Early morning rules

{this picture was taken a few months ago, early one morning. i'm pretty sure isaac is regaling his tired mama with stories or dreams, here.}

This is what happens, more or less, every morning:

Isaias (4) wakes up the earliest, usually between 6 and 6:30. He is supposed to leave his room quietly, so as not to wake up Isaac, take his pull-up off, get dressed (or at least put underwear on beneath his jammies), and come quietly upstairs. And then he is supposed to play quietly upstairs: read books on the couch, play with his hot wheel cars, or play playmobiles, all quietly. [I'm not sure if you noticed, but the word "quietly" was used four times in that paragraph. Yep, that's the key.]

We've had seasons where he struggles with one or more of the above things. Usually, the waking-up-of-Isaac one. But for the most part, he does this well. Many mornings I come out into the living room and find him playing quietly, on his own.

And then there's Isaac (5). Isaac cannot seem to do anything quietly. He wakes up singing at the top of his lungs. He gets out of his bed noisily, leaves his room by slamming the door behind him, bounds up the stairs, runs across the kitchen and living room, and either begins playing (ahem, noisily), or runs cheerfully and loudly into our bedroom to say good morning to us. I love that boy, I do. I even understand him. I don't even mind so much being woken up by my cheerful boy, it's really just that I don't want him to wake everyone else up so early.

Now that it is so light in the mornings, or whenever Isaias struggles with the whole please-do-not-wake-up-your-brother thing, Isaac has also been up early. And when Isaac is awake, all of Isaias' manners regarding playing quietly are immediately thrown out the window.

And then there are two: jumping and leaping and hollering and wrestling and playing a game of football and climbing and yelling and building forts and running and all of those things boys do.

We live in a relatively small house. About one minute after Isaac wakes up, the rest of the house also wakes up. Sometimes one by one, sometimes all at once.

So I try to preempt that. The minute I hear Isaac come up, I creep out of our bedroom, so as not to wake Mark and Audra, slip into the hallway, so as not to wake up Ella and Adelia- who are at the other end of the hallway- and peek into the living room to remind the boys to please, please remember to play quietly together since everyone else is still sleeping, and to abstain from all jumping and leaping and hollering and wrestling and playing a game of football and climbing and yelling and building forts and running and all of those things boys do. You know- read a book! play Legos! sit still and do something- but please do so quietly!

I'm not always cheery about this, since, you know, I was sleeping one minute before this. After about the third consecutive time of doing this, I'm really not cheery about this. I usually flop back into bed, all bitter-like, and whisper loudly to Mark about how this makes me crabby. Just how difficult is it to remember not to run pell-mell across the hardwood floors at 6:07 in the morning!? And really, must I remind them every.single.morning not to holler?! Everyone else in the house is trying to sleep! Grr!

Often, then, I begin my morning grumpy. Grumpy because I was awakened from precious sleep, or because one of the girls was awakened before they were ready (which then, you know, affects the entire morning until nap time comes around- because they're tired and fussy), and grumpy because I'm having to deal with correction issues before 6:30 in the morning.

Other than my attempts to manage the noise from my bed- or rather, quick trips from my bed to whisper fiercely into the living room- I've also attempted the following:
-Get up earlier, so that I can monitor the noise level. This works. It's just that I'm not always motivated to get up so early. And I am naturally an early riser, but to ensure that I get up earlier, it would have to be in the five o'clock hour, and that's pushing it.
-Change my (grumpy) attitude. Or- pray about my grumpy attitude, at least.
-Discipline them when they're too noisy.

The whole both-boys-up-early scenario occurred again over the weekend. On a Sunday morning. The only morning of the week that we can "sleep in" (until 8:00). I think the boys were both up a few minutes before six, and I was cranky. I waited, and sure enough- heard Isaac come upstairs, and bang the hallway door as he ran into our room to, you know, say "GOOD MORNING!!!" and give me a kiss. And then bang the hallway door again on his way back out. About a minute later, Adelia woke. Then Ella. Then Audra began stirring, and I began muttering to Mark about it. (Mark, who was sleeping until I woke him up. Because he can sleep through anything. Isaac even came over to his side of the bed to say "GOOD MORNING!!!" and I'm pretty sure Mark slept through that, too.) I said something about getting up to talk to the boys before Audra woke up and Mark said he'd take care of it.

A few minutes later he went out to "take care of it" while I hopped into the shower before Audra was fully awake.

I asked him later what he'd done. He said, simply: "I just told them that the new rule is that they have to stay downstairs until you tell them they can come up in the mornings. I told Isaias to go into the playroom when he wakes up and Isaac to stay in their bedroom when he wakes up."

And that was that.

All of a sudden I felt really dumb for not coming up with that idea on my own.

I have yet to ask Mark why it took him so long to come up with this brilliant idea. [...Honey? Feel free to chime in, here.]

But it works, this new rule. I woke up this morning at 6:15, on my very own, and everyone else in the house was still asleep (save Isaias, who I faintly heard downstairs). I came out into the living room with my Bible and journal and had a full forty-five minutes of quiet, happily reveling in the fact that all of my girls were able to sleep without being startled awake.

I am so thankful for Mark. Naturally, I would be more thankful had he saved me a lot of grief and enforced this rule, say, a year ago. But I am thankful all the same.


  1. My Isaac does the same thing at 6 am or earlier. Eli seems to be following the early morning pattern too. He is only 7 months (this Thursday) so maybe it will change.

    The bummer is we don't have a basement!

    I so get the grumpy mama thing at 6am :o)

  2. I suddenly feel like a mean mom for making Adon stay in his bed until 8 o'clock. I am NOT a morning person and 8 is my limit.

  3. Sometimes the simplest solutions are hardest to see, especially with our tired eyes! How wonderful Mark was there to think of it!! And yay for the new rule working!! ;-)

  4. And now you know MY secret- nobody is allowed out of their rooms until 7 AM. It occurred to me one day when I was the mother of five, "why is it I am letting one child determine when everyone gets up in the morning?" At that point the rule was "no getting up until the hall light is on". I still have to give reminders and discipline sometimes, but I'm a whole lot happier!

    Renee B.

  5. Love it. Sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective... or maybe just a more well-slept perspective. ;-)

    I have an early-riser too. For us it's the one hour of the day that we let Steele watch a video or a little t.v. It keeps him still and quiet, lets Adia (my night owl) sleep and gives me a little time to wake up. And to be honest, I have never really been a morning person but I've really enjoyed being able to start my days a earlier. Feels more efficient somehow.

  6. Sandi,
    It's all in the name! :) And uh-oh about Eli! :) You're in for some early mornings through the years!

    You're not mean. You're wise.

    I am sure the idea of not allowing my boys upstairs has come up before- not by Mark, perhaps- but I have very good friends who have done this, and I've certainly heard of it before. But I tend to feel guilty about those sort of things-- and would have said the same thing as you: "I feel like a mean mom." [Clearly I had to get to the point of desperation to accept wisdom for what it was!] Great job figuring it out a whole lot earlier than I did!

    Exactly! Yay for husbands!

    Well, thank you for saying it took you until you were the mother of five also!

    I see now that it makes such good sense- I love your common-sense question: "Why am I letting one child determine when the rest of the family wakes up?" Yeah!

  7. Cutzi,
    Hi there! You must have been commenting while I was responding.
    I know the Hollisters have done that, too- with the videos to buy them more sleep. Do you go turn a movie on for Steele and then climb back into bed? Or does he do it all himself?

  8. Ah! Mornings! They make or break our days around here too. I'm so excited that the end of your post included a solution that is working for you! It was like a super happy ending to a movie that I thought was going to end with "I'll just have to get up earlier." Hooray for Mark and for your basement space!

    At our house, the "rule" is stay quietly in your bed when you wake up. (This is difficult for most of them. And they are all in the same room.) Some seasons, I have allowed them to get up and turn on the light for "quiet reading time" in their beds at a certain time. Other seasons, it's me that decides when or if they get this reading time in the morning.

    I've always felt that if I'm not up, there shouldn't be any kids up and about in the house so that remains the standard but it's starting to look different as the kids all want to get up and go to the bathroom when they wake. I can't really tell my almost-dry-all-nighters that they can't do that so we're working on a transition!

  9. Hi Stacy :) What a great topic! Our sweeties stay quietly on their beds until Daddy or Mommy comes and get them up.

    Miss M usually reads.

    Mr S plays with his bed friends.

    M can get up to go to the bathroom if she needs to (she knows how to do it with her "quietest quiet feet" and not wake anyone).

    Our house is small and we have wood floors, so learning to be quiet for others is a biggie around here ;)

    Love & hugs, Q

  10. I think it is good for them too. Really, they get very little time as stay at homeschoolers to play alone and quiet. It is a good skill.

    Also, I love Proverbs 27:14 "If anyone loudly blesses a neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."

    In our family the mornings are the only time that the kids play independently [meaning not at my feet]. Oh and nap time too.

    When they were younger and there were fewer of them (like when Aidan was 3) it took a video. Now they have that as an option but mostly choose legos or books. As the weather turns they often go outside during this time too (which I realize is a unique thing about where we live). Also allowing them to help themselves to a piece of fruit has aided in their wait for us all to be ready for breakfast at the same time.

    Anyway, I am so glad you have a better solution because it was killing me to read that you were getting up at 5 and the boys were waking your girls up at 6. Seriously, it was killing me to hear. :)

    Love you guys!

  11. I LOVE the Proverb!! The girls at my house like to sleep the boys are morning people and it is seriously hard to sleep with someone WHISPERING in your ear. I get up at 6:15 and you better not wake anyone up before that. Often the bed wetter gets up and plays in the tub before 7 but no one else is allowed to wake anyone else up before that. They can get up and read quietly before that. Oh I wish we had a basement!

  12. Oh I loved reading this. Such helpful hints for the future! Right now, Lena is just like me (not a morning person). She wakes very gradually after we are already up, and is content to read in her bed for a while. Now,however, I like to put her on the potty when she gets up so things are changing. Shana is probably going to be more of an early riser and she is LOUD! We're already seeing this, so these hints are sooo helpful to me. I'm starting gradually to have the girls share a room too, so I'm not sure how everything is going to pan out :-)

  13. I am laughing out loud and almost crying as I read this! I love how real your home is Stacy and how you share it so beautifully. Boys....holy cow. I might have to send you a few personal emails for help with little guys now that mine is getting older! And YEAH Mark!

  14. What a wise husband and you are indeed a blessed Mama. That time you made for the Lord will certainly transform any grumpiness to sheer JOY.

    Love you;
    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.