Sleep is important for your health, that’s a given.
At least that’s what I tell my kids when I’m shuffling them off to bed so I can get a little peace. I swear, the difference in my gentle maternal attitude is striking when comparing pre-bedtime and post. If it’s so much as 10 minutes after your bedtime and you’re dawdling to get in bed, you’re gonna see a whole new side of mum.
But sleep is important for grown-ups too. And most of us aren’t getting enough. Between work and momming and trying to carve a few minutes out for yourself, something has to give and it ends up being sleep. That isn’t to say we aren’t tired. We are painfully, endlessly tired. But to be honest, if I have to pick up that tired where we left off the night before to get a couple of hours to myself, then that’s what’s going to happen. Because it’s the only time I have.
I stay up later than I want to nightly because it’s the only time when I can read, watch T.V., and pee in solitude. I stay up late to pluck my chin hairs, to bathe, and to catch up on trashy movie franchises. It may not sound glamorous, but in my life, it’s tantamount to a 5-star holiday. Sometimes those late nights are the only thing that makes me feel human again.
There’s many of us, you may be able to pick us out by the bags under our eyes when you spot us at the store or at drop-off. Droves of parents who stayed up way past their bedtime just to get a little bit of “me time”… it just came at a cost. Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable all the same.
When your kids are babies, their inconsistent sleep schedules make it so that choosing between sleep and your own alone time is an exercise in danger. Choose the wrong one and you may have missed the boat. However, when they’re older and a little easier to predict, you’re in the position of needing to fit a whole functional lifetime into those few precious hours. Your very sanity might hinge on the side of staying up late. So you keep pushing it and flirting with the clock, because time is simultaneously valuable and fleeting.
Although sleep is good for your health, so too is taking a break from your responsibilities and kicking back a bit. In the early years, it may be harder to get out and do a girls’ night or take a class, so that time late at night might be the only time you get. So if you use it to read, or zone out in front of the telly, or to read internet trash then so be it. Because in those early years, self-care is both sacred and scarce. There will be plenty of time to sleep one day… until then, stay up late! All in the name of peace and quiet.