Children seem to differ in the amounts of sleep they need. Some sleep too much. The scriptures teach that we should cease to sleep longer than is needful, that we should retire and arise early. (See D&C 88:124.) Nowhere do the scriptures say, "Thou shalt sleep eight hours." Nor do they say, "Retire early unless you happen to be a night person." There must be an excellent reason for the injunction to retire and arise early. You and your children will profit by this counsel if you heed it.
President Marion G. Romney shared with us this powerful advice given to him by President Harold B. Lee when President Romney was first called as a general authority:
"If you are to be successful as a General Authority," Elder Lee counseled, "you must be in tune with the Spirit. You must receive personal revelation. When you are assigned to help reorganize a stake, you will need the benefit of the Spirit in order to know whom the Lord has chosen to become the new stake president. You must receive inspiration. My friend, I will give you one piece of advice: Go to bed early and get up early. If you do, your body and mind will become rested and then in the quiet of those early morning hours, you will receive more flashes of inspiration and insight than at any other time of the day."
From that day on, I put that counsel into practice, and I know it works. Whenever I have a serious problem, or some assignment of a creative nature with which I hope to receive the influence of the Spirit, I always receive more assistance in the early morning hours than at any other time of the day. Following that counsel has helped me a great deal through the years. (Joe J. Christensen, To Grow in Spirit [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], pp. 27-28.)
Parents can teach children the importance of arising early. In fact, most children will avoid staying out late at night if they know they have to get up early the next morning.
The world is a more beautiful place early in the morning. Life is so much more calm. Much more can be accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Still, getting up early is not easy. Parents have to set the example. Arriving places on time is closely related to early rising. Many missionaries struggle with this, and, consequently, their companions also suffer.
Teaching children the value of arising early can also help them have a more meaningful Sabbath day, as illustrated by a young mother's experience:
"When we were in graduate school in a neighboring state, I struggled with having my little family of five children and myself ready in time to go to Sunday School. My husband left before we did and drove the several miles to the church for priesthood meeting. I finally decided that I would have to make some changes—both to be ready on time and also to have a more calm Sunday morning. Our oldest child was seven at the time. I decided first of all to try the advice of the song that the Primary children sing: 'Saturday is the day we get ready for Sunday.' I found that I could do much more on Saturday. I made sure our Sunday clothes were all ready on Saturday. I even scrubbed the potatoes and wrapped them in foil and cooked other items for the Sunday dinner.
"On Sunday morning, I fed the children and then bathed and dressed them and me, putting on all but the top layer of clothing. Next, I put a robe on each of us. I was then able to continue doing the necessary duties of Sunday morning and to read scripture stories to the children. About five or ten minutes before I knew my husband would be home from priesthood meeting to pick us up, I slipped the robes off all of us and put the top layer on everyone. From that time on, we were always ready on time and arrived before the meeting started. President David O. McKay once said that when a meeting is due to start, the Lord's Spirit is there and that it is an affront to Him for one to come in late."
If in your home you arise and retire early and are punctual for meetings and appointments, your future missionaries will grow up with these habits in their own lives. They will also leave home with the good feeling that comes only from being in control and on time.
The physical aspects of life are intimately connected with all the other dimensions of life that lead to happiness. They should not be overlooked as you work to make your home a missionary training center.
(From the book: Making Your Home A Missionary Training Center, p. 33 - By Joe J. Christensen)