The Conversion of A Night Owl

The night, la nuit, la noche. It is one of the best times to be alive. Ask any nocturnal creature and you will be told that the night is a special time. La luna, my son’s favorite spectacle, appears in the night, to quiet us all with her loving glow. I, being a night owl from birth, love to stay awake with the moon, and the beasts of the dark, and my solitude. But life has a way of making small changes in our lives without notice. I am no longer a creature of the night. I have been converted.

Indeed, all of the hours have their merits. 9:00 a.m. is a wonderfully productive time, while 9:00 p.m. is a stern, but understanding hour. The ten’o’clock hours are equally cheerful, while noon and midnight are mischievous. I like to be awake all of the time, and usually wake from a nap feeling as though I have missed something. You might call it a joie de vivre; I call it the luck of the twenties mixed in with the screams of young children. In any case, I don’t sleep very much and my affections for the later hours are waning.

Now I wake with the birds and the sun. It is an optimal time to water flowers and vegetables, and coffee has an especially enticing smell at 6:00 in the morning. All is quiet, bathed in soft blue light, patiently waiting for sleepers to rise. I don’t usually beat both kids out of bed, but it is still a peaceful time. I am not exactly sure how this transition began but I have a few ideas on what has happened.

Obviously, having kids doesn’t give me much lazing about time but in the beginning, I found myself staying up way too late and dreading getting up for the baby. This wasn’t fair to either of us, but it continued for a while. Kids will wake you up, however, so I haven’t slept until noon since before my first pregnancy (this doesn’t count mid-morning naps, which I have succumbed to from utter lack of energy). Having two children has been the biggest factor in my conversion from night owl to earliest bird.

It is an ongoing process, however, because a love for the night is a personality trait of mine. I have found a few things that help me to rise earlier, including making my bed, cleaning the kitchen before bed, and eating throughout the day rather than before sleep (a terrible habit of my husband’s. He often eats another helping right before bed and later complains of an uncomfortable “full” feeling.)

I am a reluctant cook, and no expert on nutrition, but I have strong opinions on what I eat and what I feed the people in my house. Breakfast requires coffee (more than two cups), cereal, nuts, and other grains should be snacked on throughout the day, fruit and sugars are delicious, dairy is dangerous but heart-warming, chicken is okay, and red meats or seafood are to be avoided.

I’m not a vegetarian or vegan (by any means!), but I carry with me many videos of animal abuse at the hands of the farmers that feed us. I no longer eat pork, and don’t choose beef on my own. I can’t change my husband’s tastes (or yours), so beef is often a main course when he is home. I also love a perfectly seared, slightly pink steak, but abuse is not appetizing, so red meat turns my stomach. I must add here that I do (rarely) purchase nitrate-free bacon from the co-op. I have talked to the farmer though, and am confident that she cares for the pigs properly and with dignity.

My opinion on seafood is this: it is disgusting. The ocean is littered, full of who-knows-what, and I am not interested in chewing on shrimp. The textures of the ocean appall me and I don’t think it’s healthy (shrimp has a ton of cholesterol). I would never eat anything that slithers on my plate or is cut from a helpless animal, no matter how worthless they may seem (shark-fin soup you disgust me!). But my point in talking about my views on food is this: it matters what you eat and I feel less weighted when I stick to things that come from the ground. Jumping up in the morning is easier when your stomach is not focused on the tacos, pizza, or hamburgers you ate at 11:30 p.m. I have no designs for a new diet plan, I only caution that you pay attention to yourself.

This brings me to alcohol. Skip it if you want to get up early. I drink occasionally, but it’s just not fun anymore. I have my own kids so I won’t parent you, but I’ve learned from experience that hangovers are not conducive to being my best in the morning.

These days, I’m trying to make my bed more often (there’s more of a finality to it when you climb into a made bed at the end of the day), and clean up my kitchen before heading off to sleep. The day has been reset when I close up my kitchen for the night and I feel ready for an early morning.

If you need to leave quickly the next day, make your coffee the night before (don’t turn the pot on obviously, just get it ready), organize your papers, and try to fix your hair. I have a big issue with my hair so it’s something I attend to the night before for days that require a decent appearance (I’m practically a hermit). If you have kids, don’t even think about going to bed until you have their things ready.

If you really want to change your schedule, change your outlook on time. Instead of damning the hour, appreciate what it brings. Each hour goes by quicker than the one before it, so find something in each to love. Whether you watch shadows with the owls or smile at the morning dew with robins, sleep when you can, enjoy the time we have, and wake up to live it.