No, getting up at 4am to work does not make you superwoman

You are not superwoman

The irony wasn’t lost on me that as I read this article: Garbage about being amazing because we get up at 4am earlier in the week I was in fact lying in bed at 3am wide awake and resolutely refusing to get up.   Because I didn’t need to.   Nobody needs to get up at 4am.

Unless they are feeding a baby

Or Louise Minchin

Or working shifts.

You really don’t need to get up at 4am to prove how successful you are at being a working mother. Surviving on 5 hours sleep or going to bed at 9am doesn’t make you superwoman.  It means you haven’t got your work/life balance right.    Nobody has a job that means they have put in those hours on a regular basis.  Surely

If you are getting up at 4.30am to get on a train before 7am I have to ask myself, who is doing the kids breakfast?  Who is dropping them off at school?   This must mean you have help, right?  A nanny, an au pair, a partner with a flexible job?    How else can you get out of the house at that time of day?   Those hours then are not “magic” they are just life.   Getting up at 4.30am is a requisite of working in the City and needing to catch that train, not because you are Superwoman.

 I regularly get up at 6.30am, it is what I do to get things done.  Not so I can get up,  go off and conquer the working world as these women all seemed to be.   But to get the stuff done in the house that needs to be done before I can work “normal office hours” conquering the world.    To talk to my youngest before she heads off to college for the day.  To feed the cats and dog, empty the dishwasher, put the washing on, tidy the kitchen.  You know, all those boring and mundane things that working families have to do.   Mr B is regularly out of the door at 6.30am and has no time to do that stuff, and we have no cleaner, no nanny and no au pairs.  So before I can go to work I have to do all that stuff.   It doesn’t make me superwoman, it makes me a working mum, even if my kids are teenagers.

What worries me is that in trying to achieve and maintain that superwoman lifestyle these women all appear to have a skewed work / life balance.    Going to bed at 8pm can’t be great for family, or trying to see friends, can it?   And surely no job is worth sacrificing time spent having fun.   If I went to bed at 8pm I wouldn’t ever see Mr B.  The reason I get up and get stuff done early is so I can collapse on the sofa with Mr B in the evenings.    If these superwomen are so busy working and not fostering friendships then who will be around when they retire and have all the time in the world to see friends?  The kids will all have left home and I suspect the friends will be long gone, bored with not being able to spend time together.

I bought a book recently called “The Four Hour Work Week” written by Timothy Ferriss it describes how to do just that.  Spend only four hours of your week working yet reaping the benefits.

Surely that approach would make you the true superwoman?

Photo of a woman asleep at desk courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • I agree with this. It’s not empowering to work all hours in the days and it’s not cool to sleep for so little. Eventually that will catch up with you. I’ve also been re-reading the Four Hour Work Week and have been trying to eliminate tasks and free up more time for spending with my family.

    • Thanks Phil for your comment. That lack of sleep also worries me. Surely driving is dangerous on so little sleep and I for one hope none of my family are ever involved in an accident with somebody who isnt concentrating due to lack of sleep.

  • I read a quote the other day which got me thinking, I can’t remember exactly what is said but it was along the lines of ‘stop the glorification of busy’. I believe there is far too much pressure on Mothers these days to do and be it all. It’s just not possible and all it results in is stress and exhaustion. Great post!

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m a self-employed writer with two young children. I despair every time I hear some business guru (usually male) declare that I’m a failure because I’m not working 15 hour days. The fact that I can’t work like that means that I’m incredibly focused during office hours so I get a lot done. It means that I can pick my five year old up from school. I used to be a lawyer and I always felt that I was dashing home stressed to see the kids for five minutes before bedtime. The time I have with them now is absolutely priceless and I don’t mind sometimes doing a bit of routine stuff in the evening because it’s my choice.

    • Thanks for your comment Kirsty. I am totally with you. I work over ten hours a day at home so I can be around my kids, yet the perception is that this is some kind of cop out, not a real job, and that I should be out in the “real world” slogging my guts out. For what?!

      We will look back in our retirement and know we were there for our kids, and that is all that matters.