The Yin and Yang of Morning vs. Night
It has been said a million times, but this pandemic has been disastrous for parents. In addition to no support, facing decisions about mental health and education that are unprecedented, and juggling work pressures — it is unrelenting.
In grappling with so many competing demands for attention, my husband and I have mere minutes where we can sit back together and just breathe. This happens at the end of the day, but not too late because I usually go to bed by 8:00 pm. The three-year-old is tucked in by 6:30 and we usually say goodnight to the two older kids by 7:00 (who then read or listen to audiobooks in their rooms).
In that brief window of time, we talk about the day. We acknowledge what we are thankful for, a ritual we have had for a long time.
Then I go to bed, waking naturally around 3:30 or 4:00 am. He stays awake for several more hours, working on his latest computer code.
Last night, we talked about how we are the “yin and yang” when it comes to productivity with work. It has been our “inside joke” that we are yin and yang, since we often have opposite — yet complementary — personalities.
We have had natural rhythms for a long time, but Covid has forced both of us to maximize our time. In college, I was the person who set my alarm and woke up before the sun rises to finish a paper. He would stay awake late to wrap up whatever he needed to get done.
He told me last night that anxiety and pressure fuel him. The work builds all day long and then he feels like he has to finish at night in order to catch up — or he won’t be able to fall asleep. Whatever code he is working on or problem he is trying to solve, he has to get it out of his system.
I am the opposite. When I feel anxious or pressure, I need to sleep. I’ll hit a block and be unable to work, particularly if I’m tired. I need to recharge and start fresh in the morning.
And so, robbed of much of the “traditional” workday due to the pandemic, we have had to rely on our natural rhythms even more. Before everyone wakes up and after everyone goes to bed are the times when we can focus.
However, this leaves us with very little time for each other. With no support, no break, and opposite schedules, we know that so many other things are forcing their way to the top of the priority lists. We are both exhausted by the time we hit the end of the day. And we continue to tell each other that we have to keep pushing through. That, as long as it has been, it won’t be forever.