I'm writing this as I lay in bed next to my sleeping husband to my left and my sleeping 5-month-old in her crib to my right. It's about 10:30 pm. I'm tired. Yet I just scrolled Instagram mindlessly for a half hour and then checked my email, and now I've decided—I should write an essay about all of this.
I write a little and then get up for some water. I feel like tea, so I put the kettle on and wait for it to boil. At this moment, I know exactly how that cute little mouse feels who just wants another cookie. My bad bedtime routine is just like that story. One thing leads to another, and boom!—I'm up until midnight.
I make my tea, then check on my older girls. My 4-year-old is snoozing away in her bed, and my 2-year-old is peacefully curled up in her crib with her teddy bear. They look like sweet little angels when they sleep, and I could stare at them forever. But I don't want to wake them and disturb my precious, rare dose of silence that I crave so intensely, so I retreat to my room.
I remember that I haven't watched the latest episode of Grey's yet. So, I grab my headphones, pop them in and dive headfirst into the drama. My husband's eyes crack open a bit from the bright light of my phone and suggest I 'stop this nonsense' and go to sleep. I tell him I am going to, soon.
'Soon' being at the end of this episode. Which will make tonight's bedtime midnight—again.
Meaning that I will sleep about five or six hours, tops, tonight (because I have to factor in my 5-month-old daughter's middle of the night feedings).
I will wake up exhausted tomorrow—again.
I will drink three to four cups of coffee tomorrow—again.
I will complain about having no energy in the afternoon as I beg time to move faster and get my husband home sooner—again.
I will swear to the heavens above that I will go to bed early tonight—again.
I will write out my whole day's plans and to-do's in time blocks making sure I stick to my new schedule—again.
But will I?
Maybe during the day, sort of. But, at night? No.
No, I'll get my kids to bed and clean up from dinner and chat with my husband and then I'll lay next to him as he falls asleep like a 'normal person' around 10 pm and I'll get even the slightest hint of my second wind and decide—this is my time.
I am addicted to staying up late because right now—this is the only time I have for myself. Just for me.
Right now, my “I'm going to read, and then go to bed by 10 pm tonight" pep talks aren't working. My husband's kind, gentle reminders that I need more sleep aren't working. My exhaustion isn't even working. Nothing seems to be opening my eyes enough for me to realize I need to actually just close them.
I'm sick of hearing myself make these false promises of these radical changes I'm going to make to my routine. I can't even tell you the number of times I've said to myself—okay, I am going to start putting my phone down at 9:30 pm and I'll get right into bed! Then, I am going to read for a half hour and go to sleep by 10 pm!
I know I should listen to my responsible self and follow through on that 'good' bedtime routine plan. But, I don't—and so, the cycle continues.
Then, I got a migraine that lasted for four days. It was horrible. And I'm pretty sure it had to do with too much screen time and exhaustion—basically just running myself ragged.
So I've decided that I am going to combat this problem area with a realistic approach. The first way to tackle an issue is to look at what's causing it, right? My staying up too late is caused mostly by two things:
1. Mindless phone usage
2. No time to myself
So, I'm going to fix this. I am going to STOP LOOKING AT MY PHONE by 10 pm (this seems reasonable to me right now). I then *should* go to sleep—but if I have to stay up, then I can do something else like read or meditate.
I don't get much alone time right now in this season of my life. I have a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old. Enough said, right? But—I've decided I will make the time for it and do yoga once or twice a week (I have to start somewhere) and will continue to fit 'me time' in on the weekends when my husband isn't working.
Lastly, I am going to give myself the gift of grace. Realistically, this new mindset isn't going to be perfect every night. There will be nights I just don't want to follow my own rules, or nights when my baby needs to nurse at 11 pm and I check my phone out of habit. I need to continue to work on striking a balance between enforcing healthy 'rules' with myself but also having grace when things don't go just so.
I want to be healthy for my kids for as long as possible. I want to have more energy to tackle each day's monumental requirements. I want to be the best version of myself for them as long as possible.
I wish I didn't stay up so late, so I guess it's time to do some self-mothering and make some wishes come true!