Working Mom Sagas: Mornings or Evenings?

I’ve been working nights for years. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I wasn’t already working days and mornings, too. I’ve mentioned a few (dozen) times already, but I have the two kiddos to get up and out of the house every morning, while I get up and out of the house as well to head to the school where I teach at-risk teenagers. Then I come home with my kiddos, get them into bed and use the tiny sliver of energy I have left to crank out brilliant work, or at least what passes for brilliant after being awake for 14 hours.

As I write this I’ve been up for 15 hours and spent roughly 7 of those preparing kids for the big standardized test next week. If you think teaching or parenting is an easy job, I’d beg to differ, but that’s a post for a different day. Rather than a sobbing, whiny poor-pitiful-me story (too late!), I’m going to be proactive and see if a change is in order. I’m going to reverse my days.

Naps, No More!

Once upon a time when I was only a WAHM – not a WOHM and WAHM at the same time, I got the advantage of serious naptimes. I could do most of my work during naps, finish up at night and pretend to get plenty of sleep. Then the naps disappeared. Now the bedtime is moving a bit later as the kids get older. Soon we’ll be starting up sports that push into the evenings. I’m running out of time! Of course, I could write while they are up and playing Wii or whatever, but I like to think that their waking hours when we’re all home from school is the time I give them exclusively every day.

So that leaves me two choices: later nights or earlier mornings.

Scheduling Necessary Changes

I’ve been rocking the later nights, but I’ll be honest with you –it’s starting to really suck. I’m unproductive without massive amounts of efforts and caffeine to gear myself up for work every night. Even when I am working like a champ, I’m sacrificing sleep or time I need to do other things around the house, which plays mental havoc on the tired brain. Most of the time I’m just plodding along when I’d be flying if I had even an ounce of the considerable energy the rest of my life requires.

So I’m going to try things the other way for a while.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to get up at 5am. The boys won’t be getting up until 7am most likely. (For the record, I’m writing this Friday night – days ahead of the posting date. I amaze myself with my dedication to my sacred calendar). I’m going to write a single article, although it’s a doozy. It will probably take over an hour to piece it together and I have to leave time for teeth brushing and face washing and the sullen monitor staring that precludes a nice caffeine rush.

Hopefully I’ll knock out that work like nobody’s business and then I’ll have a new routine. On Sunday I’ll get up at 4 and make it a point to get to bed by 9 that night to get up at 4 the following morning. I get two uninterrupted hours in the morning (kids get up at 6:15ish on weekdays) to be brilliant when my mind is fresh and then I get to actually relax for five seconds at the end of the day.

Before you point out the obvious, I realize I’m only allowing myself seven hours of sleep every night, but that’s more than I’m getting now anyhow, so it’s not a huge concern at this point. Two hours might not sound like a lot of work time, either, but its’ roughly the amount of time I schedule for myself in the evenings since I write part-time, so that’s a not a big problem either. Or at least I don’t think it will be. We’ll find out.

This is a noble experiment, and by the time this post goes live, I’ll have some data to share. Of course, I probably will be back to nights out of sheer habit after five years, but I’m going to give it a try at least. What are working mothers if not flexible?

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9 thoughts on “Working Mom Sagas: Mornings or Evenings?”

  1. You are a better mother and writer than I am if you are going to voluntarily get up at o-dark-thirty to work!

    But seriously, you have to take whatever time you can get, right? Since I am only a WAHM and one of my two kids still takes a nap, I do try to get work done during naptime and finish things up at night, like you mentioned.

    But it’s tricky when my older son is home from school and wants to Do Things with his mom while his brother is napping. In theory, I want to spend time with him, but in practice, I’m all nervous about not getting my work done. And yet when I put him off and tell him that I’ll play Batman with him later, I swear I can hear “Cat’s in the Cradle” wafting through my mind. Wah.

    • I refused to get up, too. For years I was convinced (and rightly so) that the evenings were best. My little guys would get up the moment a footstep sounded in the house and then we were all up. But now they are sleeping more soundly and I can sneak around in the morning and get some work done – it’s actually great. It leaves my head free for the rest of the day, which is awesome.

  2. I remember Jenn mentioning something about her schedule changing in the same direction (I’m pretty sure, but wouldn’t trust my memory). I also vaguely remember being inspired to do the same at the time. It has been happening for me (slowly and kinda surely) and I’m inspired afresh with your ambition.

    My big problem? Hubby seems to think that the 5am alarm is a cue for him to get snuggly. When I can peel myself away and get caffeinated, that “sullen monitor staring” (total LOL) fades and the brain kicks in. Sometimes it’s only 45 minutes before the wee uns wake up, sometimes it’s two hours. But it’s almost always more productive than the midnight fight to keep my eyelids open.

    • Yep, I tend to work starting in the wee hours of the morning. I just don’t have kids in the mix yet. But I get what you’re saying about the hubby. When my SO is around on a work morning it’s definitely more difficult to get away from the bed and dive into work. Sometimes it’s a fear that I’ll wake him up and sometimes it’s more like what you mention. I just remind myself that the flexibility of it all is the real perk — that when I’m waking up with someone else, have kids later on, etc. my schedule may have to change a bit, but at least I have that luxury where non-freelancers often don’t. 🙂

      • Yup – It’s actually working! The first morning was pure torture, but I had a full schedule and I pushed through. I crashed that night at 8:30, but now I’m doing great. I feel the same at 4:15am that I did at 6:15 am when I wake up and I get to bed much earlier. I think it will make me healthier overall, too since I’m not eating a bunch of crap trying to procrastinate and get some artificial energy late at night.

        I also love that I have work done before the rest of my day begins. It’s not hanging over my head anymore and I can actually enjoy an hour or two after the kids are in bed. I also was starting to panic that the kids were going to get more active in the evenings with later bedtimes and sports and that would mess everything up. Now I can keep up this schedule FOREVER! LOL

  3. I am a full time WAHM. But I’ve been doing this working from home stuff even before I had my son so I’m kinda use to it. Once he turned 2 however he started to get in the way of my normal work stuff. A two hour nap isn’t enough to manage 30 plus blogs and write any number of articles. And staying up late in the night would have made me sick so its out of the question. Day care was the only solution that fit with me. Since he’s an only child, having someone to play with was an added bonus as well. Because of day care I can work from 6am ( when son and hubby leaves) and until 1pm.. however that will increase to 4pm next week.. My son only goes to daycare three days a week so it allows me many hours to work, clean and do what needs to be done. I consider it a win win. Anyways – I wish you luck with your new work schedule .. If you work at it hard it will work perfectly for you.. Just keep the coffee flowing and everything will be perfect I guess.

    • I did part-time childcare for the year I was home with my two. I think part-time is the best solution. It teaches the little ones a lot about how to follow instructions, be part of a group and learn to play with others. But then it also gives you time to be with him that you wouldn’t have if he was there all day every day. Since I teach all day every day, I have to make the writing fit in the morning – which it does, thankfully.

  4. I have a full time corporate job, two kids under the age of eight, and am writing a book and blog, so I know how you feel. For me, I stopped watching tv and I get up extra early when the kids are sleeping to get a few hours of work done.

    It’s a challenge but keep true to your goals and stay motivated. Good luck.


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