So… it’s 10:24 p.m. and I’m sitting down to write this blog post. In fact, I’m sitting down to do a bunch of tasks, of which this post is an early entry on the list.
I have always been a night person. In high school, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be up until 2 or 3 a.m., watching movies with friends in my living room, then rolling out half-functional at 7:30 a.m. in my neighbor’s truck, headed for school and downing enough iced tea to get me coherent along the way.
During my worst semesters of college, I worked a full-time job from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. or later. I’d come home, wake up Ashar, who was an infant, and hang out with him for a few hours before dozing off around 3 a.m., and heading back to school around 8:30 a.m. I was tired, but I got to see my kid!
I met Ashar’s dad, Chris, working on the night desk at our local newspaper. We were often the last pair standing – heading out the door around 2 or 3 a.m.
Ashar has always needed a lot of sleep. When he needed to be up for school at 7:30 a.m., he’d go to bed around 8 p.m. – and when middle school started and he needed to be up at 6:30 a.m., he was crashing at 8:30 p.m., barely having time to do more than cram in homework and wolf down dinner after getting home. And let’s not mention how Chris and I looked, walking him to the bus after (still) getting done work overnight.
So among all the other reasons that homeschooling sounded like the right fit for us, getting out of that cycle was a great bonus!
It’s definitely been a huge relief for us to be able to adapt much more to our “night owl” schedule. At the same time, we’ve come face-to-face with a lot of misconceptions. Most are the same misconceptions I faced when I worked night shifts. And most come from people who know us, and know our schedule.
I can tell you that I’ve never been upset when someone we don’t know calls us at 9 a.m. Yep, it wakes me up, but if you don’t know otherwise, I accept that. Those are “business hours,” and I’m fine with that.
I can also tell you that when people who KNOW us get upset when I don’t answer my phone at 8:30 a.m., that’s frustrating. When someone asks us what time is convenient to get together, and we say “any time between 1 p.m. and midnight,” and they laugh and suggest an 11 a.m. lunch, that kind of hurts.
Sometimes, it’s easy to want to be snappish. To want the world to operate on our schedule. That’d be awesome. (Museums open at midnight? YEAH!) But that’s not actually my goal.
Really, what I’d love is simply to have “night-owldom,” and especially homeschooling as a night owl, recognized as a legitimate and viable personality trait, the same as a preference for lima beans or hot weather – maybe not common, but totally OK.
- We’re not lazy when we’re in bed at 10 a.m., just like you’re not lazy when you go to bed at 9 p.m.
- We’re not antisocial when we opt out of 9 a.m. group trips, just like you’re not antisocial if you don’t join us for an 11:30 p.m. movie.
- We don’t find midnight science experiments at all unusual, just like you don’t find 8 a.m. art projects at the breakfast table uncommon.
- We’re not hurting our son’s chances at getting a “real job” someday. (This was probably the most hurtful comment I’ve received.) If Ashar wants to, he can and will get up. If he prefers, which he probably will, he’ll get a job that has him starting at 5 or 10 p.m. Hey, it worked for me and for his dad! By the same token, we know that not everyone can work second or third shift, so if your kids are getting up at 7 a.m., that’s fine too – just please, trust them to know their bodies and know the times they’re most productive.
Most of all, please know that our night-owl family isn’t judging your early-bird one. Maybe we’re even a little jealous, because you get to go to museums fully conscious! (If we do that, we’re only there 2 hours before they close!)
In return, though, let it be OK that we love nighttime. There’s plenty of daylight – or starlight – for all of us.
And if you’re a fellow night-owl homeschooler, feel free to share our nocturnal friend above. I’d love to start a tribe of “night-schoolers!”
Many thanks to Flickr user Michelle Wright for the base night-owl image!