Massage & relaxation guide: Tim Dowling and son try an energising wake-up massage

There must be a short period where your children rise at roughly the same time as you do, but I don't remember it. They spend their early years waking up in the small hours to eat cereal in the dark, then when they hit 12 they suddenly decide that getting up at all is for losers. My eldest son is now 13 and firmly in the latter camp.

For the most part I believe that this is an issue that should not involve me, a private thing between him and his alarm clock. And for the most part it is: when he has to get up for school, he does. The rest of the time, however, he sleeps until somebody feels the need to intervene. And that somebody is usually me.

The idea of overcoming his resistance to spending any part of the day outside his bed with an "energising wake-up massage" meets with a good deal of initial resistance from me, the putative masseur. First of all, if anyone deserves an energising wake-up massage, it's me. Secondly, the energising wake-up routine I usually use on him, which involves pulling all the bed clothes off him and then dragging him to the floor by his ankles, works just fine. It may be cruel, but after 10.30am I think a little cruelty is in order.

Having overcome my reluctance to do him this giant favour, I creep into his room one morning - it's only just still morning - with a print-out of the massage instructions in my hand. I start by placing my hands between his shoulder blades and hold them in that position. The instructions say he will probably say "go away" at this point, and he does exactly that. I press on regardless, rubbing my palms up and down his back. There is no immediate response; in fact, he appears to have gone back to sleep. At this point I am meant to whisper encouragingly or to offer inducements, such as a nice breakfast waiting for him downstairs.

"I've got a nice breakfast for you downstairs," I say.

"Really?" he says, opening one eye. I glance at the instructions, which say, parenthetically, that "it has to be genuine, not fake, bribery". I should have read them through first.

"Breakfast, in several forms, is available," I say. He does not reply.

As per the instructions, I speed up the rubbing, moving along the spine and across the shoulders, while looking at the clock and trying to resist the temptation to dig a knuckle into his ribs. He doesn't seem to mind it much, but, then again, it doesn't seem to be energising him much either. Eventually, after about three minutes, he promises that he will get up if I will leave him alone.

All in all, this is a much calmer method than pulling him out of bed and on to the floor. It achieves the same results in about the same amount of time, although it is slightly less satisfying from my point of view.

We tried this technique a few times over the course of a week, before agreeing by mutual consent that it was such a huge success that we never had to do it again.

You can also perform this massage with the stroppy teen sitting in a chair, but I don't see the point. Once you've got them sitting up in a chair with their eyes open, you can start haranguing them properly.

'I wasn't looking forward to it ..."

I'd already sneaked a look at the instructions, and I wasn't looking forward to the experience. And as soon as Dad said he'd made me a big breakfast, I knew he was lying.

The massage didn't exactly "invigorate" me, but it was a lot better than being pulled out of bed. To be honest, it's hard to appreciate anything when you've just been woken up. You don't really know what's going on and you just want to be left alone. It doesn't affect your mood much, since five minutes after it's over you've forgotten all about it anyway. But as a way to be woken up in the morning, it wasn't too bad. I would rate it somewhere between the alarm clock going off and not having to get up at all.

There again, it does seem a bit of a weird idea because, if anything, it actually relaxes you so much that you start to fall back asleep halfway through. But maybe my Dad was just doing it wrong. I wouldn't be surprised.
Barnaby Dowling

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.