The Christmas season can motivate children into the best of behaviors.
The upcoming holiday chides plenty of children into acting their best, cleaning up after themselves and smiling for pictures.
Now add waking up to that list.
A few months ago, my wife and I discovered a solution to a common problem for parents, namely getting your bundles of joy out of bed and ready for school. Alarm clocks are too easy to snooze. If you turn on the lights, they just close their eyes tighter. Even shaking them only works if you keep shaking until they’re out of bed.
But music? Music moves you, literally. We began blasting the “Presidential and Vice Presidential March” at 6:45 a.m. to speakers in each bedroom to shake them. Then we’d stir them with a child’s song, “Rise and Shine” by Rafi. If that didn’t move you, certainly “Rise, Shine and Give God the Glory” by Dionne Warwick would. Certainly by the time they got to the ninth song on the playlist, “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars, they’d get the idea they had to move.
We called our playlist “Get Up.” This worked nearly flawlessly for months. Then, as Advent began, we decided to liven up our musical repertoire with the songs of the season.
At first, it was as much of a disaster as Santa giving children socks.
Frankly, I got too clever. We kicked it off with Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” thanks to its opening lyrics, “I’m dreaming…” Funny for sleeping girls, right? Then it kicked into my favorite Christmas performance, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.
While they’re both a pair of Christmas classics, it was six minutes of dreamy crooning that didn’t exactly inspire action. They’re perfect songs for cozying up next to the fire, not jumping out of bed and facing your day.
Two days later, we juggled the list with some more buoyant tunes at the beginning. Each morning, we dare our children to sleep through the bilingual upbeat classic “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano. If somehow that doesn’t get them moving, we get them giggling with a live version of Adam Chandler’s “The Chanukah Song.”
Before you know it, they’re dancing along to Andy Williams’ upbeat “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” or pondering the meaning of life and Santa with Elmo & Patsy’s “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” We usually sneak in a religious song before someone stops the playlist, using “Mary, Did You Know?”
It truly is a great way to start the day, hearing songs everyone knows and loves. It reminds them of the season. It reminds them of the joy. It reminds us all, as Nat King Cole himself sang, “Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.”