Let’s start this post with a short questionnaire that will categorise my readers.
(1) Are you a mother? (If ”yes”, move on to question 2)
(2) Does your baby/child sleep through the night? (Continue on to Question 3 if ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
(3) Are you tired? (‘Yes’ or ‘no’)
So we will categorise the readers into two: those of you who are tired and those of you who are not. You may have noticed this Questionnaire is flawed, my fellow mothers. Not only does it single you out, but also shows that regardless of your social class, gender or ethnicity, you are always tired so there really is only one category (what about those who answered ‘no’ to Question 1? They would be in -another category- stop being a nitpicker).
If your little one still hasn’t been able to sleep through the night, you probably dream of a full night of uninterrupted sleep and waking up feeling refreshed and alert. Whilst you will eventually be offered a chance to do this (hang in there!), whether or not you take this beautiful opportunity is a wholly different matter.
Some mothers may use the golden time that their baby is sleeping to finish their household chores (cleaning, laundry etc). After completing all their necessary tasks, they sensibly tuck themselves up in bed, still able to get in a decent amount of hours of sleep before their baby wakes up. If this is what you do, well done!
Other mums will instead indulge in what I like to call ‘Me’ time. This consists of time spent unwinding, relaxing and doing things for yourself. Being a Mother means giving your whole self to your children most of the day, so of course, once alone, they would need time by themselves for themselves, doing whatever makes them happy (not doing this can lead to feeling ‘burned out’- will do a separate post on this).
‘Me time sounds lovely if it makes a mother happy, and definitely a joy, so where’s the woe?’ I hear you ask. Well, like all good things, ‘Me’ time comes with a consequence. The free time spent awake means free time wasted by not sleeping. This is my constant dilemma: should I stay up and enjoy doing ‘Me’, something I can barely do when my children are awake? But I’ve been so tired the whole day, so maybe I should just sleep, something my body is in much need for? But then I lose out on hours of free time wonderfully having nothing to do for once, so maybe I should just stay awake for a few hours? I said that yesterday and ended up staying up till 3am…
In this post I will be writing in more detail about the joys and the woes of ‘Me’ time.
Let’s get stuck in.
The Joys of ‘Me’ Time
I LOVE ‘Me’ time. By the end of the day, when my children’s bed time is near, after cooking, cleaning, doing nappies, wrestling unsafe objects off my DD, wrestling my SS to change his nappy, switching between fun mummy mode (singing and dancing mode for my eager, small audience of two), to stern mummy mode (‘eat your dinner!’-‘Tidy up your toys’-‘stop trying to cruise around the room SS, its dangerous and your only 7 months for goodness sake!’) to contemplative mummy mode (‘I need to be a better mum, maybe I can start ______ with my SS/DD?), to loving mummy mode (‘I love you both so much, I could die’), to psycho mummy mode (‘SHUSHHHH, SS IS SLEEPING!!!’-‘DO NOT TOUCH THAT!’-‘EAT YOUR DINNER NOWWWWWWW!!’), to brain-dead mummy mode (What’s the point, I don’t even care anymore), to say I need time to unwind and relax is an understatement.
I may have been tired the whole day, craving a good nights’ sleep, but as soon as my little ones have been put to bed, my once sleepy eyes widen, hunched-back posture straightened and brain-dead state woken up, alert and ready for anything (both dramatic and peculiar, I realise my description has likened me to a wild animal but you get where I’m going with this). Suddenly, my possibilities seem endless, and a small, cheerful voice in my head suggests ‘go on. Stay up just for a little while. You know you want to. You aren’t even tired anymore…’
I look at the time. It’s only 8pm. ‘You only need 8 hours sleep. It’s a scientific fact! If you sleep by 11pm, you’ll get that. And thats 3 hours away. 3 WHOLE HOURS!!!’. Completely sold by then, I walk the opposite direction to my bedroom to the living room, feeling wide awake (I pass the kitchen that is in need of a clean- ‘way too tired to do that right now’).
So, I’ve built you up to perhaps wonder; what exactly do I do in my ‘Me’ time slot? Go out and meet friends? Maybe hit the spa for a massage? Go and treat myself to a gourmet dinner and dessert?
Er, not exactly.
Not at all actually. Here is a list of typical activities I would get up to in my hours of ‘joy’.
Not very glamorous, right? But to me, this really is my golden time. Before having children, activities like these wouldn’t have impressed me much, but as a mother I’ve learned to love these little moments of complete carefree nothingness. I am extremely busy during the day (even if I am sitting down doing nothing, there is always something I should be doing. The phrase of ‘a mothers work is never done’ couldn’t be more true) so being able to just lounge about, not worry about anything, most importantly my children, who are safely tucked up in bed, and do simple things that are virtually impossible when they are awake, is priceless.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love, LOVE being a mum. I changed for the better when I gave birth to my two little munchkins, they made me better, and my life became so much better. Though in changing, I am still me and enjoy doing things that I used to do when it was just me, so of course ‘Me’ time is always appreciated, and needed for my own sanity. A nice cup of tea, comfortably sitting on my couch, lights dimmed, a throw to keep me warm and my iPad to browse through feels like the best activity in the world (I know if you are a mum you get why that is such a joy).
Whilst that is all lovely, lets start to talk about the woes of ‘Me’ time.
The Woes Of ‘Me’ Time
Remember when I promised myself I would be asleep by 11pm to get in a good, 8 hours sleep?
So I’ve been in the living room for 3 hours. It’s 11pm now. I should sleep. But I’m in the middle of watching a TV show on my iPad. There’s only 20 minutes left now and then it’ll finish. ‘You might as well watch it all now. It’s only 20 minutes’ I tell myself. So I do, intending to get up after and go to my bedroom. Except it ended with such a cliff hanger…’Might as well make it a round number and sleep at 12.00pm. Watch the next episode, you deserve this’ the stupid voice says in my head. So I do.
By the time I’ve finished, it’s 12.10am. ‘How awkward, might as well sleep at 12.30pm now. Let’s go on youtube and watch some funny videos’ the idiotic voice now suggests (the voice is youuuu, you imbecile!!!).
After some laughter, I look at the time. It’s 1.30AM.
I’m suddenly filled with dread. What have I done?? I have the feeling of deep self-loathing, regret and abrupt drowsiness. Oh well, I’ll just go to bed now I guess.
Then I remember I haven’t done the dishes, or folded the laundry, or ironed my SS’s uniform, or tidied up the living room, or used my brain to do anything useful at all for the past five hours.
5 frigging hours. FIVE!
Now no longer feeling like the cheerleader who was active and wide awake but rather like the mother who was so exhausted the whole day, I get up and start on my chores (it is often said to me, ‘just do it tomorrow morning!’, but I cannot sleep until everything is done, I’m weird like that).I do the dishes in deep contemplation. Why do I always do this? Is it all worth it? What did I actually do this whole time? Was it better than a good nights sleep in my nice, comfortable bed? Definitely NOT. ‘Me’ time shmi time, nothing is more important than sleep. When I have early nights (rarely), I wake up in the morning feeling content, and me and my bed part on good terms, rather than be dragged off by my husband. My days seem more relaxed, and I’m less irritable and calmer dealing with my toddler and baby. So surely the woes associated with ‘Me’ time outweigh the joys?
Resolving to never do this again, I finish up, refuse to look at the time to prevent further depression (I suspect it’s 3am now but ignorance is bliss), I go to bed and pass out.
After what feels like an hour, I get woken up by my DD and, feeling so tired I want to cry, start the day, dreaming of the early night I’ll have that evening…
Except I probably won’t.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I alone in this dilemma? What do you think is more important? ‘Me’ time or sleep?
Thanks for reading 😊.