Everyone is well aware of the challenges to sleep that come with a newborn, there’s less said about how those challenges follow you as you return to work. To be honest, I feel there’s more an a smidge of Stanford duck syndrome about it all, where everyone tries to put on a brave face and internalises any problems because they think we’re all meant to be hustling and grinding and moonwalking our way through combining a career with parenting a tiny chaos tornado.
As childless adults we’re focused on evenings and the post-work world. Going for drinks, going for dinners, going to the movies, going to the gym, going to classes, going to gigs, going on public transport, going further than thirty minutes walk from your front door, etc. You can always find an hour at the end of the day for a meeting or to finish off some slides you need for the following morning.
The challenge of young children is they sleep in the middle of the hustle zone, so overtime in the office and long commutes murder your time spent with your kids while they’re awake.
The 2017 Modern Families Index found 48% of parents find working hours regularly got in the way of spending time with their children and 25% find it has a negative affect on those relationships.
Every challenge is an opportunity though and rather then try to reorganise our family and work time around an evening family get together, we’ve retooled the day so that the morning is now the big family eating and hangout time.
Mornings are the period of the day where we have the most energy and focus, they also set the tone for the day. Kids wake up early, so by waking before them you can get some work and washing up done, so you make sure when they’re awake you can maximise your time playing, reading and eating breakfast together. It’s a great substitute for a family dinner.
An unexpected benefit is it means I’ve switched studying and creating music to mornings too. The reality is nobody delivers great work when they start to study or compose at 11pm, having been awake and working for seventeen hours.
Lastly, I find I now get more sleep as I'm no longer fighting to stay awake half the night to complete a list of tasks, which apparently a lot of us should stop doing.