alvin, though. He really needs some alone time in the morning, and that's something I can give him.


D. S. Walker said...

Great post and I totally concur. Life became infinitely better at our house when we learned this one.