Here’s Why I Need Two and a Half Hours Alone Before Bed To Feel Like Myself

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Two and a half hours.

That’s the magic number.

Two and a half hours.

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That is the amount of time I need to myself, or even split between watching a show with my husband and doing my own thing.

But I need two and a half hours.

This time frame has been proven to be the average amount of time between putting my son down for bed and when I finally give in to my heavy eyes and droopy face.

It feels like every year the hour ticks further along the clock, and it’s no coincidence that the later my son goes to sleep, the later I give in to the much-needed slumber.

I look back on those earlier days, when my son went to bed at a loving hour, and I would shut everything down by 9:30pm and dive into what I knew would be far from a long and sound sleep. I often got woken up in the wee hours of the night by the little guy, and to me, I thought I was going to bed early to make up for the potential loss of time. It’s clear now that wasn’t the case at all.

I figured because I had so much anxiety around getting enough sleep, I just went to bed early.

There was no way I could predict the perturbing correlation between his bedtime and my bedtime that early in the game.

My mind was desperate for two and a half hours of ME time, and despite knowing what may come, no consequence could take away that pocket of time.

As the years passed and the shorthand of the clock crept past the numbers on its face, I slowly learned that it didn’t matter what time I’d go to sleep or when my son would wake me up. It wouldn’t matter that I’d lose precious hours of sleep and never make up for it.

I still need those two and a half hours of pre-sleep time.

My world unravels right up until the moment those precious silent hours are given to me. There’s making and doing and washing and cleaning. There’s feeding and bathing and cooking and arguing.

There’s a mound of things piled up on my plate and two and half hours is what is required to bring all that energy down.

So here I am, still awake at 10:30, playing a dozen rounds of some mind-numbing game on my phone. It never occurs to me to listen to my burning eyes while I watch some murder mystery in the dim light.

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Astounding, really. At least my husband thinks so.

And the thing is, this all happened so naturally. As if my body is evolving with the schedule. Like instinct, something that just happens to parents naturally.

The clocks ticks for longer and I’m no longer watching recorded episodes of Law & Order SVU, since I’m awake for the live episode. I don’t even feel bad for my pleading body as it calls for reprieve. My mind won’t give in.

Must. Stay. Up.

Two and a half hours.

It’s all I need to feel a small sense of normalcy and to just be with me. It’s all I need to catch my breath.

I just need two and a half hours.

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