Revenge Bedtime Procrastination — Do You Stay Up Late To Have A Moment For Yourself?
It’s something so many of us — especially parents — do without knowing it.
‘There are never enough hours in a day,’ a colleague with two kids used to say to me. At that time, I thought: What? There’s plenty of hours in a day.
As a new mom, I now totally understand what my colleague meant. When I sit down at the kitchen table after a day full of baby duty and finally open my laptop to do something ‘for me,’ I often think of my work colleague. How right she was!
There really is no fat on a day with a baby — every waking moment is accounted for.
As I sit at the table, my eyelids are already drooping, but a part of me is still unsatisfied. And what do I do?
I try to artificially prolong the day, even though I’m totally exhausted and would really be best off in bed.
Does that sound familiar to you?
You Put Things Off All Day That YOU Would Like To Do
As I read in an article in the women’s magazine, Glamour, there is a label for this behavior: ‘revenge bedtime procrastination.’
Interestingly enough, this newfangled term contains the word ‘procrastination,’ which you’ll know very well as a mother. While responding to your child 24/7 and taking care of them when they have a major diaper disaster, you put things off all day that YOU would like to do.
For me, for example, it’s the desire to write down my thoughts, which I can do by blogging on medium.com.
When my little one was younger, when he had more naps on his agenda, I had more breaks when I could put my thoughts down on paper.
Now, however, I only have the hope of squeezing out some time in the evening.
A week ago, I was awarded ‘top writer in parenting,’ but since then, I haven’t written a single article about parenting. How ironic, I thought to myself. Although I don’t want to put it off my beloved writing, I have to because I’m a crunch time parent.
Mothers Have A Full-Time Job And No Control Over Daytime Life
Although the term ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ is mainly related to the fact that work (currently mostly from home) and all its technological possibilities absorb your whole day, you also have a full-time job as a mum.
But the phenomenon also refers to the fact that we have little to no control over our daytime life, as all mothers know very well.
To regain control and freedom, we try to become masters of the evening hours.
When I read about the term, I immediately thought: That’s me! It’s so relatable. Sitting at the kitchen table, super tired, I should go to bed, but I refuse to sleep to have some free time. This is my only ‘self-care time’ when I can do what I feel like doing without family life's constant noise.
Most Of Us Still Use Technology In The Evening
The term also means that most of us still use technology in the evening. The reason is that, when we put the mobile phone away, we are alone with our thoughts for the first time in the day.
For me, If I’m lucky, I spend my evenings in front of my laptop reflecting on my day and the weeks with my child and try to write it all down. But I also find myself reading, liking, and commenting on other people’s articles on medium.com. So in a way, I also distract myself by reading other mothers’ articles. (e.g., Christina Roz Warren Mindy Morgan Avitia)
We Are Social Animals, Feel Lonely And Free-Time Is Key
Ashley Willians, Ph.D. researcher and behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School, says that this psychological phenomenon can lead to a cycle of late-night anxiety because we don’t really switch off in the evening.
Can lead to a cycle of late-night anxiety
She found that — surprise! — mothers, in particular, suffer during the pandemic because they spend even more time on childcare and the household than before, and most of the mental load falls on the shoulders of mothers, not fathers.
Furthermore, Willians states that we are feeling lonely in times of pandemic. Our deepest wish, as social animals, is a human connection. We are longing for the exchange with others. I’ve learned, if we scroll through our phones at night or are sitting at the kitchen table in the dark and using social media, we are looking for access to another world, another reality, another life.
Moreover, the feeling of having free time is significant for our well-being, says Laurie Santos, Ph.D., the director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at Yale. At the same time, we can counteract the so-called ‘quarantine depression’ if we go to bed earlier and relax enough.
Thus, Santos’s recommendation is that we break the vicious cycle of revenge by going to bed and taking breaks during the daytime.
4 Recommendations To Break The Vicious Circle Of ‘Bedtime Revenge Procrastination’:
- Rethink your leisure activities (e.g., subsequent hours of scrolling and liking social media). Do they really give you a feeling of well-being?
- Does the Netflix next episode button count as “flow”? I don’t think so. Do leisure activities that provide a satisfying flow state.
- Give yourself ‘micro recoveries’ throughout the day when it’s still light outside to recharge, just for 5 minutes. For instance, listen to music, meditate, do a quick stretch after a Zoom meeting, go out for a walk around the block to feel invigorated.
- If you’re working part-time, take the worker’s right and get revenge by taking some time out of your 9 to 5 workday, e.g., by extending your lunch break.
For me, the label ‘revenge bedtime procrastination‘ is provocative enough to get me thinking. This phrase speaks to me and hits home.
As parents, especially moms, compared to the hours we spend at work and on baby duty, the number of hours we have awake for ourselves seem so few. At times, we are our own worst enemies. As a new mother, I’m guilty of wanting to maximize my awake hours at the expense of sleep to be prolific and creative in some way! Sometimes I catch myself really fighting sleep. I want to change and go straight into bed without defying my tiredness because I know sleep has such a massive effect on productivity, overall satisfaction, and well-being.
But to be honest, it’s a trade-off.
I don’t want to miss the positive emotions I get from writing and feeling free, alone, in the peaceful evening. Writing down my thoughts truly feeds me at a deeper level, and it’s the only time of day I have ‘me time.’
But I will be more mindful of my bedtime routine, take a moment to review my day, not only by sitting in front of a screen but by talking with my husband or taking a long shower.
That way, I won’t procrastinate with sleep, as I do with all the other things I want to do. As it turns out, my colleague was spot-on: there really aren’t enough hours in a day.
Try to be more mindful regarding bedtime routine and take care💕,
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