The Benefits of Getting Children to Bed Early at Night and Up Early in the Morning

Yawning Baby
Big Yawn from Baby #3

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Benjamin Franklin; US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 – 1790)

In our homeschooling adventure, there have been periods of time that we sleep until we wake up and there have been periods when we wake up early each and every morning.  I can emphatically say that we get much more done and feel so much better when we wake up early than when we sleep wait.  There are so many benefits to waking at the same early time day in and day out and some will vary by family.  Here are some of the reasons an early morning works for us …

WHY Should I Wake My Children Up Early?

  • Peace of Mind. I feel that I’m doing a better job of preparing them for their future when I wake them each day.  There are many paths the lives of your children may take.  How many of those will allow them to sleep as long as they like and start the day when they feel like it?  Some, but not many.  By waking them up early now, you are helping them establish good habits and it won’t be so hard to get out of bed later when they are adults.
  • The sooner you get the work done, the sooner you can play. What is play if it isn’t offset by a good hard day of work!  We can teach our children the responsibility of taking care of the important things first and then getting on with free time.
  • We are setting up a healthy rhythm for their bodies when early rising is combined with an early bedtime.
  • There is time for breakfast. (and, no, eating eggs for lunch does not count as breakfast!)
  • Much less rushing around trying to get things done.
  • More hours in the day! I’d challenge you to show me any other way to get more time to get your to-do list done each day.
  • More likely to be on-time for morning appointments, maybe even early!!
Sleeping Big Brother and Baby Sister
Big Brother Sleeping with His Newborn Sister

Maybe you have tried to establish a early rising habit but it just never stuck.  Try, try again!  It is so worth all the benefits.  If you never have tried, follow some of these ideas to get you started.

HOW Should I Wake My Children Up Early?

  • Be prepared! The first few days of an earlier rising time will be hard, but eventually their body rhythms will stablize.
  • Start on the Weekend. Sometimes, the trouble with waking up early starts on the weekend.  If you have a tendency to sleep in and be a little lazy over the weekend, Monday morning will arrive and you will not want to wake up early.  So, you’ll sleep in just one day and start waking up early tomorrow.  And you know how the rest of the story goes.  Check out my helpful article about getting over the weekend mentality.
  • Consistently.  They will adjust more quickly if they are getting up early six or seven days a week than if they only rise early two or three days.
  • Gently.  My best sleeper is my daughter and she is also the hardest to wake up in the morning.  I rub her back for a bit then pull her on my lap and talk to her about the day.  Then, I let her know what I’m doing – “I’m going to get your clothes out for the day.  Now, let’s take off your pajama shirt and put your favorite Hello Kitty shirt on … ”  and so on.  I talk first, then I act.
  • Establish a Routine. We get up, get dressed, brush teeth and go out to the couch to read for a bit while everyone gets in their “right mind” each morning.
  • Make sure they get enough sleep. Most kids need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night, depending on whether they nap and how old they are at the time.  I get my kids up at 7am each morning, so my preschoolers are in bed by 7pm or 7:30pm each night.  My fourth grader gets to bed by 8:30pm or 9pm.
  • Have a good breakfast. Their bodies need fuel and my kids wake up really hungry!  Even more so when we’re waking up early then when we were sleeping in each day.  Things like oatmeal, pancakes (which you can make ahead and put in the freezer) or scrambled/hard boiled eggs are easy and healthy ways to fuel up for the day.
  • Be awake and alert and happy yourself.  If a grumpy, tired mom is waking them up, things may not go as well as if mom was well-rested and smiling.  If you are still in your pajamas and fall back to sleep on the couch, they aren’t going to see the benefits of waking early.
Sweet Baby #4 in Her Favorite Sleep Position
Sweet Baby #4 in Her Favorite Sleep Position

As Mom and head teacher, you really need to be the one that champions this cause.  The first battle against early rising may be within yourself – take a few weeks to get yourself into a good sleep schedule before you start on the kids.  There is a wonderfully helpful article by Steve Pavlina about how he became a self-taught early riser when he had been a night-owl!  For our family, so many things run more smoothly when we combine an early rising time with a good solid schedule.  My days are less hectic and we get school done with enough time to play and laugh together.  I feel less stressed out een when life is stressful if I can make sure to get myself out of bed on time.

If you are feeling like life is a little too hectic or like you just can’t get the important things done, try waking up earlier.  It is a gold mine of benefits you may never have known existed.  Try out the ideas in this article and tell me how it goes!

One thought on “The Benefits of Getting Children to Bed Early at Night and Up Early in the Morning

  1. you had me sold until the last point…be alert and happy yourself. can you blog about how to do that?! hehehe

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