Some of us are morning people, some night people. Whether it’s a learned behavior or baked into our genetics, the divide between the perky morning lark and the wired night owl is pretty much universal.
Benjamin Franklin might have said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” but that doesn’t mean you (and your homeschool family) can’t succeed if you’re night owls. In this blog post, David (a morning person) and Holly (a night person) offer a series of tips to optimize your day regardless of which category you fall into.
David’s tips for morning: If you’re a morning person
I’m a firm believer that you can turn yourself into a morning person if you want to. Early birds vs. night owls is not a matter of genetics only but also of daily habits. “It turns out morning people aren’t using willpower to rise and shine; they’re using habits,” writes Locke Hughes at Greatist.com. “Early risers don’t think about getting up—they just do it.”
Of course, that’s just my opinion. There is plenty of research to suggest I’m wrong. And you also need to realize that I’m making this argument as someone who was born at 8am in the morning, so being an early riser is in my DNA.
Regardless of whether you’re already a morning person or want to become one, here are some ideas to help out as a homeschool family.
1. Get some exercise, even if it’s just 5 minutes
There are many reasons why exercising first thing in the morning is beneficial. But as a busy homeschool parent, it’s just plain reality that morning exercise might be the only time of day when you actually have a chance to get in a workout. Morning exercise can become an important part of your self-care routine.
If you have younger children and you want to involve them in a healthy exercise habit, here are some great ideas.
2. Make sure there is plenty of sunlight in your learning space
There is a reason that people in the old days used to get up and go down with the sun. Exposure to sunlight is an important way to help you wake up and feel alert, in addition to offering a variety of other health benefits from fighting the blues to helping you sleep better at night.
3. Do something fun first
Having something fun first thing in the morning to look forward to is a huge boost. Think of a morning ritual like brewing coffee, quiet time of Bible reading or prayer and meditation, or getting outside for a breath of fresh air.
4. Go to bed when you’re tired, but get up at the same time each morning
“People get hung up on setting a bedtime, but that’s a mistake because it can cause stress. The bedtime will sort itself out because you’ll be tired. The most important piece is to not slack off on the wakeup time,” says sleep expert Dr. W. Christopher Winter.
Holly’s tops for morning: If you’re a night person
As a self-employed, work-at-home, homeschooling mom, I often find myself working into the wee hours. No matter what time I may go to bed, my son still wakes up between 8am to 9am. So, what’s a sleep-deprived night owl to do to have a good morning?
1. Lean hard into organization
I do my school planning on the weekend, gathering all my materials into one area, bookmarking each book that we will be reading, and filling out my teacher planner in detail. I don’t have to use my tired brain to figure these details out when I am struggling to rise after a late night.
It’s equally important to have a rudimentary idea of what you will be serving for breakfast to avoid having to try to figure this out on the fly. Planning and even cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner ahead of time is a huge help.
I often cook a big batch of pumpkin pancakes, waffles, or muffins on the weekend and freeze for the upcoming week. Ditto on making a loaf of bread into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freezing them to make lunch easy (and no they don’t get soggy when they thaw). It’s so much easier to heat already prepared pancakes than to make them from scratch on an early Monday morning.
2. Establish a good routine
A good routine helps to streamline your day and eliminate time wasted making decisions over and over.
I have certain days that I perform particular tasks (like Wednesday for watering the houseplants), and certain activities and chores that we do on a regular basis. Routines provide helpful structure to your day and make you more efficient.
For example, my son knows that after breakfast, he gets dressed, brushes his teeth, and empties the dishwasher. I rarely have to tell him what to do now, because it’s a regular part of our day. I also routinely set up things before going to bed to make my morning go more smoothly such as setting up the coffee maker, putting out the clothes we will be wearing, loading the washing machine, gathering supplies by the door if we have an outing that day, and so on.
3. Create a welcoming atmosphere
As part of our homeschool curriculum, we listen to classical music. I play the music in the morning while we are having breakfast and doing the morning chores. This serves two purposes: we get some schoolwork done almost effortlessly and the music helps get our morning off to a pleasant start. Classical music may not be your family’s thing, but playing some music will help you and your kids be more energized and ready to face the day.
4. Fake your way to success
I honestly do not like to be up early doing much of anything if I have gone to bed pretty late, but I can’t always choose what time a homeschool activity starts or if I have an early morning meeting, so I put a smile on my face and act like everything is peachy.
After a few minutes, I actually move past pretending that I’m happy to be doing what I am doing and actually enjoying it. Mind over matter really does work!