Morning Battles

One of the joys of Empty Nesting is getting up and leaving for school whenever I want to.  But I haven’t forgotten when my mornings went like this:

The alarm rings and I get out of bed, stumble into the the boys’ rooms, and wake them up.  After I shower I discover at least one boy still buried under the covers.  I remind him that I need to get to school early, and I head downstairs for breakfast.  Ten minutes later I find him still in bed, and now I start to threaten:  “If you make me late again, you’re grounded!”  This actually gets him out of bed, but he moves so slowly that I wind up sitting in the car waiting for him.  We leave 10 minutes later than we should, and I find myself dashing through the door at school a few minutes late.

To solve this issue, we tried several options which  met with partial success:  making lunches the night before, setting multiple alarms in their bedrooms, and promising a McDonald’s or Starbucks stop if we left early – all of which I recommend.

But what worked best for Matt, my most difficult morning riser, was sitting down with him and hammering out a customized Incentive Plan.

Because he liked complicated plans, we made it challenging.  If he could get up on time (and “on time” was clearly defined) for five days in a row, he would earn $5.00 toward the video game of his choice.  But if he went four days and then slept late on the fifth, he had to start all over again.  While he enjoyed the complexity of the plan, what he liked best was giving input on how it was going to work.

That’s your key to making mornings easier in your house.  Take the time to explain why tardiness is not acceptable, and then engage your kids in figuring out how to get up and out of the house on time.  When the plan you’ve agreed upon stops working, call a family meeting and come up with a new one.

(If all else fails – invest in a rooster.)



  1. We actually have a rooster, and the only way that will help is if we actually let the rooster sleep in the kids’ room. We’ve all conditioned ourselves not to hear it anymore:) Our incentive was a stop for a doughnut if they got out the door quick enough.

  2. I used to threaten my kids with throwing cold water on them. It was an idle threat but it always got them up more or less. I QUIT that after my oldest son, in my absence one morning, ACTUALLY threw water on his younger brother.

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