Not only is parenthood wonderful and challenging, fulfilling and frustrating... it's weird. Because it required a total shift in consciousness, away from my own needs and towards these tiny humans I was 100% responsible for, I've had to get, shall we say, very, very creative in order to find time to focus on myself. And maybe it's sleep deprivation, or a result of these major life changes, but moms like me do some weird things after their kids go to sleep. Like, really weird.
I'm not just talking about getting your freak on in the bedroom. I mean, we do that, too, of course. But I'm talking about standing in front of the freezer and eating ice cream without having to share, or putting on and take off new makeup looks, or going for long runs in the dark. I'm talking about marathon watching all of the "for mature audiences" shows you can, because you know tomorrow will be nothing but The Wiggles and Ask the StoryBots.
When I've asked other parents about the weird things they do after their kids go to bed, I wasn’t surprised by (and I certainly didn't judge) the things they do once their littles are sleeping. It's clear a lot of us rely on the time between our kids' bedtime and our morning alarms to be ourselves, autonomous from these tiny humans in our care who otherwise demand our every waking moment. And because we have to fit it all in at a time when we should probably be sleeping ourselves, things can get weird, fast, and as the following real life stories demonstrate:
"As soon as they’re in bed I crave junk food. Two nights ago I ate potato chips dipped into homemade buttercream frosting with a coffee mug of cheap white wine while watching Masterchef. It was amazing."
"I go right to the bathroom and pluck my eyebrows or pop pimples, blackheads, examine my pores, and then sit on the toilet, even if I don’t have to go, and just play on my phone for a while."
"I break out candy and junk food, watch TV, over-schedule myself with all the random crap I couldn't do during the day, and don't go to bed until 4 a.m. Sometimes, I watch workout videos while lounging on the couch eating aforementioned junk food. Last night I put extensions in my hair, just for giggles. They look terrible."
"I don’t feel like it fits the criteria for 'weird,' but I’ll sometimes clock watch for bedtime, but then immediately after leaving her room spend 45 minutes going through all my pictures of her.
I'm super excited for 'me time' nights when my husband works, and spend the day dreaming up how I’ll spend my time just to end up forgetting to change her bedtime cartoon and sit on the couch for an hour on my phone with it on until I’m ready for bed."
"I eat everything in the house while watching anything made for an adult audience. Sometimes this involves eating Nutella with a spoon.
I do not do the cleaning and tidying I told myself I would do after bedtime. Occasionally, I’ll do my nails."
"Honestly, the weirdest thing I do is stay awake, but I also eat junk food, and pluck my eyebrows or other facial hair."
"I always intend to get a ton of work done after they go to bed. Then something will happen, and they won't go to sleep on time. So, I will stay up way too late trying to get it done and then end up losing out on the sleep I need."
"I will give myself facials and eat dinner in peace without being interrupted or having to share my food."
"I realize 20 minutes after they’re in bed, that Lion Guard or Octonauts is still playing in the living room."
"I will stare at them while they are sleeping. I know I should try to do something productive, but I find myself lying next to them and falling asleep myself, or enjoying quiet moments watching them sleep."
"I usually work out, shower, and shave my legs after bedtime."
"My husband and I rely on that time to have sex or otherwise connect. It's really the only time we get to spend with each other one-on-one, so we put our phones down and get it on."
"I try to relax by any means I can — a glass of wine, petting my cat, a bath, lighting a candle, doing yoga without a toddler climbing on me. I am so wound up all day long that I need to let go."
"I watch the all the shows they aren’t allowed to see."
"I clean. I know it's not super sexy or interesting, but there's something about starting each morning with a clean house that makes my life seem less stressful. I make my rounds each night to pick up toys off the floor, run the dishwasher, and throw some laundry in."