Staying up late was affecting the way I parent. I’m making an effort to stop revenge bedtime procrastination.

Woman in bed looking at her phone
  • I’ve always been a night owl, but now that I’m a parent I need to start going to bed earlier.
  • When I sleep more, I’m in a better mood and therefore a better parent overall.
  • But the period between my kids going to bed and my going to bed is the only time I have to myself.
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For all the complaining I’ve done about my children and their not-so-great sleep patterns – using extreme delay tactics, needing me to lay with them for hours, waking up early even when they go to bed late – it turns out my bedtime skills are even worse. Frankly I should be complaining about my own sleep patterns much more than theirs.

I’ve always been a night owl, but my desire to stay up late intensified after I became a mother. With all the serving, caring, worrying, and entertaining I do for others during the day, post-bedtime hours became my time to shine. It was my time to be me.

But since the pandemic started, my children, husband, and I have been on top of one another all day, every day. My late nights became even later, my daytime energy even more depleted. I went from no time to myself during the day, to somehow negative time to myself.

There have been some days I can hardly breathe because so many other people seemingly need things from me. So I make up for the lost time in the wee hours of the early morning until I look at the clock and realize it’s after 1 a.m. Then I force myself into my panic-sleep cycle.

A late bedtime hour caused by revenge bedtime procrastination that rolls into panic sleep is not a recipe for a restful night’s sleep. I am aware that my choices are not the best, but at the same time, it’s been really hard to quit.

When I finally get out of my kid’s bed at 8:30 when they fall asleep, only to then have to finish cleaning the rest of the mess in the kitchen or shower because I didn’t have a chance all day, I feel cheated. I get zero time to myself during the day; there’s no relaxing and recharging happening.

So for me, revenge bedtime procrastination is when I get to do all the things I want and never have time for during the day.

Sleep is so important for my parenting

Recently, after unintentionally falling asleep in my daughter’s bed at 8 p.m. and feeling much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning, I was reminded why this whole sleep thing is so important.

When I get more than five or six hours of sleep a night, I don’t feel as anxious the next day. I have more patience with my kids. I’m more likely to move my body and make healthy choices. I’m decreasing my high cortisol levels and choosing stress-free living.

I’m a better person when I sleep more at night. So now I’m trying to choose these things over the in-the-moment gratification of 5,000 TikToks in a row.

I’ve realized lately that what I’ve really been cheated of these past eight years of parenting is caring for myself. I don’t have anyone telling me it’s time to go to bed anymore as I do for my kids. I’m the one who needs to tell myself it’s time to go to bed. I’m the one who needs to stop complaining and start changing my bad patterns. So here I go.