Is this your teen?

We used to call our daughter The Rooster. No matter what time she went to bed, at 6:30 am she was up and at ’em.  When she was 12 and still waking up at the crack of dawn, we figured we’d dodged the ultimate teenager bullet. She wasn’t going to sleep all day.  And then, she turned 14.  And started to sleep until 10, then 11, then 12.

Next down the ladder, child #2 started the Sleep of the Teen a bit younger. He was 13 when he spent Saturday mornings dreaming. My youngest, who is 12 and precocious in every way, has been dozing the pm for over a year now.

We all know that teens are notoriously nocturnal.  Changes in their circadian rhythms as they get older mean that they don’t get tired as early.  So, they go to bed late.  According their Facebook posts, my kids are often up until 3am. But, they still need at least 9 hours of sleep. And so, the research shows, they snooze half the day while their hormones, brains, and bodies do the necessary work of growing. 

The problem is this.  Sometimes, they have to get up early.  Like for school.  Or a family brunch.

A few weeks ago, we were invited to a Sunday morning party at my sister’s house and it was my job to wake those three kids. The ungodly arrival time? 10:00am.  That was an experience I’m dying to repeat (insert sarcastic eye rolling).

For days before, I was debating how to accomplish the goal of getting a 17, 15, and 12 year old up at 8:30 am on a weekend – a wake-up time necessary to ensure both the boys’ personal hygiene and the girl’s lengthy grooming routine.

I wondered if Jamie Oliver’s father’s technique of throwing a bucket of ice water on his children while yelling ‘YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD’!!! would work.  But, I have carpeting upstairs that I wasn’t willing to drench.

These were some techniques I tried:

1. Prep- for Days Before:  ‘On Sunday, you have to get up at 8:30, guys.’  And ‘Don’t forget, we have that party on Sunday at Aunt C’s, so you can’t sleep until noon.’  They nodded as I said it, so I made the assumption they were listening. (First mistake of parenting. They were not listening. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now.)

2. Constant Reminders-  The night before, ‘Don’t stay up too late tonight, you have to get up tomorrow.’ ‘Be home before your curfew so you can wake up tomorrow, AS WE DISCUSSED.’  (see the not listening note from point #1)

3. Nagging and more Nagging- The husband is in charge of all morning wake ups. Its not that he’s better at nagging, it’s that I’m usually sleeping when we need to wake up. (Did I mention I need sleep also?)  He tries things like:  ‘Get up!’  ‘Its time to GET UP!’ ‘Get out of BED!  This is the LAST TIME I’M TELLING YOU!’

4. Drastically alter the environment-  pull off the covers, turn on the lights. Rip out the pillow from under their heads.

5. Resort to Threats-  ‘If you don’t get up right now, I’m going to WET WILLIE you.’  (That one usually has a measure of success.)

6. And Finally, Discomfort-  If all else fails, this is the card in the hand, the trump, the ultimate weapon.  My dog has the longest tongue in Canada, and likes to stick it in people’s ears, up their noses, and if it’s a really lucky morning, right in your mouth.  HELLO MORNING!

Needless to say, we were only 15 minutes late.  Bow to the master.

How do you wake your kids up?


  1. I have tried all of your suggestions except for the dog licking, which will now be my go-to. It’s gross enough to get them hopping. Even if they are mad. I still like the idea of icy water, and we have hardwood so it wouldn’t be so bad.

  2. My oldest was one of those Rooster kids and just like you said… JUST like clockwork last year at 12, she finally started sleeping. Middle has ALWAYS been a sleeper. I have pictures of her where she would just throw her blankie over her head and take a little nap.. not unlike a bird!


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