- My husband and I have been together for seven years, married for almost three.
- We both previously worked in "late-start industries" where we didn't have to wake up early.
- After having a child we switched our schedules, and now we jockey for sacred time in the mornings.
My husband and I both worked in New York City in what I like to call late-start industries: music and fashion. It was not unthinkable for me to roll into my fashion-editor job around 10 a.m., just as everyone else was getting there. For a good 15 years of my life, I set up a pattern of going to bed by midnight and waking up by 8 a.m., refreshed.
Fast-forward to 2020, and as the world changed and people's daily habits changed, our lives also drastically changed because we became parents. Now my husband and I find ourselves fighting over who gets to wake up at 5 a.m. The morning has become our sacred quiet time, and I truly can't believe it.
Parenting changed our priorities — and our schedules
We are on a very strict kid schedule. I would move mountains to make sure we never, ever deviate from it, because our child has been sleeping through the night since 10 weeks old. She gets out of her crib at 7 a.m., meaning whichever morning activities we want to do need to be completed by then. We both also now work early-start jobs.
For me, that means waking up at 5 a.m. to have a little me time before a 6 a.m. yoga class. I read the news, drink my coffee, eat breakfast, and get dressed. My husband alternates 5 a.m. wake-ups for either going to the gym or reading.
We usually start the week by talking about who wants to do what, and when. It's not an everyday situation, but talking through our schedule helps us manage expectations.
On weekends we often rotate who wakes up with the baby at 7 a.m. so we can give the other a break. It's impossible to sleep in a small house with a toddler and a puppy, but that extra hour or two of lounging around in bed makes us feel more whole.
Time to ourselves makes us better parents and people
While a 5 a.m. wake-up might sound brutal to some, it's often the most energized and quiet time of our day. At night we're both exhausted by the time our daughter's bedtime rolls around, and there's little time for ourselves after we've closed up the house. We can barely stay awake to watch a TV show or read, let alone work out.
Getting up at 5 a.m. allows us to start our day with what fills our cups, namely exercise. And we are just simply out of hours in the day to get it done at any other time.
It doesn't work for everyone
I am a reformed night owl; I used to do my best writing at night, and I used to routinely go to workout classes at 7:30 p.m.
But now the mornings offer me the quiet time I need to have a hot cup of coffee, read the news and actually focus on it, and get my one-two punch of exercise and meditation through yoga. Most importantly, I actually like it.
And while this might not work for everyone, especially if kids are waking up earlier to go to school, it works for us and our family.
I might sometimes need a midday coffee, but that's a small price to pay for retaining some of myself and my sanity.