What can you do? My son has a set biorhythm, and no arbitrary daylight saving law is going to shift it. His body wakes up at 6 a.m., no matter what. It always has, and probably always will.
And before you suggest it, no: that whole “put him to bed 30 minutes later three days ahead of time” tactic doesn’t work for us. Whether he goes to bed at 6 p.m. or 10 p.m., my little guy still wakes up at the same time. From canvassing my fellow weary-eyed friends, I know he’s not the only one.
If there’s one thing parenthood has taught me, it’s that every kid is different. So for us, and families like ours, that advice can officially be shelved already.
The first few years of parenthood, “falling back” felt like a cruel joke. I commiserated, red-eyed, with comrades whose children also rose perkily with the dawn while the rest of the world luxuriated in an extra hour of sleep. When other parents would tell me their little angels slept until 8:30 a.m. the morning our clocks fell back, I seethed, invisible smoke steaming out of my ears.
But this year, something has changed. Not in his waking time, but in me and my attempt to find a way to live with it.
I’ve been a yoga teacher for a decade and practiced Buddhist meditation and vinyasa yoga for 20 years. Sure, after all those sweaty hours in the studio, my body is strong and flexible, and that’s nice. But in potentially frustrating day-to-day moments like this — exhausted and resentful as I roll over to see the clock flashing 4:45 a.m. — yoga and meditation have taught me several immeasurable lessons.
Coping with the end of daylight saving time is a very down-to-earth example of how yoga and meditation practice can totally enhance your life.
1. Acceptance. Early mornings are just how life is right now, and that’s okay. So much of our suffering in life comes from resisting what is. One of the best ways to change your daily reality (whether you love it or loathe it) is just to look around and say, “Okay, this is how things are right now. I have a kid who’s waking up early.” Accept it, and then go from there.
2. Flexibility. Bendy hamstrings don’t really help in this situation. But learning to be flexible with our regular routine really does. Rather than bemoaning our new 5 a.m. wake-up call, we’ve learned to make the best of it. Early mornings are now piano practice time. My son is energized and fresh and he rocks the headphones on our electric Yamaha so the neighbors don’t get an early morning jolt of “Old McDonald.” I sit next to the piano drinking coffee️, helping him count out quarter notes, and it’s kind of great.
3. Impermanence. One of the most powerful comforts (and sorrows) of parenthood is that it won’t always be this way. Kid sleep is such a good opportunity to remember that all things eventually change. Someday we might even miss these bright-eyed predawn hours fumbling for breakfast in the kitchen together. (I hear teenagers love to sleep in. Maybe we’ll find out someday.)
4. Let go. We’re not in control. Stop grasping for the illusion of power, especially over things like instinctive bodily functions. There’s no such thing. You just can’t force a kid to sleep until 7 a.m. when his body says it has to get up. He’s a human, not a robot. I’m a big believer in kids’ intuitive wisdom. Learning to trust his own body is one of the key values my husband and I cultivate with our son. So we all go to bed a little earlier (9 p.m. never felt so good!) and wake up rested, even at 5 a.m.
Rolling with the flow makes so much more sense than resentfully swimming upstream, resisting. I’m realizing this is one of the core truths of parenthood, and life in general.
Accept it, work around it, and realize this early wake up could, too, be a good thing.
Let’s raise a double espresso to yoga and meditation for making it possible.