Night Owl Parent In An Early Bird World

I’m not a morning person. Apparently I was as a child, torturing my parents with cheerfully persistent greetings before the break of dawn. By the time I was 4 my parents started putting snacks out I could easily access on my own in the morning with the hope that they would get another 30 minutes undisturbed.

Somewhere between 4 and 14 I turned into a night owl. Back then I was hiding under my covers with a flashlight reading my way through my weekly stack of library books. At sleepovers I was always the last one to sleep, assuming I slept at all while it was still dark out, I preferred to wait for the sun to begin to rise. As the sky grew dark, my mind lit up, curiosity and creativity overcame me spurring a physical energy that fueled middle of the night dance parties on my own in my room and my first (unpublished) novel and stacks and stacks of journals filled with poetry and short stories.

This night energy served me well in the arts. Performances often started at 7 or 8 and washing my stage makeup off at 11.30pm, famished and in need of replenishing my energy stores around midnight, I would settle in with a book to “slow my mind down” and end up reading until 2 in the morning. My mind doesn’t like to slow down at night, it gears up. Write all the things! Read all the things! Clean… no, don’t do that. Dance, yes dance all the things! Paint! Build! SOLVE!

The night was my friend, my time to shane.

It still is.

Not a morning person

Only now I have kids. And I live in a world that values 9-5 hours. Which makes no sense to me, why would anyone want to function in the least productive hours of the day? I like day time, it’s perfect for laying around outside in the summer looking up at the sky. It’s lovely in winter for lazy mornings in fuzzy socks with hot chocolate and a good book.

It really is no good for productivity though.

Sadly, it seems the majority of the world disagrees with me. They want me to bank and make phone calls in the window of sloth-dom, take my children to school and interact when words are challenging to string together, and go to the DMV and shop when my feet are only suited for fuzzy socks.

When you add children it all changes. You can’t just save everything for afternoon and pretend the morning doesn’t exist. It isn’t an option. Because often kids are, by some cruel twist of fate, by nature more morning people. Which is sad because there is no good way to explain to a 5 year old that you’re actually fun and pretty good at Legos as long as you can play with them after 9pm when they are ready for bed at 7.30pm. And I’m great at dress-up if the show starts at 8pm but they’re into fuzzy pajamas way before then. I want to tell my children I’m not always a zombie mom but I don’t think they’d believe me.

This morning as I went through the motions of getting my children dressed, propping my eyes open with toothpicks, answering emails with what I hope are responses that make sense, packing lunches, getting breakfast on the table, and getting my children to school, the entire time I was thinking “boy, this morning was hard, really rough.” But then I realized “wait, I think that’s every morning.”

Because it is every morning.

Being a night owl in a early bird world means every single morning is a struggle.

Having young children that struggle is amplified by 1,000. At least. Maybe more but math is hard until dark.

So, somehow written before 1pm this Wednesday afternoon, I present:

5 realities night owl parents of early bird children know too well

  1. While at night your mind won’t shut off and you have all kinds of amazing ideas to tackle in the day, come morning the notes you made at 2am will make no sense. It will take 5 hours for you to “wake up” after you wake up and even then it won’t be until 10pm that those notes become clear and you have the energy to get to work on them and stay up until you make yourself go to bed at 2am again, making new notes. And the cycle starts all over again.
  2. Breakfast food is great. Preferably around 10pm. At 6am your stomach rejects the idea of all food. But when you have kids and you want them to eat healthy, you find yourself making eggs even though the smell makes you want to barf.
  3. Coffee is how you function. Your stomach may reject the idea of putting anything in it but without caffeine functioning just doesn’t happen. So your stomach handles coffee or whatever mode of caffeine delivery you prefer. Or else nothing happens and your children are essentially left to their own devices.
  4. Your kids think seeing a smile from you in the morning is the best thing ever. They have no idea the effort behind it.
  5. Alarms are set at 15 minute increments because even if you get yourself out of bed right away you’re likely to find yourself staring out the window as you cling to your cup of coffee and have no idea how much time past.

Not a morning person

I’m not a morning person, I’m a night owl trying to live a morning person’s life.

So I need a few hours, quiet, and a cup of coffee to function in the morning.

But I have kids.


Not all of our children are early birds, we have a couple of night owls as well and as I watch them try to function in an early bird world they have my empathy. But not my coffee.


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