Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

The Morning Happiness Gene

I didn’t inherit the happy-in-the-morning gene. When I wake up I’m grumpy, I’m mean and I have the social grace of solitary, carnivorous wild animal. I’ll bite your head off if I’ve not yet had at least one pot of coffee. My sister on the other hand — you can go jump on her bed, plug her nose and she just rolls over and smiles at you. Really. I’ve tried it. She’ll just look at me and say in this sweet sleepy voice, “Good morning beautiful.”

I know … it’s disgusting isn’t it. For years I was jealous of her happy-in-the-morning attitude.

For me, early morning is the coveted “me time” — it’s too early for my “crack berry” to sing, I feel more creative than I do at any other time of day; I can go through email, work on a creative project and read through the news without interruption, and I can do it all with a cup of coffee in my hand and nobody competing for my attention. I NEED my solo morning time more than a junkie needs her dope.

When my son started sleeping through the night and our sleep cycles were once again even-keeled, I quickly realized that if I was grumpy in the morning, he was grumpy in the morning. It was a bad, bad combination. I love to get up at half past rooster time, but I don’t want my child to be out of bed that early. I mean really, how did anyone expect me to be a nice parent before I was awake? Young children apparently want things when they get out of bed … hugs, kisses, parental chatter; they want to plan their day and for goodness sake they even expect breakfast. And, they want all those things regardless of whether or not their parent is ready to fully appreciate a new day.

To help everyone get a brighter daily start, we adjusted our expectations and our schedules to better fit our personalities. The bottom line is that Aaron needs 10-11 hours of sleep a night. So if I want him to sleep in the morning, he needs to go to bed a little later at night. Putting him to bed early meant he was waking up when I was waking up … which was before I’d had that pot of coffee I mentioned. It was ugly.

Once I figured out how to manipulate his schedule, I realized I didn’t need the happy-in-the-morning gene after all. When my son wakes up, I’ve had an hour or two of solo time (and my coffee), and I when I hear the pitter patter of his little feet headed for my office, I smile and say, “Good morning handsome. I’m so happy to see you.”

What have you had to adjust to help make parenting a happier experience?

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28 comments to The Morning Happiness Gene

  • This is a great post! I wish I’d had access to all the parenting advice available on the web these days, when my children were small. I don’t think I’ve ever slept through the night since mine are so strung out (no not on drugs but in age)that by the time I had the last one sleeping through the night, I was having to stay up waiting for the oldest to come home in the wee hours of the morning. Then when the oldest left home and the youngest was sleeping through the night, I got grandchildren who spend the night a lot and they don’t sleep through the night. It’s a vicious cycle so now what was your question again? :)

    Midlife Slicess last blog post..Distance Has That Effect

  • kristy

    I can vouch for her not having the happy gene in the morning, It can be very entertaining to mess with her in the A.M. but you have to be carefull not to take it too far or the carnivorous beast will come out. She really has pinched my nose and it just makes me laugh. I recently had a little baby girl and I am happy to report that she inherited the happy gene in the morning. I wonder what makes this happen? She chats more than I do!! My husband is like my sister and didn’t get the gene so I think he is in for a world of fun with the two of us in the house ;)

  • Tricia

    Midlife Slices: I think what you describe is called perpetual exhaustion.

    Kristy: oh your poor husband…he may have to take up my coffee habit.

  • I’m a very early riser and almost never even use or need an alarm clock. I usually wake up revved up & ready to go – can move mountains in the morning! But, boy do I fizzle out in the evenings!

    But since becoming a Dad, my mornings are really packed! No more lazily lounging around with a cup of coffee and reading blogs & email for the first 30 minutes of my morning. No, now I’m on a tight schedule to get coffee brewing, cook cereal for Liam (so it has time to cool back off), turn on lights to start rousing the sleepyheads, and then dash into the shower. If I slack off much in there, the whole routine bogs down & I end up late for work.

    Rob O.s last blog post..September 2008 Blogtipping

  • our little beagle has to do a little dance and cuddle every morning, and it is so funny, a good way to start the day

    garys last blog post..And I say Rock ON…….

  • Bear is like you. He needs that hour or two of solo time before everyone else gets up. He gets down right surly when he doesn’t get it.

  • Jen

    I’m just like you (my sister is also just like yours!). I need that time to myself – it helps me center and start the day off right. However, I don’t like to wake up early!

    Luckily both my kids are usually late sleepers, so it’s not really an issue!

    Jens last blog post..When does motherhood begin?

  • Tricia

    Rob: My hat goes off to you. If I had to get myself and my child ready first thing in the morning, I’d be in so much trouble. I’d probably end up wearing my bra on the outside of my shirt. My office is in my home and although my son goes to preschool part time, he doesn’t have to be there until 8:30.

    Gary: My dogs do that happy dance too and they don’t care if I’m grumpy or not…can’t imagine life without our canine babies.

    WickedStepMom: Are your girls happy morning risers? The preteen and teen years are tough. I used to try to bribe my youngest stepdaughter out of bed with baked goods in the morning.

    Jen: Can you imagine what we’ll be like when we have to get them up to catch a bus…ughhh. I’ll probably be one of those moms in car pool line just so I don’t have to get him us so early.

  • donna

    I will say that Tricia hit it right on the head about being a grump in th AM. You should have been there when I was getting her up in the morning for school. Not a pretty thing. However I must confess that she does take after me. I too like to have my coffee in the morning undisturbed. My husband called me the other morning before I had all my coffee time and it set my mood for the day, not to mention the computer problems as well here at work. That is what he was calling me about. Now the man has lived with me for 37 years, you think that he would know better. Give me my time!!!!
    Good blog Tricia. I am sure that I can give other kid stuff from your past to blog about if you feel the need to do so. :-)

  • Boy can I relate to this post. My kids do sleep in relative late now and it is heaven. Before that though….ugh.

    My big adjustment was at the grocery store. I almost always have the kids with me so gone are the long drawn out visits where I shop to stock up. I keep my kids in a double stroller b/c I hate having my 2 1/2 year old wandering. That limits what I buy to what I can stuff in the stroller and carry in a basket. At first it was tough. I can tell you I am now less of an impulse buyer and plan a lot more carefully when it comes to what I truly need. That means I’m also planning menus in advance so I can spread out when to pick up what. We go to the store twice a week. Even though I’m not buying in bulk so much anymore, I do think less goes to waste and I am probably saving a lot of money not buying the extra stuff I would come across.

    Lisa Ps last blog post..I Need A Rolaid!

  • Tricia

    Mom: You’re not allowed to tell stories about me on my own blog. I know your memory is failing you, but really, how many times do we have to go over this?

    Lisa P: My little guy HATES to shop. We’re in the store for five minutes and he’s already asking if it’s time to pay yet.

  • Tricia: Come to think of it…. none of them are morning people. I can’t say I am little Miss Sunshine in the morning but I will say I am not a total grump either. I guess I am some where in the middle and they all hate the morning.

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Oh boy…

  • Amy

    I too can tell you that Tricia is not a morning person, I recall a morning in a hotel room holiday shopping with her mom, grandmother, and aunt … and not nice words because we wanted an early start!

    I LOVE mornings!!!!

    Amys last blog post..Vermont Maple Syrup

  • Tricia

    OK: now listen up. For those of you who know me “in real life” now y’all stop telling stories, you’re going to scare off my new friends.

  • I’ve had to alter my expectations with regard to how my house is kept. I’ve got two boys and it’s a never ending battle to keep things in some sort of order. Sometimes I’m better at it than other times:)


    thatcoolbroads last blog post..Are “status” decals on your car cool…or not?

  • Great post! I am NOT a morning person, either. Really not. It works best for me when I get up early (B.C. (before children)) and fire up my gas-powered Senseo for 10 cups of coffee in the space of three minutes. By the time the three-year-old gets up, awakened by the racket and blue haze in the house, I’m ready.

    Lately I’ve been staying up until 3:00 AM working, so mornings haven’t been going so well :( .

    goodfathers last blog post..I am Pocko

  • Tricia

    TCB: Yea! And looking quite lovely and cool as always.

    goodfather: gas powered you say? 10 cups in three minutes…it sounds like a little piece of heaven. I’ve just updated my holiday wish list.

  • Love this post! Well, you’ve got me thinking there cuz I am Miss Grumpy Dwarf too!!!! Hopefully that will change soon.


    Brandygirls last blog post..Sick.

  • I’m not a morning person so I feel you on the grumpy thing in the morning. I never try to wake my children up in the morning unless it’s a school day…

  • kristy

    I am such a morning person and I still forget that my husband isn’t and it is so hard for me when he isn’t all smiles in the morning. He doesn’t even want to talk to anyone until he has had his shower. I am still wondering what makes us this way or not. My daughter Hannah is such a chatter box and at 15 weeks has just found her voice and loves to screach and giggle so I put her in bed next to her dad and we wake him up that way because who couldn’t smile at that in the A.M. :)

  • Half-past rooster time. Heh.

    I like a few minutes to myself when I wake up. Um. Change the “like” to “need.”

    Cheri @ Blog This Mom!s last blog post..Ass Project: Cracks and All

  • I’m the same way- I am NOT a morning person! Mark is an early riser, so it works… I get up with Rye during the night if he gets up (which has been a lot lately, ugh) and have everything ready to go for in the morning, and Mark gets up with the kids. After being married 12 years I still can’t get over the fact that he sets the alarm clock for 6:30-7:00 ON THE WEEKENDS! But then again, he doesn’t understand how I can do laundry at 2 in the morning. It works for us.;)

    Sam (The Edge Of Insanity)s last blog post..Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

  • Some days I’m the grumpy dwarf. Some days I’m the smiling dwarf. So I guess that makes me the Cybil dwarf.

    MamaGeeks last blog post..Apple Pi (As In 3.14159265)

  • Tricia

    Kristy: Even I would have to smile at that in the a.m. Precious!

  • I’m awful in the morning. I like to be quiet and be left alone to my coffee, cereal and Headline News. Having a dog has helped me be more flexible, because he doesn’t give a crap if I’m in a bad mood. He still wants to go pee and eat when I get up.

    Dougs last blog post..The Low Art of Car Buying, Part Deux

  • Even though my kids arent necessarily ready to sleep right at 7:30, I walk out of their room at that time to give them down time in their beds, to think and rest and fall into sleep. My older one will read. BUT although they share a room, they keep each other up until 10pm if I put them to bed in their room together. My older one goes to sleep in my bed and I move her when I go to sleep at night. I also go slow in the morning so I make their lunches for school the night before.

    stepping over the junks last blog post..It’s Monday Again, and I’m Singing Randy Newman

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