There’s a rumor going around that parents are losing sleep for things like newborns, transitioning kids from cribs to big beds, or even kids being afraid of the dark. And while yes, I admit, those ARE actual reasons that some of us parents are losing sleep these days, there’s another reason for the majority of us that we may not like to admit.
I mean, all of us really want sleep, heck, we love it. We are adult enough to know the importance of sleep, and we remember all too well the newborn phase where crying before sleep was normal because we didn’t know how much sleep we were going to get that night. We remember, and so we SHOULD be wiser. We SHOULD know by now how much sleep we need to be at the top of our games the next day. We are at the age where we see significant differences in the bags under our eyes when we go without sleep. We see our patience levels decrease when we are tired. We already have mom-brain, so the lack of sleep just decreases our IQs significantly. We know by now that our minds need to run a million miles a minute, going over the many to-do lists in our heads to keep our family moving, productive and alive. We SHOULD know better. But, ugh, we just can’t.
There’s this amazing feeling when you walk out of your child’s room at night, close the door behind you, and know you are FREE for at least a good 8-10 hours. Your rational mind is saying, “You should wash your face, take a vitamin, read a chapter on positive reinforcement, and go to bed.” But INSTEAD, we decide to watch mind-numbing TV, drink wine or do basically anything we wanted to do all day but couldn’t because our lives aren’t our own anymore. We are owned by these tiny demanding humans. And, in full disclosure, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We go and go and go because let’s face it, they make life worth living. But, oh man, those few hours to yourself.
So, you kiss them goodnight, tuck them in, close the door behind you, and it’s at that moment when we are all faced with the impossible question, “Should I go to sleep, or go sleep-deprived tomorrow in order to get a few hours to myself?” The struggle is real. If we admit it, most of us choose the me-moments. And yes, that glass of wine and Netflix binging feels good in the moment, heavenly even. We get glimpses of how we felt when all we had to do was come home from work, make ourselves some cereal, pour a glass of wine and veg until we put ourselves into bed at a decent hour of around 9pm in order to be our freshest for our kick-A jobs the next day. Oh how ignorantly blissful our sleep life was then. Those witching-hour moments are almost euphoria for us now because we finally have the partner and kids we were always dreaming about in our single days, but now we are feeling free and carefree like we are in our single days again, if only for 2-3 hours at night. Win-win!
We choose that me-time over sleep time and time again (against our better judgement) because we want to feel like ourselves again. We want a few moments where someone isn’t hanging or climbing on us. We want a few moments to ourselves where no one needs us. We enjoy the independent feeling of just BEING instead of taking care of everyone else. Sounds selfish. Yep. But if we, as parents, give and give and give, I think allowing ourselves those few hours to be selfish is more than needed; it’s survival.
So, take the time you need mom and dad. You can sleep when your kids are….oh well, we may never sleep again. But, buy yourself some good eye cream, make a strong pot of coffee, and give yourself a break. You deserve it.