A Night Owl's Guide to Raising an Early Bird

by Rebecca Lang September 12, 2016

I'm going stop you right here if you're looking for practical advice on how to manage mornings with early risers when you, yourself, are not a morning person. All of the coffee in the world or clever breakfast hacks prepped the night before won't change the fact that you'd rather be in bed.

All I have to offer you is the truth: that you will still lament the dawn of morning, but, having no other choice, you will begrudgingly get out of bed, bleary-eyed and yawning, to tend to your chipper cherubs. They'll have the audacity to ask for things like breakfast, milk, and a diaper change before the clock strikes double digits, and it will almost be too much to bear.

Our fellow parents who hop out of bed without a second thought will not understand the plight of us night owls, but that makes the struggle no less real. Whether you're home all of the time with your kids or only have the weekends to indulge in slower mornings, here's what you need to know to survive the early days with early birds.

You will love your kids a little more on the days they sleep in.

This delightful surprise, even if it's only a few extra minutes, gives you a head start on your slow and painful wake up process, and this is as precious a gift as your children can ever give you. Conversely, when they wake up earlier than expected, you will feel a betrayal akin to Caesar’s and will convince yourself that there is a conspiracy in the works.

You will request "sleeping in" as your gift for any special occasion.

This is a no brainer. Whether money is tight in your house or you're flush with cash, the best present — the only present — that holds any value is the opportunity to lay in bed undisturbed until you choose to get up on your own terms.

You will develop a keen sense of hearing to track your kids' movements in the house while you lie in bed.

I trained my kids to hang out in bed with me watching their morning shows with sippy cups of milk so that I could close my eyes in two minute spurts between their various interruptions. It's totally worth it, but they eventually get antsy and want to play (what's wrong with these creatures?). I steal another five minutes in bed after they leave because I can identify every squeak, clink, clank, scuffle and kerfuffle that they can possibly make around the house. As soon as it gets quiet or I hear an unidentifiable noise, I'm on high alert and out of bed.

You will celebrate the day your kids are capable of pouring their own bowl of cereal and turning on their television shows themselves.

This is the only developmental milestone that really matters because it means you won't have to get up to do these things for them. The best news is that you only have to wait for your first kid to get there. Then, the oldest helps the others.

You'll think that you can catch up on sleep when you're away from your kids, but you can't.

If you're lucky enough to get a weekend away from your early birds, you'll dream of sleeping in until 10 a.m., but you won't. You can’t. Your body is trained to wake up at an ungodly hour, even though it hasn't found a way to do it in an alert or cheerful manner. It's the worst of both worlds, but this is your penance for being capable of partying all night in college.

You will fantasize about their teenage years, when the tables turn and you can start waking them up with demands and instructions.

It's going to be so great and not at all annoying for a whole different set of reasons.

You're willing to acknowledge that you, the grump, are the problem, but it's still too early to really care about that.

One of my kids is actually a grouch like me, and he's no easier to deal with than the chipper one. Faced with a grumbling kid, I have to be the bigger person, because I am literally the bigger person, and that's a lot of energy to muster in the morning.

Now that you are armed with the truth of what life awaits you, I'll leave you to fight your personal battle against the morning. Let's part ways with the universal salute of the non-morning person: a squinty-eyed shuffle, a barely noticeable head nod, and an indistinguishable mumble that means, "Good luck."

Rebecca Lang


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