Having a child with Sensory Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, mild Cerebral Palsy, Anxiety and various other special needs issues does not make for good mornings. Trace (my eight) yr old is not a morning kid. He loves his sleep, and hates to going to bed. Two combinations that don’t work well together when it comes time to get up and get his butt into the educational learning seat. My mornings used to be filled with hair pulling, temper tantrums, screaming and whining. And that’s just from me!
Typical Morning Dialogue from Trace:
- I don’t want to go to school
- Why are you making me go?
- I hate school!
- I don’t like breakfast
- There’s nothing to eat I like
- My clothes don’t fit
Gosh, he’s such a blessed joy in the morning! After forty minutes of yelling and crying, while I wrangle clothes on him, get him fed, shoes on, lunch and knapsack ready to go out the door. I’m emotionally drained and exhausted. This happens every single morning, and it’s a far cry different from the happy kid we get after school who shares what an absolutely wonderful day he had.
I also dread bedtime. That’s when the arguing starts again. Trace hates going to sleep. He thinks he is missing out on stuff, wants to sleep with me, stay up and uses everything he can to get out of going to bed. So this week I decided to change things up.
Putting the Plan in Motion
With Trace you have to tell him how things are going to be, before they happen. It makes transitioning easier. So I sat down with Trace on Wednesday and set some ground rules. I also set up a system that so far seems to be working. It’s open for flexibility, but lets him know there are boundaries and guidance and I’m ready to go to battle if it means a good night sleep for him, and easier mornings for us.
Ground Rules for Distractions
Trace is addicted to electronics. XBox, Cellphone, Kindle Tablet. Netflix. YouTube. You name it and Trace is on it. So, I decided to use his addiction as a tool to help guide Trace into a better way of life. This system is working so far and Trace is happy to help and earn his time now. He’s also really great at understanding he has no time when he doesn’t do what he has to earn the time he wants to play.
All electronic time must now be earned.
- Taking out the garbage = 10 minutes earned on electronics
- Doing dishes = 15 minutes
- Read for twenty minutes = 20 minutes of game time
- Tantrums and bad behavior = lost time
Bedtime Routines are Important – Stick to them!
I have to admit, I’m not a mom who likes schedules. Being a blogger I go to bed at various times, wake up at different times and live by the seat of my pants. With Trace this is not good. So I’ve had to incorporate a bedtime routine that helps him stay on track and focused.
- Dinner 6pm each night
- 7pm read for 20 min
- 7:30 electronic time earned spent
- 8pm brush teeth, mom and son cuddle time watching 1/2 hour together on Netflix
- 8:30 lights out, night-light and cuddle stuffy armed and ready to go
- Getting out of bed = all electronic time earned lost for the next day.
Preparing the Night Before
Trace is picky when it comes to food he eats, clothes he wears. So we prepare the night before what lunch will be, what clothes he will wear, and I find this helps as he feels he has a hand in the decisions being made.
- Trace picks out his own clothes the night before
- I pour the cereal he wants in a bowl, put milk in a cup for the next day so he can pour it himself when he is ready to eat breakfast.
- Books, signed papers, agenda and other items are packed in the knapsack and ready to go.
A Reason to Get out of Bed
My 15-year-old gets up at 6am, eats and then takes a shower before school. He told me the shower helps him wake up and gives him a reason to get out of bed. So I decided to change-up Trace’s morning and flip his night-time bath to early morning. Now Trace gets up and takes a bath or shower for 15 minutes. Let me tell you what an amazing difference it’s been the past three days. He’s happier and less grumpy when heading off to school.