The idea goes that I spend so many hours with my kids, I need time to myself to function properly, even if this means giving up adequate sleep to get said alone time.
I recently realized that this is an entirely untested hypothesis.
What if I actually function better if I get adequate sleep but sacrifice some of my precious Me time?
I really have never tried this for more than two nights in a row. I just can’t seem to give up the reading or blogging or blog-reading that fills the hours between the kids’ bedtime at 8:30 and 12 or 1 when I finally go to bed myself. What’s really awesome is when I go back and spend an hour reading my old blog posts. Yes, that is a very good use of my time. Or when I start some movie or tv show on Netflix and then lose interest or get bogged down by how weird it is for real people to be acting out stories in front of a camera so that I can sit in my pjs in front of my laptop and watch them pretending to be someone else. (Apparently, this is what happens when I get away from television for long enough: the entire concept seems weird to me. Which in itself is a profound shift because I used to totally rock the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game and now I can hardly recognize the names of the current stars. Or even the current movies.)
But I don’t go to bed feeling fulfilled. I feel tired and irritable and greedy for more time to waste. In the morning I’m all of those things plus resentful of my children for taking me away from my alone time. I’ve been snapping at the kids and just in general not being a very engaged and pleasant mommy.
This evidence suggests that my current “it’s worth being tired if I get to do nothing much for several hours every night” hypothesis isn’t working out very well.
My new hypothesis is this: If I get adequate sleep, I’ll be able to feel happier with my children during the day and make better use of the time I have to myself because I have less of it and won’t be so tempted to squander it.
To test this hypothesis, I will be going to bed at 9:30 every night for a month. Okay, well, maybe for a week. And if that works out alright, I’ll try it for two weeks. Then for a third, and with any luck, make it to a full month.
During this one- to four-week period, I will go to bed at 9:30 even if that means I don’t get to finish a blog post every evening. I’ll go to bed on time even if it means it takes me a full week to read a novel. (In this way, I suppose it will be in line with my focus on simplicity, too.)
I know that this will be a challenge. But I’m hopeful that once I’m more well-rested I’ll be better able to maintain routines during the day, which will benefit my children’s moods and my own. I hope that I will lose some of this brain fog and fatigue-related…you know, that thing where you can’t remember things? Not insomnia… Not magnesia…
At any rate, maybe I’ll be able to think more clearly and be more effective when I go to try to do something with my brain.
And maybe I’ll even be able to get some reading or blogging in during the day while the kids are up because they’ll be happy to spend some time playing quietly on their own after spending high-quality time with their new and improved non-zombie Mommy!
But I’m not holding my breath on that one.
What I’m really hoping is that I can actually follow my experimental design. Even during that year when my daughter was up at 4:30 every morning I couldn’t bring myself to go to bed at a decent hour. But I’m nothing if not inconsistently persistent.
So, here goes nothing! I’ll let you know how I do.