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Follow Your Own Advice, or Method in my Madness

I've been going nuts and needing your help.




I've been having problems with the MORNINGS.




I'm not a morning person. I come from a family of people who will fall asleep on the carpet in front of the TV at 2am instead of going to bed (we see you, Uncle Pat ), and then snooze through 5 alarms the next morning.


I am fascinated by time, and sleep ( I swear I need 9 hours a night to function optimally), how we work within it and how it affects us. This book is on my reading list and I'll get to it when I have more TIME...

Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired, by Till Roenneberg


Researchers suggest that our body clocks are 'fixed' and there is not that much we can do about it:

"Animal studies suggest that being a morning person or an evening person may be built into our genes, like having red hair or blue eyes. This may explain why those of us who are early-to-bed, early-to-rise types, or late-to-bed, late-to-rise types, find it so hard to change our behaviour."


Here is my problem, which some of you may relate to:

  • The kids struggle to get to sleep at night (they lie awake for a long time),
  • they are tired in the morning,
  • I find it painful waking them when they look so sleepy (particularly as I value sleep so highly myself - see above),


Anna sleeping


  • so we don't have much time to get ready for school,
  • at the last minute the rebel daughter finds some important task to carry out that couldn't possibly have been done earlier,
  • I start shouting and screaming and tearing my hair out,
  • we say goodbye at the school gates and I don't see them again until half past three.


I really don't know what to do, I thought to myself. I am going to have to post a message on my blog and on facebook and ask for help, find out what other people do. Get some advice.

Then I remembered one of my own personal affirmations: Follow Your Own Advice.


"Alright," said Voice 1. "What would I say to a friend if she asked for help with an issue like this?"

"I'd probably sit down with a piece of paper and lead a coaching session," said Voice 2. "Ask her what her aim was, what was currently going on - what successes she'd had and where the gaps were, ask her to brainstorm possibilities and then come up with some actions."

"And almost certainly, one of the options would be: wake the kids up earlier in the morning (20 minutes... just not long enough to get ready)."

"Alright, said Voice 1. "Can I follow my own advice? Can I wake them up earlier?"

"But it's SO sad waking a blissfully sleeping child!" said Voice 3.


Anna sleeping


"But it's so SAD shouting at your children every morning before school," said Voice 2.

"How about trying waking them up earlier and seeing?" proposed Voice 4. "Then you can evaluate and decide what you do."


(Are you worried about the voices in my head? Should I be???).


Inside out pixar disney


"Alright," the first voice replied. " I can't argue with that."


Reader, I tried it.

All this week, I've been waking the kids up 15-20 minutes earlier than before; they've been getting themselves dressed; have had time to open their advent calendars; the rebel has only once disappeared upstairs just as we were due to leave; I barely shouted at her for it, and it has been good. Better.

The only downside is... they ARE TIREDER. In the evenings, my daughter's behaviour in particular has been... trying (more on that another time), and I think it is due to tiredness.


'I think you are tired,' I told her.

'I am NOT tired, I am ANGRY!!' she said.

'Yes. I get angry when I am tired. I think you are tired,' I said. (SOOOO annoying, parents).

'Best to go to bed early tonight.'


But that part hasn't followed along as smoothly as the first bit. I need another intervention to sort out bedtimes now.


Any thoughts??

So I can hear a different voice from (one of) my own??


Next time I will post a 'pretend' self-coaching session for people to Try At Home. I often use tips I picked up from my coaching course to self-coach when I get stuck, and find it really helpful -

when I remember to FOLLOW MY OWN ADVICE ;-)


We all know more than we think - the trick is knowing which voice to listen to!


Have a great week,

Elizabeth, aka The Writing Parent







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I completely relate to this, my son is increasingly a night owl, he actually could stay up longer than me but is so grumpy in the mornings. My top advice for earlier sleep at night would be a "no screen" policy for at least the hour before bed, and have the traditional bath and story, maybe also a family game first. Now my son is older we have "companionable reading" where we snuggle up each with our own book and read to ourselves. Good luck!

The Writing Parent

Thanks so much for your comments! Great tips.
The bath and story and a cup of tea bedtime routine works well for my son, who used to really struggle with getting to sleep. The family game and 'companionable reading' are nice new ideas for me.
Just a detail: do you read together in the living room or in a bedroom?


I also totally relate to this! I am a night owl and so really struggle to get my kids into bed at a reasonable time, and my eldest son is the only one who gets up early(ish) with no complaints. Thank Goodness for advent calendars, which make my two youngest spring out of bed these days! I have also found that allowing for an extra twenty minutes in the morning makes a huuuuge difference to everyone's behaviour, and therefore adds a warm & welcome flavour to the whole day (cos if you start the day off screaming, you know it's going to be downhill - or should that be uphill - all the way)... For nighttimes, I agree that cozying up together reading is a lovely thing to do and helps wind everyone down. A family game is also such a good idea, Anna! You can all go to bed feeling like a united family! Unless it gets too competitive, of course! I would also suggest a few minutes reviewing everyone's day - sometimes I can't get to sleep if I'm ruminating on something that's happened to me, but if I can talk about it to someone, the load is off my shoulders and I can stop night-time anxiety about it. So maybe making sure that any school or friend niggles have been reviewed and disposed of? And another thing: what about aromatherapy? Thanks for a lovely post, as usual! :-) Meredith

The Writing Parent

Yes advent calendars are a brilliant aid, aren't they?! I was wondering if there is some way of extending the 'something to get up for' lure of the advent calendar to the other months of the year? E.g. making the kids a cup of hot chocolate to wake them up? We also do morning cuddles, which is a lovely way to start the day, but not great for getting up and ready on time!
That extra 20 minutes really does make a huge difference, doesn't it? I can't say I have eliminated ALL shouting in the mornings... but - progress, not perfection!!
Aromatherapy is a great idea too.

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