I think I’d sell a kidney for the secret of how to get teens out of bed in the morning.
At 14, Flea loves to sleep. Specifically, she loves to sleep in.
My daughter will happily stay in bed until late afternoon, if I let her. During the week, though, she needs to be awake, dressed and out of the house by 8.20am. And it’s always a battle.
Remember when the battle was getting them into bed? Crikey, I miss those days.
Being an excellent *cough* parent I first adopted the approach of “natural consequences”. So if Flea missed the bus, I’d make her walk to school, and be late. This worked flawlessly until it turned out that Flea’s school couldn’t care less if she’s late, and Flea started to quite enjoy walking to school.
Anyway over the past six months I’ve been trying a variety of techniques that might help you get your teens out of bed in the morning. I’ve also asked my Instagram followers for their top tips.
So if you’re also struggling to know how to get teens out of bed in the morning, here are some ideas that might be worth trying:
Lay the Groundwork
When dealing with sleepy teens, do try and remember that they’re not generally TRYING to be lazy.
I accept that Flea is probably more of a night owl, and she’s at an age when her body needs more sleep than me. So I do what I can to maximise the quantity and quality of her sleep.
We’ve invested in new pillows, and blinds for her bedroom that block out the light. We stick to a bedtime that allows for 10 hours sleep, and I restrict caffeine for a couple of hours before bed.
Start the Morning Friendly
I do know that some parents (including my old foster Dad) like to wake teens with water guns or wet sponges but honestly, that’s not my style.
Flea is already enough of a dragon in the mornings without me doing the equivalent of poking her with a stick. So I do make an effort to wake her gently, and say, “Good morning, lovely girl,” because God loves an optimist and I figure if I assume she’s lovely, I have a tiny chance that it might come true.
Do the Prep
Lately I’m trying to make sure that over the weekend we wash ALL items of sports kit and uniform ready for Monday, regardless of when it’s needed. That means no matter when Flea wakes up, there’s no rush to the tumble drier or time wasted looking for clean tights or her sports shirt.
I also encourage her to pack her school bag the night before, for the same reason. This works about 75% of the time, which in teen world, it’s basically a miracle.
It’s not exactly about how to get teens out of bed in the morning, but it does make the morning less stressful if you ARE running late.
Feed your Teen
Some of my Insta followers recommended tempting teens out of bed with a cooked breakfast – there’s nothing like the smell of crispy bacon to get a teen heading downstairs in the mornings!
I like this idea but we’re a little more low-maintenance so I do try and stock up on tempting breakfasts that are low to zero effort. Toaster waffles, pre-made fruit smoothies, pain au chocolat and Pop Tarts are all quick to grab and tempting to a teen.
Having said that, Flea is very frequently just not hungry in the mornings, so if I can shove a multi-vitamin and a carton of smoothie in her hand, I tend to count that as a victory.
Alex (Repeated) Alarms
Alexa can be a big help in getting teens out of bed in the morning.
We are huge fans of setting daily alarms, using them as reminders through the week, as well as a wake-up.
If you set multiple alarms on your Alexa, it’s possible to wake up, snooze for 5 minutes, then have another alarm, with a daily briefing that can include reminders. For example, Alexa reminds Flea on a Thursday to wear her CCF kit, not school uniform, and to go to her spinning class on a Friday.
Top tip, though: DO remember to push the little ‘microphone off’ button at bedtime, otherwise your teen will simply mutter “Alexa, stop” and go straight back to sleep. Flea is quite capable of doing this three or four times in a morning, and having no recollection of it at all.
Physical Alarm Clocks
One of my latest ideas is to move away from the too-easily ignored Alexa alarm, to a physical alarm clock.
We can put this on the other side of the room so that Flea has to physically get out of bed to turn it off. I’m interested in trying out an alarm that simulates daylight – I’ve used one of these devices from Philips for quite a few years and it definitely helped me to wake up feeling less groggy.
Send in the Pets
It’s a lot harder to be grouchy when it’s an adorable puppy on your bed. I have been known to go and deposit Teddy on Flea’s bed in the mornings, but the danger is that Teddy will simply snuggle up and take the opportunity for a snooze with one of her humans!
Restrict your Teen’s Phone Access
Lots of teens will use their phones as an alarm so there’s an argument for having phones in their bedrooms. But removing phones will likely give them better quality sleep. That’s not the only benefit, however.
Removing phones can be a great way of getting teens out of bed in the morning. After all, what more motivation do you need to get up than knowing you have to go downstairs to look at Snapchat?
Back in the day, my mother would turn on our lights in the morning to give us a bit of a rude awakening.
It’s 2019 so a kinder version of this is using “smart” lighting.
We have a Philips light strip in Flea’s bedroom that gradually turns on the run-up to the alarm activating, with a daylight tint. It’s tied to the Alexa alarm, so that I can say for example:
7.00am – gradually turn lights on over 30 minutes
7.15am – first alarm
7.30am – second alarm
7.32am – play Radio One (if I’m feeling mean, I swap this to Wham’s Wake Me Up Before you Go, Go)
I’m not sure if the light strip makes a huge difference, but it’s worth a try, and definitely doesn’t hurt. Also Flea loves it, just for when she’s hanging out in her room.
My friend Ruth tells me there are phone apps that track sleep patterns and activate your morning alarm when it detects a period of light sleep.
Using an app called “Sleep Cycle” you can set a 30-minute window when you want to wake up, and the app will wake you at any point during that window when it detects lighter sleep. The theory is that waking up is less painful. If no light sleep is detected, the app will wake you up at the end of the 30-minute window.
Natural and Unnatural Consequences
If your teen can be allowed to experience negative consequences, then this might be the best approach to getting teens to get themselves out of bed.
After all, kids have to learn at some point to get themselves up and to a job, or study. So if they’re late and get a detention, or have a long, uncomfortable walk to school, perhaps that’s worth a try?
Alternatively try unnatural consequences of not getting up in time – like my friend Michelle, who gives her teens 5 minutes after the alarm goes off to get out of bed. After that she goes in with the referee’s whistle. Another solution that might work better is the friend who will take her teen to school if needed, but “fines” them the cost in time/petrol, and it gets deducted from their allowance.
So there you have it – 11 top tips to get your teen out of bed in the morning. If you’ve got top tips that have worked for your family, then I’d love to know!