On Being a Morning Person After All

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Yesterday I cleaned. One of those big cleans when my little dusting cloth rubs and polishes everything, ornaments, all the surfaces, baseboards, even alarm clocks. Then at six this morning when I was sound asleep, my alarm went off. Very quietly. I must have dusted it back into action yesterday, and at the same time, lowered the volume. I lay there for a bit, listening intently. “Who in heck was talking at this time of the morning?” I wondered grumpily. Then I realized, got up, turned the alarm off, used the bathroom, and scuttled back to bed. Oh, the joy of not having to get up! Because as I’ve probably said many times on this blog, I am NOT a morning person.

When I first retired, I awoke for months on the stroke of six-twenty, the time I’d normally get up when I was still teaching. Well, except for those mornings every two weeks when I had an early admin meeting and arose at six on the dot.

When I retired, the six o-clock habit was hard to break. I didn’t get up at six. I’d wake up, use the facilities, then, just like today, I’d scuttle back to bed. As I burrowed back under the duvet, I’d moan with pleasure to Hubby, who was almost always up and about, saying that six o’clock was now the best time of day. I simply can’t explain the luxurious feeling of being able to go back to bed. Going back to bed at a time one would normally be getting up is one of the joys of retirement for someone who is not a morning person.

Early morning on the Rideau River.
Early morning on the river a couple of years ago.

Later this morning Hubby asked what I was writing about today. “Mornings,” I replied. “You might have chosen something you actually know about, ” he chortled. “Hardy, har, har,” I shot back. But his comment made me think of an activity I used to do with my creative writing classes. Before we wrote in our journals at the beginning of class, I’d write a list of triggers on the board. Students could choose one as a topic, or not. The idea was simply to write steadily for ten minutes about anything. Sometimes I’d write the beginning of a sentence. Like “I know about…” or “I remember…” And even “I don’t remember…” or “I don’t know about….” It was always amazing to the students how much they could write about things they purported to know nothing about. Like me writing about mornings.

As a kid growing up in a rural area in a cold climate, I remember clearly the mornings of big snow storms. We lay in bed, listening to the radio downstairs in the kitchen where Mum and my step-father were lighting the old woodstove and having their first cup of tea. Holding our breath and hoping, we strained to hear the announcer as he read the list of school districts in which school was cancelled. Sometimes even if our district was open, our buses couldn’t run. Then we felt privileged to be “bus children,” as they used to call us in elementary school. And trust me, feeling that we were privileged to ride the bus was a rare thing.

If our district was announced, Mum yelled the news up to us. And we tried to go back to sleep. Usually we didn’t. It was much more fun to be able to loll around over breakfast in our pyjamas, knowing that we didn’t have to go out in the cold. But doing so later, of course, since a new snowfall was tempting, and being able to rush back into the warmth of our big farm kitchen whenever we wanted seemed all the more wonderful.

So maybe, after all, I am a morning person. Under certain circumstances.

The pre-dawn highway between Fredericton and Woodstock, New Brunswick.
The pre-dawn highway home.

Sometimes those circumstances involve a bribe. Somehow early mornings are not unpleasant for me if they are associated with food and strong tea or good coffee.

When Hubby and I rise before dawn to head out on the highway, whether driving to New Brunswick or back, I must be bribed with good tea or coffee and breakfast. I used to love the winter mornings driving back home after Christmas. A thermos of strong tea and a tin of Mum’s famous homemade doughnuts would hold us until we stopped for breakfast in Edmundston three hours later. There’s something cosy about driving the almost empty highway, sipping tea, and eating Mum’s sugar doughnuts, watching the lights come on in the houses we passed. Hubby and I have had some of our best conversations sitting in the car. Or the canoe. Same principle.

When I was still working, the six o’clock mornings when I had a seven-thirty admin meeting were not loathed at all. On the contrary, I loved them. I loved rushing off in the dark to school, dumping my coat and boots in the prep room, grabbing my diary and my coffee cup, and clacking down the empty halls of the school to our meeting room in the library. I loved the camaraderie of those early meetings with colleagues I liked and respected. And the breakfast laid on by our principal. The cafeteria manager always came in early to make us a big pot of coffee and his famous “Sunshine Bagels” (fried egg and bacon on a toasted bagel.) So yummy. I never minded getting up at six for those meetings.

So you see? I can be a morning person after all. Given the right circumstances.

Winter dawn on the Rideau, rarely seen by me because I am not a morning person.
On frosty mornings, I scuttle back to bed. Usually.

Hubby and I joke about the time when he learned that I could be a morning person, in certain circumstances. We were on our first big trip. Three months in the Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia. A trip Hubby had been planning for months, and for which I had taken a semester off without pay. I think we were almost two months into the trip. I was exhausted. Actually, I started the trip exhausted. We left less than a week after the conclusion of a stressful semester at work for me.

At first we both balked at the desired schedule of the other person. I may have mentioned before that Hubby is a “get up early and get fifteen things done before breakfast” kind of guy. I’m the opposite. Unless I have to do so, I’d much rather NOT get up early. We were well into our second week of travel before we found a compromise that worked for both of us.

On days when we were travelling, we packed and left early. But we stopped mid-morning for coffee and a snack. And we usually stopped for the day, no later than 4:00 in the afternoon. That way Hubby had time for a nap, and I had an hour or so of tea and book time. If we were staying more than the one night in a place, Hubby would rise early in the morning to explore the new town or city, returning an hour or so later with coffees for both of us. When I heard the door shut behind him as he left, I knew I had time to take a leisurely shower, and get ready at a pace I was comfortable with. Thus we became accustomed to the rhythm of our days.

Until Melbourne. I was so tired when we reached Melbourne. We’d been on the go for almost two months. We were still a week away from our planned down time. We’d rented a timeshare condo in central Victoria for seven days and planned to do little except rest up in that time, before we headed west into the outback, and then back east to the Great Barrier Reef, and then down the east coast of Queensland and on to Sydney.

Now, I have to preface the rest of this story by saying that until we reached Melbourne, I had not spent a single moment shopping on the entire trip. But we’d planned to split up that morning. I would shop. And Hubby would do whatever. At six-thirty my eyes popped open. I was wide awake. I turned my head and saw that Hubby was awake too. Not unusual for him. I remember saying in an excited voice, “Let’s geeeet shopping!” I also remember Hubby saying, “Ok-ay, Suz. You’ve blown your cover now!”

Like I said I can be a morning person, given the right circumstances.

But I will say that this morning was NOT one of those mornings when I had even a slight chance of displaying my rarely-observed morning-person qualities. Not when all was quiet in the house, and it was snowing gently outside. And the ice on the river was cracking in the cold. And I had no place I had to be, or wanted to be. No siree. I skittered back to bed and burrowed deeply under my duvet with a contented sigh. Happy to take advantage of one of the great joys of retirement for someone who is, after all, only rarely a morning person.

So what about you, my friends? Are you a morning person? Or a sometimes morning person, like me.

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58 thoughts on “On Being a Morning Person After All”

  1. NOT a morning person! Never ever been a morning person! No aspirations to become one! Getting up before 8:00AM is sheer torture. Though, one thing I’ve learned is: at 69, I cannot read any book, no matter which book, at bedtime as the light (no matter the wattage) awakens me and my brain doesn’t want to put the book down. I don’t doze off as I often did when younger. Mornings begin with the newspaper and a latte`… and preferably no conversation until that ritual is complete. I never go back to bed once I’m up in the morn.

    Gosh, I wonder what percentage of marriages/partnerships include a Morning Person AND a Night Owl?

  2. I think I’m a morning person . I’m certainly not much use after 10pm & I have more energy in the morning . Not too early though , especially in the winter darkness . I remember in my working life , what a lovely feeling it was to wake up & realise it was Saturday or Sunday – bliss . On holiday I’d have been up & off with Stu 😁

  3. At our house, we are a morning person and a night owl. For 33 years I was up at 5 AM and would grumble if circumstances required me to be up later than 9 or 10. For the first year or so I thought that 6:30 was sleeping in and now 7:30 seems to be the time I wake up, but then again I am able to stay up later as well.
    I do like the alone time in the morning to get my tea and catch up on the blogs and email in peace. There have been times during these last 2 years that I have taken that tea and tucked back into bed to read with the knowledge that there is nothing I really have to be doing. I think I would have been a tad sulky on some of those mornings getting repacked to head out again for a new destination for 3 months. You are a strong woman. This is part of the reason I do love a cruise, no packing up and a room to go back to to have a bit of a rest, and not cooking. But, I digress, I guess I have gone from a morning person to a more relaxed version.

    1. My wake-up time fluctuates. Eventually after I retired, I settled on somewhere around 8:00 or 8:30. That way I don’t feel as if I’m missing too much of the day. P.S. I was sulky at times on that trip. I hate to be pushed or rushed!

  4. My business coach swears by a 5am wake-up time in order to get things done. I would swear AT a 5am wake-up time. To me that would be torturous.
    I’m not a morning person, which served me well as a performer, since I was usually just getting off stage around 10:30, having to get out of costume and makeup, and then drive home, sometimes up to an hour. Sometimes I’d have to get up early for a day job the next day, sometimes not.
    But as I’m getting older (and doing less performing, especially with the pandemic over the last two years), I’m finding myself wanting to get to bed by 10:30 or 11:00 and waking up around 6:30 or 7:00. Mind you, I don’t actually DO anything of substance that early – sometimes I go back to sleep, sometimes I go down and get coffee and then read my email. I often stay in my jammies and take care of studio admin things/write blogposts from my “office” (bed) till 11 or so.
    But I’m trying to break that habit, at least the one of going back to sleep, in 2022. This morning I woke up at 6:30 but I’d had a bout of sleeplessness earlier, so I did fall back to sleep and got up at 8:00am. I’m running the robot vacuum downstairs, much to the fascination of one of my cats (Charlie – Spike couldn’t care less) and I’ve had my first cup of coffee. And now it’s upstairs to do my 30 day yoga challenge (day 7 and I haven’t quit yet) and then catch up on some admin, and then go teach – online mostly, but I do have one new person coming in person later because she has an audition on Saturday.
    I still don’t understand the concept of being in bed by 9pm, and I probably never will. I also don’t know if I’ll ever actually retire – I can still teach singing for as long as my ears hold out (knock on wood, the voice still is).

  5. We live in a small cottage in rural North Central Washington State and sleep in the open loft bedroom. My husband of 51 years has always been the morning person. He is up by 4:30am or 6:00am if he slept in! He makes a pot of coffee and goes down to the basement where his computer and the TV is…..news and stock market. He keeps the volume down so I can sleep. When he comes up for his second cup he brings me the rest of the pot and a cup and I can begin my slow start to morning… always at 6:00am….this wonderful routine has been going on for many years. I read my emails…. always look forward to “High Heels in the Wilderness”…. on my Kindle in my cozy bed and finally get up and ready for the day by 9am. My friends all know about this habit of mine and text before calling to see if I’m ready to talk yet! Husband and I enjoy this alone time at the start if the day.

  6. I can certainly relate to morning incentives of food and/or shopping! As you know, I’m counting down the months to August of 2025 when I retire and throw off the shackles of alarm-clock tyranny! You and Stu are my role models. My beloved LOVES sleeping in too (as he drives a school bus at the moment). I loved your memories of listening to the radio for “snow days”. Our county is alphabetically the LAST in the state, so we’d have to wait with baited breath to the very END of the list to see if we had a reprieve! Then and now, I love going back to bed with glee, whether I go back to sleep or not.

  7. After years of getting up early to start work at 4:30 am, I finally have the chance now to enjoy the beauty of the morning. Every day I feel the joy of the colours in the sky as the sun comes up. All the little birds come to our window feeder. My husband has s fire going in the fireplace. The coffee is ready and waiting and the the morning is all mine. I love this time of day now because it’s all mine.

  8. “…under certain circumstances…”- beautiful! Such a lovely post!
    I am a morning person, I like mornings,especially at the sea,everything is more lovely and peaceful.
    It was much easier for me to study early in the morning,than later than 8 PM
    Now I wake up at 7 AM with alarm(because I want to), sometimes without,make espresso and drink it in the bed for an hour (because we’ve mastered the art of drinking small amounts of coffee for quite a long time:)),slowly beginning my day…if I have to be somewhere before 9 AM,I’ll wake up earlier and have my espresso
    When I was still working (first from 7 AM-how inhuman,I’m not that kind of morning person,don’t like to have to rush into my day-,later from 8 AM) I had my first coffee later in the morning (I don’t need coffee ,it is a pleasure) if I could find time
    Dottoressa

    1. I always have a cup or tea first thing. I remember when I was working, I’d get up first, put the kettle on, have my shower, make the tea, and when I was doing makeup and hair in the bathroom, after the tea had steeped, Stu would bring me my first cup. But I do admit that I have a hard time sipping my tea or coffee slowly. After my admin meetings back in the day, I’d be all jangly with caffeine. Sometimes the kids would ask me why I was talking so fast. Ha.

  9. I am not a morning person since I was a very young child.
    I remember enjoying staying in my warm bed, sleeping or daydremaing, till noon sometimes.
    Now I have 4 very powerful alarm clocks: 4 cats. Every day they are starting to move, play, ask for food from 6am, which is very early for me. Sometimes I cave, get up, give food and go back to bed, with the radio on, not too loud, if I have to get up later to start working (either at the office or from home).
    But other days I try to learn them to wait and they are starting to be later riser as well.
    There is nothing more enticing to me than a warm and confy bed when it’s cold in the room.
    Although I should add than, when I was ill, I used to get up at 6:30 am, feed the cats and go out walk with one: I liked the calm and quiet in the streets. But always I went back to bed after coming back home.
    I f I really have to, I can be a very early riser: as a student I had to get up at 5pm to go to attend some courses at university (micro economy, hated it) ; or when I am travelling..
    But really I need my sleep, I need my time. At the opposite, I can still stay up rather late although not as late as when younger. My brain works better on the afternoon and early evening. Well in general. Things are changing with the years adding on…
    But I agree, things are so beautiful on the early morning with beautiful colours.

  10. Retirement is wonderful. For years it was up at 5 a.m. on the road running at 5:15 a.m., in the classroom at 7:00 a.m. I still love to run, but I no longer have to do it in the dark! (and I can take a nap after!)

  11. I attended all eight grades of elementary in a small, one room school house. The second story of our modest home had only the heat that would gravitate upwards from an oil burning furnace. We would hear the radio every school morning and very seldom was school called off. There’s the memory of a local farmer bringing the teacher to school on the back of his tractor. The snow was flying about her skirt as she hung on to the back of the tractor seat! Dang, there was no way we could argue with that.
    My father passed along his love of the early morning peace and solitude to me. It has always been that wee bit of “me time” and time to plan my day.

    1. My friend who lived on a farm in the Canadian prairies remember sometimes in winter going to school in a bombardier, which is a big tractor with treads like a snow machine. Love that story of the teacher on the back of the farmer’s tractor. If she could make it to school you had to too, I gather.

  12. I think, for me, it depends on the time of year. In the winter I like to stay in bed, even if I’m not sleeping, until 8 (sometimes even 9 😋) Not doing anything except maybe planning what I am going to wear and what I want to accomplish that day. In the summer, as soon as the sun is up, I’m up. I like to throw on the my running shoes and hit the trails. I love the early morning fresh air and saying Good Morning to all the
    other early morning walkers. Hubby is a kind of go to bed late, get up late kind of guy so we normally do our own thing in the morning.

  13. I had afternoon kindergarten as a child, and when first grade rolled around, my mom came to wake me up on the first day of school. I pulled my covers over my head and announced that I wanted afternoon first grade as well! Which I suppose answers the question of whether I’m a morning person – most definitely not!

    But there have been days, mostly on vacation, where an early morning walk through the streets of Paris, or on the grounds of a retreat center in rural Tennessee, or greeting the sun rising over the Atlantic in Maine, or that New Years Day when I did the same on an island off the coast of Japan overlooking the Pacific – I suppose you are right. It just takes the proper circumstances.

  14. I’m more productive in the morning, it’s when I have the most energy but I don’t like getting up early. My morning routine is to wake up, catch some morning tv news, drink coffee in bed that my husband brings me and read my blogs. I could do this till 10 or 11 if I don’t have any plans. But what I’ve noticed most is how much I look forward to that first cup of coffee. I start thinking about it at 6 or 7 in the evening and it makes me want to go to bed so that morning will come quicker.

  15. I think I am like your hubby and need to get cracking in the morning. If i dont start chores in the morning they rarely get done. having said that though i do love occasionally on a cold miserable morning to snuggle back down in bed with a coffee and a book. Problem here in Australia is that we dont get all that many of those days!

  16. I am not social (my definition) or as my husband says not nice in the morning. While working, I used to have to get up 3 hours before my start time to ease into myself and my day. I need coffee, time to read my devotional and a few pages of whatever I am reading for fun before I try talking to another person. No TV or jarring news casters. Quiet time to get centered is essential. It’s the same after retirement for me. I was always on full tilt at work…wasting time and energy on things that really in hind sight didn’t matter all that much. I am not a late night person either. I’d say the best time for me is afternoon and very early evening.
    Gosh you had a three month trip! That does sound equally exciting and exhausting. I give you both credit for having endured and found a compromise to your approach to traveling together. Wonderful post as always. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I like to ease into my day as well. Being rushed makes me cranky. We’ve done two of those three-month trips, and several five or six week ones. The routine we hit upon on that first trip seems to work for us.

  17. I like to wake up before my husband, or if we have a household of guests, to have some quiet time with my coffee and iPad
    (book in previous years). I’m not off and running like a true early bird who hits the gym, or off for a run at 6am, but I’m enjoying quiet time as the sun rises. I appreciate the early morning time to set my clock for the day.

  18. I am with you on that one! For years I, like you, had to be at school for meetings etc before classes started. Also for over two terms each year I had to be down at the local astroturf for hockey (field) practice at 6.30am as I coached and managed various teams and also took them away on tournaments and international trips.
    One of my greatest pleasures in retirement is to wake up under my own steam and then stay in bed and read my mail, the news or my book until I feel like getting up. Hubby usually brings be a cup of tea and some mornings he will be extra kind and bring breakfast as he is a morning person.
    If there is a reason to be up early like shopping, travel, grandchildren (all horribly early risers) then I can foot it with the best although I confess to being much more of a night owl. In my opinion sunsets were created for a reason!

  19. It’s strange that during the cold winter months in Ottawa I am a total creature of the night! Will stay up and read or watch movies until the wee hours ( binged on ALL of the second season of Emily in Paris the other night, went to bed at 4am! No regrets)
    When I am at our summer place in PEI up with the crack of dawn! I shocked my son this past August having got up at 6am , made coffee and after moving the living room furniture into a new configuration and not liking it, moved it back! Maybe it’s the sea air? I am also retired and it took a few months to shake the thought of having to get up early. I retired after a year of Covid and stepped into that big lock down of January 2021, who really wanted to get out of bed…and here we are again in 2022! Tonight we are going down to -25Celsius mmm je fais la grasse matinée!!

    1. My sister and I did that when I was in New Brunswick. Mum would go to bad and we binged on Emily in Paris. So much fun to watch together, even with the terrible French stereotypes, and all the women in their high, high heels. I didn’t see single person in Paris in high heels, except for some overdressed tourists on the Champs-Élysées. Not to mention Emily’s wardrobe!

  20. Definitely a morning person here. In summer I wake early – 5am on a bad day or 6am when I’m sleeping better, and I can hardly ever get back to sleep. I’ll read in bed or if it’s been a warm night, I’ll put on some walking clothes, have a cup of tea and head out for a morning walk. Or decide I’d rather stay home with my tea and a book, or the paper. Summer mornings are my favourites – the coolest part of the day, when the world seems new, or at least reset, and full of possibilities. I tend to wake up a little later in winter and like to lay about reading in bed till the heating warms the house. Most Sydney houses aren’t built for cold weather. Whatever the season, I love having the first hour or two of the day to please myself – pure bliss.

  21. Morning! Annoyingly so! Like Wendy, I am pretty useless after 10pm and can be found in bed already, usually snuggling down. Married to an owl, I love the privacy of being up early and watching the day begin; it’s like being part of a big secret. My father was morning too, mum not so much. My brother is like me and we have decided it is to do with a. natural tendency and b. years of getting up early for work/children. Holidays find me even more anxious to be up and about – one year, we went on holiday to Sicily with friends and I thought I was the first up, ready to slip into the pool and have my cup of coffee on the side. But no – my two pals were already there and the three of us sat delightedly in the sunshine, drinking our coffee and chatting while the rest of them snored away inside. Bliss.

  22. I’m a morning person married to a night owl. I like getting up by 7, having coffee, catching up on great blogs (like this one). Hubby, on the other hand, prefers to sleep in, as he regularly stays up until 1am. I am most productive in the morning and like to get a lot done by early afternoon. Sunrise is a beautiful time of day in winter (in summer, of course, the sun is up at 4am which is a bit too early…)

    1. Hubby is changing his habits a bit of late. Sometimes on cold winter mornings he gets up at 6:00, has a cup of tea and goes back to bed. On those days I’m the first one up!

  23. Undeniably a morning person, not sure how much that’s natural or by choice or just by dint of training through circumstances for so many years (my mother had no tolerance for her teens sleeping in; then getting up early with my own; then out early for school or work). . . But I used to enjoy a lazy morning in bed with a cup of tea, and since his retirement over a decade ago I’ve given that up – – -both so as not to disturb him (he will sleep at least another hour than I can) and so that I can savour my tea on my own. I usually wake by 6, often earlier, and get up almost as soon as I’m awake. And unless I’ve been awake between 1:30 and 4, as I was last night, I can be a pretty decent Lark. (as it is, I’ll probably be Lark Who Naps today).

  24. Definitely a (very early) morning person. Even as a teenager, I rarely slept past 8 am. My family is so used to me getting up early that my DD was absolutely shocked when we traveled over the Pond together and I slept in until 9 am the day following our arrival. Of course, we had arrived on an overnight flight which ended up departing hours late–at midnight. I got no sleep on the flight due to two non-stop windbags (who are lucky to still be alive) sitting across from me. We then spent a good part of the day walking around London in bitterly cold weather trying to stay awake as we had tickets to see Hamilton that night (no trouble staying awake for that!). But it was almost midnight when we got back to our hotel and we didn’t get to sleep until after 2 am. Basically, I had been awake for 40 hours and yet, DD was amazed I slept until 9 am. We morning people are expected to live up to our label regardless of circumstances. 🙂

  25. Despite being a morning person, I still cringed at a 5:30 alarm in order to leave that house at 6:30. Retired for 7 years now (!), I am grateful and relish the ability to turn over and stay under the covers after an early morning natural wake up. I, too, remember listening to the radio to hear the name of our school on a snow day. Afraid to take a breath for fear we would miss it. Nice memories, Sue, thanks!

  26. I’m definitely not a morning person. Hubby, on the other hand, is the morningest morning person I know! When we were first married, he’d bounce out of bed, full of vim and vigour, and immediately start talking. And talking. And talking! Grrr… After we’d been married for a few months, he actually suggested, very seriously, that I should see my doctor. He was worried that something must be wrong with me because I was so lacking in energy in the morning! He didn’t realize that everyone wasn’t like him; that some of us need to approach the day more slowly. Thankfully, he learned and we’re still together 45 years later.

  27. Not a morning person. I can relate to scuttling back to bed and loving the feeling of being cozy under the duvet. I love weekends, because I don’t have to get up with an alarm. Staying under the covers on a winter morning is one of life’s big luxuries for me.
    If I have to get up very early and happen to see a sunrise, I agree that it is special. But it isn’t incentive enough for me to do it on the regular.
    I just finished reading a book about walking by Libby Delana. She goes out for a walk at 5:00 a.m. almost every morning (sometimes she walks at another time of day, but usually it is 5:00 in the morning). Bless her.

  28. Not a morning person! For over 35 years I rose early to prepare for my school day. I particularly struggled in the winter, leaving in the dark and often coming home in the dark. After retiring from teaching I worked in the business field, which required me to be at work no later than 8:15.
    So now I find myself enjoying staying in bed until 8:00 or 8:30 – unless I’m travelling. When I have a drive or a flight ahead of me, I find it easy to be “up and attem.” How I long to be able to travel again, not a short drive but a longer drive or flight that takes me off to reconnect with family or experience a different culture. Hopefully in 2022…

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