In these trying times, I am often hearing parents struggle with morning routines, and getting their teens out of bed. With the lack of externally imposed structure, many children and teens tend to sleep in. This happens despite parents getting upset, and nagging or yelling at them to get up. As many discover, that just doesn’t seem to work.
As a result, the mornings become a time of stress when many times Mom and Dad must be focused on work projects, phone calls and keeping the household running. They feel pressure to get through school assignments that many children could simply ignore. Thus, while their teens are sleeping…many parents experience a growing frustration.
Let’s see if we can start to manage this better.
Four Keys to Managing Daily Routines
1. Control the Controllable. Abandon Efforts to Control the Uncontrollable.
How often does this happen? You try to get your children to shut down their electronics, and they refuse or worse yet, they just ignore you. You get worked up, start yelling and threatening them, but nothing happens. You beg and plead and remind them of schoolwork tomorrow and still…nothing happens.
Look where your attention and energy are focused. You are trying, through the use of your words, to convince your teen to listen. And yet they don’t. This is an example of trying to control the ‘uncontrollable.’ Your child!
If your children were simply ‘controllable,’ no one would read these articles or ask for help. But in reality, they are not controllable. (Of course, you can greatly influence their choices, but that is vastly different than control.)
So, what is controllable? In today’s world, most of you are dealing with one primary distraction that is in your control : Electronics.
And the electronics are easily controllable, if you assert your authority. Don’t argue over getting the phone shut down. Take control and shut it down. You may have to call your phone carrier, to shut down the data package. And then, you also must control the router in your home. Both require some effort on your part. However, once you do that, you now have controlled one of the major controllable that wreak havoc on daily routines.
2. Controlling What Kids Care About Gives You Leverage.
For many of you, your teenager cares little if you are upset with them because they are still in bed. They sleep away rather blissfully. You can quickly discern that your being upset has ZERO leverage. So, why waste the energy and time when you do have leverage by controlling what they care about. Again, for the most part right now, most of the leverage comes from control of the electronics.
Thus, for bedtime, I invite you to stop reminding, nagging or demanding that they go to bed. Instead, ask them to put their phone (and any other electronic distractions) into your bedroom by 10 pm. Of course, they will not. (I am not delusional.) Let them know that they will incur a 24 penalty if the device is not there by 10 pm. Again, it will not be there. We know this.
So, what do you do? Remember that your job is now to start controlling what you can. You shut down the phones, the internet, the electricity to the basement if you have to.
But rather than getting upset over the kids not listening, you instead focus on what they care about. This is now your leverage.
3. There Will Be Drama. And Lots of It.
Drama will unfold. The crying, the upset and name calling will go on. So you must expect it, and then… ignore it.
Focus on controlling what you can. Allow the kids to adjust. But do not resist the drama or try to stop it. (As again, you can’t control what comes out of your teenager’s mouth. You CAN control what happens to his or her phone, as a consequence of that.)
But the bottom line is that change requires growth, and growth is often painful. Your children, if in bed till noon, need to grow a bit. So, expect a bit of pain as you assist in their growth.
4. No More Nagging, Prodding, Pushing or Yelling! You Are DONE!
Under no circumstances do you nag, push, plead, or pull to get them going. Stop all engagement of their procrastinating, moaning and complaining. If they stay in bed, pull the covers off the bed and open the windows. Don’t say a word when doing so. Keep your energy moving forward.
You cannot keep engaging your children (with your attention and energy) for the behaviors that you don’t want…if you want to end up with the behaviors you do want. Yelling at them while they are in bed, or complaining repeatedly about how slow they are, or pulling them through each phase of the morning only serves to worsen the very habits that you want to change.
Final Insider Secret: Time is on your side. Be patient. Hold the course, and control the goodies they care about, and use that leverage. Let them resist, but eventually they will come around. There is much to learn here, but these are the fundamentals to getting the day started on the right track. Best of luck and have a great year!