Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Sunrise facing west. Holyland Tower looks like it's on fire. 
This time last year I concluded that Miracle Mornings were not a realistic prospect for me. However, since then I've revisited the idea of an early start, albeit with a slightly different goal in mind. It's not without problems for a Night Owl like me. Let's face it, if you are a natural Lark, you're up anyway. I'm not a Lark but I truly believe in the old rhyme:

Early to be, Early to rise, 
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

My problems are to do with the fact for 10 months of the year I have homework to do outside my paid working hours, full days at school or college, housework, I have shopping and cooking to do, and mothering for a few hours every evening. Here are a list along with some possible solutions. I've not put any of the solutions into practice yet so whether they work or not will be a future post.

1. I have homework.
I teach classes during the day but outside the classrooms I need to prepare courses, grade papers, write reports, liaise with students and parents, do my freelance writing work, etc... it never seems to end. However, after a day at school or college and then returning to help DD with her homework or take her to gymnastics, make supper, clear away supper, and possibly do some housework or shopping, I'm finished for the night. I have no energy left for my own homework.

Solution: I need to get up early enough to do a significant amount of work in the morning, before school or college, when I'm fresh. The work has to be done at some time in the day so if it's not in the evening after work, the only other time is in the early morning before work. (Another solution would be to work one day less and use this day to work at home. But financial incentives made me sign up for five days in school/college and I'm committed to this until the summer at least.)

2. I am a Night Owl with little to no Lark in me.
I have difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good night's sleep. I also have difficulty making myself go to bed early when I'd much rather be watching something on Netflix or even reading into the night. A friend pointed out that when people have an early plane to catch, they have no difficulty in getting up before dawn to get to the airport. I don't entirely agree. We do early morning flights back to Israel from London and though we obviously do get up extremely early, we hate it. Also, there's a big difference between doing it once in a while for a specific reason, and habitually getting up at 4 am.

Solution: On the other hand, he has a point and there have been times in my life when I've jumped out of bed eager to start the new day. If I identify such times, they are all times when I've been excited and happy about the events promised for that day. Ipso facto, the problem is not about getting up in the morning, it's about loving your life. I'm working on that because although I'm in the comfortable position of definite contentment, it's obviously not good enough.

3. Adequate sleep is essential for good health.
I've read many medical articles which show the link between lack of sufficient sleep and illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, not to mention obesity and all its connected health risks. One Doctor described how he panics if he can't meet his daily need for eight hours a night in order to have the cancer fighting hormones that sleep produces. So however much you tell me that Sir Winston Churchill famously survived on four hours sleep a night, I saw him on The Crown and he did not enjoy a healthy old age. (The cigars and whisky may have contributed to this.) Shift work seems to be especially problematic and whilst I don't do shifts, working late some nights and getting up early some mornings, produces a sort of shift work sleep pattern.

Solution: This is an easy one. Identify how much sleep you need and work backwards. I do probably need eight hours but I'm willing to work on seven. Then make yourself go to bed (with reading-in-bed time considered) at the appointed time. One advantage of modern tv viewing is that we can switch off and pick up in the same place the next night. We're not beholden to schedules set by the tv channels. I have to get over the notion that going to bed early is unsophisticated.

4. How to use the morning time?
Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning is all about preparing for the day but not about actually getting anything done. With a list of inspiring and energizing rituals, (exercise, meditation, affirmations, prayer, journal writing, reading, and juicing) it leaves you needing to go to work with nothing crossed off the "essential to do" list. (Also, he has a wife, a cleaner, and no boss demanding regular homework.) So as beneficial as some people swear that it is, this is not my goal. I need to get things done. As, I said, I have homework, but I also have housework and cooking to do. And I would like to blog more, and pursue various at-home interests. Unless I get up half an hour before I go to bed, I can't do everything in the 1.5 hours, tops, that I can make available in the mornings. (Getting up before 5.30 am is too drastic as is going to bed before 10 to sleep at 10.30 after half an hour of reading. You have to work with your own body clock, not against it.) Btw, for those of you screaming, "what about the gym? What about exercise?" I take a French Women Don't Get Fat approach. I don't have a car and I live on the third floor without a lift. With a pilates dvd at home, I think I'm covered.

Solution: Forget the housework, do the work work. Getting my homework done will give as much of a boost and good attitude towards the day ahead as all that other stuff. Do some housework at the weekend as required. Read in bed for half an hour before going to sleep. Blogging and other 'me' activities just have to be done in the evening or not at all. (Luckily I'm teacher so I still get school holidays.) Continue to rotate pasta, omelets, and tuna on toast for supper. Make DD's packed lunch and clean the kitchen before going to bed.

So that's the plan. Starting on Sunday because February 1st and 2nd are the weekend and time-off for good behaviour. I'll let you know.


  1. It's tough when it's only you to take care of everything and while I am an early bird I do know that it's not for everyone.
    The one thing I would suggest is small changes, a bit at a time. What I try to do now is housework on one day - grocery shopping one day - laundry one day and that's it - what gets done gets done and the rest has to wait for next week.
    I am someone who really does believe in meal prep - and for you and DD that could be as little as having crudités ready in the fridge - having hummus & cheese and fruit & eggs in the fridge for quick meals - and on nights when DD has activities picking up even some of your supper might help.
    I might start getting up early two days a week to start - say Tuesday & Thursday and perhaps just 45 minutes earlier to start and work up to 1.5hrs. That way you have time to adjust.
    I'd also have the work set out on my desk so that I'm not wasting time looking for things first thing in the morning.
    Don't beat up on yourself too much - you have a lot on your plate. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Margie, we do stop for pizza one evening on the way home from gymnastics. It also gets easier in the summer I think.

  2. I need to start getting 8 hours a night, I always feel so much better when I do...

    1. I should also aim for 8 but it feels so silly going to be at 9 pm.

  3. I so agree with you about fitting everything in. I’m now retired (yippee 😁) but still find it hard. I honestly could not/would not contemplate getting up 45 minutes earlier but might manage 15 minutes to start with. Don’t forget that you are doing so well to keep all those balls in the air and the most important thing is to have a wonderful and happy daughter and a paying job (imho). Anyway, good luck x

    1. Thanks Lindsay. You are right of course. I would so love the time to have a clean house and a regular blog during term time, but I keep reminding myself that people who aren't teachers don't even get the school holidays. That's something I can't contemplate. Otoh, if I worked in another profession I might afford a cleaner....

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