Ahhh, bedtime. That glorious slice of day when you realize that you’ve made it. Putting the kids to bed is like a quiet victory dance. You don’t want to let them in on the secret that this is an amazing moment, but inside you’re practically screaming with glee. No matter how great the day has been, making it to bedtime is still secretly sweet. And if it’s been one of those hard days? You’ve been counting the minutes (seconds!) until this moment for hours now.
As you’re brushing teeth and changing diapers, you’re envisioning what you’ll do with the rest of your kid-free night. Watch a show? Make a late night dessert? Catch up on some chores? There’s so much you want to do that your mind starts buzzing with possibilities. How will you possibly fit in all the adult-filled glee you have planned for the night?
Often, when I come downstairs after tucking my littles in bed, I start by tackling the mess of the day (for I know that as soon as I sit down to rest, there ain’t no way I’m getting back up to clean anything; the first moments are crucial). But to truly clean up my day takes at least an hour (shocking, but true). Then there are the other tasks that I haven’t had time to accomplish but are nagging me from my to-do list. I decide to tackle one or two of those quickly. And maybe fold a load of laundry in between.
All of the sudden it’s after 9pm and I haven’t done anything remotely relaxing. I chide myself for all the cleaning and try to do something “fun.” A book! A movie! A snack! The possibilities are endless and enjoyable, but they’re also happening in what I have coined “evening mom time” – the inexplicable time warp that happens whenever you have alone time; time suddenly goes light-years faster than it should.
All of the sudden it’s 11pm and I know I should have been asleep hours ago to stay sane, but here I am, awake and trying to talk myself into why it’s okay that I’m not in bed yet. Have you seen the comedy special “Jerry Before Seinfeld” on Netflix? (It’s fantastic.) He does a bit on evening guy vs. morning guy, or in our case, evening mom vs. morning mom. Each night, evening mom is ready to stay up after midnight doing all sorts of fun things, making excuses and living large and eating copious amounts of cookies, but come sunrise, morning mom curses evening mom, stumbling out of bed bleary eyed and groping feverishly for some caffeine, promising herself that she will get to bed on time tonight.
Although my youngest started sleeping through the night a few months ago, I realized that much like Seinfeld’s “morning mom,” I was still grasping for energy every day, consuming way too much coffee and feeling generally languished in body and spirit. In my heart, I knew that going to bed earlier was the answer… but would it be worth it?
It’s ironic that amount of time that I spend calculating nap times and making sure my children are in bed on time to ensure their growth and health and good behavior, yet all the while neglecting my own need for sleep. The night time lured me in with its promise- “you time can go on forever!” – but never quite delivered.
So, recently, I’ve been making a concerted effort to put myself to bed. On time. Do I miss some of the never-ending evenings I had before? Yes. Of course. But I’m trying to stop doing all the things every night, and instead choosing one or two things to do each night; spreading out the fun across the week rather than cramming it into each night. And I’m thankful that I’m not draining out the coffee pot just to make it anymore. As long as my kids are finally sleeping through the night, I might as well enjoy the thing I’d been wishing for so long — extended, long sleep.
I’m also trying to make going to bed seem like less of a chore and more of a joy. Considering I spend hours a day dreaming of cozying up in my bed, why not go to bed early and actually enjoy cozying up for a bit before I fall asleep? Bringing a good book (not my phone) to bed, lighting a candle, journaling… all of these are helping to make bedtime seem like another fun adventure rather than a begrudging duty.
So here’s to you mamas- whether you’re still in the ‘waking up multiple times a night’ stage, thoroughly enjoying your late night adventures, or finding yourself making an earlier bedtime part of your routine.