The time is 10:49am on a Saturday. My husband and I are still snuggled in bed wondering how much longer we get to enjoy the warm sheets until the kids wake us up. This is not an atypical Saturday. Whenever I share this with friends and acquaintances, the response is always, “Oh my goodness, you’re so lucky your kids sleep in that late!” But it’s not luck really; it’s our lifestyle. You see, my kids sleep in to after 10am every morning. They also stay up until after 10pm every night.
We’re a self-proclaimed night owl family.
I’ve been meaning to put pen to paper about our night owl lifestyle for quite some time; not to brag about sleeping in on Saturdays (thought that is a perk; I still have to wake up early for work during the week), but because, even though we often feel like lifestyle outcasts as a family with young children unable to make a playdate at 9am, the more I open up about our unusual schedule, the more I find other families out there making unusual schedules work for them. It’s another case of the proverbial, “Do what works for your family,” and I wanted to put this out there so that other families would know they’re not alone in making the unconventional work for them.
So what does our day look like as a night owl family? And how did we get to this point? What are the perks and what are the drawbacks? Let me walk you through the day in the life of a night owl family.
On paper, our kids’ official bedtime is 10pm and wake time is 10am. They are still in the age bracket (preschool and toddler) that is recommended to get 10-12 hours of sleep at night, so that’s what we’ve been working from since they were born. In reality, that bedtime could be 10pm on the dot or 10:30pm or even 11pm – 11:30pm. We’re lax schedule followers. Wake up time is pretty fluid too. I work from home a lot, so 10am is wake up time some days (for the kids; I’ll have been out of bed since 8am), but if a meeting happens to fall during that time or I am caught up in a project, it could be 10:30am or 11am. Being flexible with the schedule helps!
The day starts with getting ready and eating breakfast. Give or take a bit, I always assume that means we’ll “be ready for the day” by at least noon. By this time, a lot of people’s days are half over. Just as we are getting started a lot of kids are going down for a nap. One of the drawbacks of this lifestyle is that it puts scheduled morning activities in the bucket of inconvenient, if not impossible, for us. We can count on one hand the number of sunrises our kids have seen. Church at 11am is a stretch, and we’re always rolling in a few minutes late. 10am activities would have to be pretty spectacular to wake up early for. Everything else is a hard pass.
For the most part, our schedule looks like any other family with preschoolers and toddlers, just pushed back a few hours. We eat breakfast, play, eat lunch, play some more, have naptime, then play, dinner, play, and bedtime. Lunch is at 3pm, not noon. Nap is at 5pm – 7pm, not in early afternoon.
The best part of our schedule is after nap time. You see, Brad and I are working parents, and the main driver for this lifestyle is that we don’t get off until 6pm. Instead of wrapping up their day, our kids are just starting the second half of theirs when we get home. If I time it right, I can even get a few minutes of silence on the couch before I wake them up from their nap. The whole reason why we embraced this schedule was so that we could have 3-4 hours every night with the kids without feeling rushed after work to get through dinner and the bedtime routine. We love our evenings and nights with our girls!
This schedule works really well for our family not only because of my husband’s and my working schedules, but because we’re all-around night owls regardless. Peak productivity for our family is 8pm – 11pm. Brad and I don’t flinch at staying up until midnight. None of us like waking up early (regardless of when we go to bed), including Grandma, who watches the girls when I go into the office. Everything just flows better for us with this schedule. It’s a schedule we naturally fell into when the girls were born, and we’ve seen no need to modify it since.
Sure we’ve felt pressure to match what society says is a “typical” family schedule should look like, but we’ve learned to embrace the unconventional because it’s what works best for us.
Like I mentioned above, there are upsides and downsides to this lifestyle. For the positives, the extra time with the girls in the evening is priceless. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to work all day and spend only a rushed hour or two with the kids in the evening. The time with them in the evenings is definitely a motivator for me in the working world. On the flip side, them sleeping later in the mornings is super beneficial for my days working from home. I can knock a few hours of work out before they even wake up. Another perk of being a night owl is all the atypical experiences we get to have with the kids, like night hikes and after dark fair rides and staying up to watch the Braves win the World Series as I type this. We rock New Year’s Eve with the kids as well as Fourth of July fireworks. It’s not even a stretch for the girls to stay up for them.
The downside, as I mentioned, is that it is hard to find kids’ activities that mesh well with our schedule. It can also sometimes be hard to arrange play dates. And we’ve yet to wake up early enough to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Thankfully, I am seeing more and more places organizing activities with after-work hours, which works well for our family. We’ve also found a tribe of friends that don’t flinch at an 8pm playdate at the playground.
The biggest downside to our schedule is coming up this weekend; our least favorite day of the year, when daylight savings times ends. Daylight savings ending takes already shortening winter days and makes them shorter. For the next three months, by the time we get home from work, it’ll be pitch dark outside, which is a real bummer for us because we love time outside, and during the winter half of our day is in the dark.
A lot of people warn me that things are going to change once the girls start school, but we are planning that to be a bit unconventional as well by homeschooling with the help of co-ops and our night owl crew. I am so grateful to have found something that works so well for us and hopefully will continue to embrace the unconventional because it is such a blessing to our family.