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Pragmatic Parenting: Early to Rise

Most of my clients likely do not realize that much of my stories about "other parents" are stories about my own parents. My parents were conventional in many ways, but upon reflection, I see that many of their parenting decisions were unconventional. I described their parenting as "pragmatic," or sensible and practical in a recent conversation.


Here is a simple example. As a child, I rarely "slept in." Some people are fortunate to be able to pop out of bed. I have talked with many parents about children that wake with the sun on weekends and vacations. That was not my experience. I recall having elective morning activities on Saturday and Sunday for most of my childhood. On Saturday, I had trumpet lessons, a lawn to mow, or a sidewalk to shovel at 8 am. On Sundays, we had church at 8:15 am. Early weekend morning activities were a theme of my childhood, and unlike school, none of these activities were required.


Why so early?


My parents' explanation was almost always some version of, "Get it out of the way so you have the rest of the day to do what you want." 8 am was prime time for my parents. Even now, I prefer productive mornings. I am not a morning person, necessarily, but I do enjoy how efficient I can be in the morning: no traffic, no crowds, very little waiting, few external demands.


What came of it?


A standard piece of advice I give to people regarding sleep disturbance is to wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends (i.e., do not sleep in). However, I see that my parents inadvertently reduced my chance of sleep disturbance while building skills around discipline and developing routines. I don't find it any easier to get out of bed in the morning than to walk the dog, but I do it daily and get some enjoyment out of it. As a child, I didn't particularly like playing the trumpet in my teacher's basement at 8 am, nor was I fully awake for church at 8:15 am, but I was definitely out of the house and ready for the day at that time. Then, of course, I went to school Monday through Friday, and getting out the door in the morning was no big deal. How would you like to have your Monday morning routine with your children be no big deal?


Pragmatic parenting


Having events at 8 am each Saturday and Sunday may not be practical for everyone, but looking at every day as an opportunity to establish a routine to get something done is. Also, many people I talk to see sleeping in as something they deserve or a reward for a tough week. Meanwhile, getting up on Monday morning is terrible after two days of sleeping in. Sleeping in is part of what makes the week so challenging. Examine the convention of weekends or even morning routines to see if you can generate more practical expectations for your life.

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