Not a morning person

There is so much beauty in a pre-dawn world. 

For 8 years of my student life, I had to wake up at 4.15am to travel from Johor Bahru to Singapore for school. 

The chill of the air, the darkness punctuated by the last standing streetlight, the buzz of insects and chirping of the birds and the smile of the bus driver who only has a smattering of passengers. All of this I remember fondly.

The insidious violence of those mornings have also stayed with me. The harsh fluorescent light in my bedroom flicking on, cold water and a harsh facial scrub for ill-behaved teenage skin, being forced to gulp down breakfast with a churning stomach and the ever-present threat of being mugged as I waited for the morning bus.

The rising cacophony of car honks and the smell of exhaust -- they assaulted my senses and gave me a sense of safety.

As a young adult, I abandoned the act of waking up early and embraced the snooze button.

The past week, though, I’ve found the same wonder in those moments before the sun creeps up, in the stillness, in opening my eyes and experiencing the cycle of light and darkness human bodies are built to go though. And now, because it is my call, because this is part of a ritual, because it is done with intention, I feel a spark of excitement as I flutter into consciousness. I know that if I get up in the next minute I am going to be rewarded greatly for that one single bit of effort, that this decision will change the course of my day.

The sky is a dark bluish grey as my beloved and I fold and elongate our limbs, as we shake the drowsiness from our bones. The bed creaks as we step out. 

Together, we've completed our first act of the day, one part of a promise to own this life together and for each other.

Loving like a parent

A childcare routine is designed for the optimal well-being of a human. It can be simplified into five parts: nutrition, rest, physical growth, mental growth and life tasks. 

Why do we give the best care to our children but allow ourselves and our loves ones to indulge in accepted modern-day vices, such as alcohol and endless reality TV?

The ways we care for our children

We feed our young fresh -even better, organic- foods. We ensure they consume foods from all groups. We employ cooking methods that retain as much of the nutrients as possible, such as steaming, boiling, pureeing. We closely monitor their fluid intake. They drink chiefly water and milk.

We make sure our kids wake up early and go to bed early. They clock in at least 7-8 hours of sleep, every single day. Nap times, if any, are thoughtfully scheduled.

Physical growth
Tummy time for babies. Milestones such as crawling, walking, running must be hit. There are physical education lessons in school. We sign them up for soccer, ballet, swimming lessons.

Mental growth
They get playtime, not passive entertainment time. Everything given to them for fun, from LEGO blocks to books to educational cartoon programmes, is carefully curated to help their expand their minds. 

Life tasks
We make sure our kids brush their teeth, put their toys away neatly and bring their plates to the sink. 

When we are adults, these routines and guidelines that are designed for optimal living and growth are thrown out. In their stead, we consume fried foods and sugary drinks. We stay up late binge-watching TV shows. We become couch potatoes. We let our bellies grow and sag. Entertainment is mindless reality TV or video games. We leave our belongings strewn all around. And all of this is accepted, because we work so hard as adults?

Translating kiddie rules into adult rules

As an adult, you get to make the choices for yourself. And sometimes, it's harder to make good, difficult choices for yourself than someone else. Simple rules to follow: No sugar. No fried foods. Get your veggies in. Hit your water intake. Never skip a meal. This means going for the grilled salmon steak over the piece of fried chicken. It means choosing the fruit bowl instead of the chocolate cake.

Sleep and wake up early at the same time every day. If you want to nap on weekends, make sure it won’t affect your bedtime that same night. Plan and follow through with your daily rest time, so you won’t even accumulate ‘sleep debt’.

Physical growth
Work out 3-5 times a week. Do a combination of resistance, cardio and recovery training. Lift some weights. Learn proper form. Kids know how to squat instinctively, it is a fundamental movement that we should employ whenever we bend down to pick something up. Relearn that. Work on your mobility, you will be thankful for this especially in the later years of your life. Get your heart rate up at least 30 minutes a day. You will feel a rush of endorphins and get a healthy glow to your skin.

Mental growth
Mental growth should be both relaxing and engaging playtime for adults. It can be anything that makes you feel (versus something that is mind numbing and effortlessly addictive). Read books and watch films that make you laugh, cry, think. Take a walk outside and see the wonder in the blue of the sky and enjoy the feel of the sun on your skin. Learn how to cook a signature dish. Take pleasure in the smell of freshly baked bread. Write a letter to someone or a blog post. Travel. Be present. 

Life tasks
Live a life of discipline. Pack your work bag the night before. Have a nightly personal care routine. Go to the dentist every 6 months. Apply sunblock. Make the bed every time you leave it. Clear that email inbox every evening. You don't need to lead a regimented military life, but find small changes you know you should make for your own good, actually make them and assess how you feel after two weeks of consistency. 

The results of childcare principles in an adult's life

These routines and principles are designed to help the young function and grow into their best selves, and adults who follow them will start to feel an increased sense of well-being.

We consume food that powers us through the day, so there is no more mid-afternoon energy slump. We get sufficient rest so headaches and sluggishness are a thing of the past. Our bodies feel strong, so walking up stairs no longer leave you breathless and you won’t hurt your back trying to lift groceries. We are constantly learning new things and enjoying all the creativity, beauty and experiences the world has to offer. We no longer feel like we've just wasted an entire weekend doing nothing. We don't run into meetings unprepared. Our personal space is tidy in the way that works for us and fills us with calmness. Voila, we are adult-ing successfully. We're in control of our lives. 

If you (and your partner) want to have a happy, healthy life together, simply take care of yourselves (and each other) the way you will your child.