Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm a Raccoon Mom

Finally, some validation that I can't be the only mom who sacrifices sleep for precious "me time." I came across this article from the Globe and Mail that talks about Raccoon Moms. I'm just going to paste the article because I know that I'll want to refer to it again.

Dawn of the raccoon moms
Desperate for private time, bleary-eyed mothers are forgoing sleep to work, shop and instant-message in nocturnal peace and quiet

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
February 24, 2009 at 9:35 AM EDT
VANCOUVER — Kimberley Da Silva is all too familiar with the mind-numbing, eyeball-searing, headache-inducing tortures of chronic sleep deprivation. She has a daughter, aged 3, and a seven-month-old son who is nowhere close to sleeping through the night. For Ms. Da Silva, however, the rude awakening of motherhood was not the diaper changes at midnight or the 2 a.m. feedings, she says. It was the utter lack of alone time.
So, instead of following the usual advice - "sleep when the baby sleeps" - Ms. Da Silva puts her kids to bed at about 7 p.m. and then stays up until the wee hours.
Basking in her interruption-free zone, the 31-year-old Vancouver mother watches TV until midnight or studies for her licensing exams as a clinical psychologist. Sometimes she cleans the house. Other nights, she lays out her scrap-booking supplies, knowing they won't be grabbed by tiny hands.
Ms. Da Silva says she gets by on about five hours of shut-eye in a 24-hour period - a broken five hours at that. At times she's "really exhausted," she says, but her nightly chunk of free time is "precious and worth missing sleep for." Without it, she adds, "I just feel ripped off."
For women who spent years travelling, studying or building careers before having kids, the relentless child-minding and domestic chores of motherhood can come as a shock. After hours of doing laundry, wiping grimy hands and whipping up purées, some mothers are so desperate for "me" time that they become nocturnal. They turn into raccoon moms who rob themselves of sleep so they can write in their journals, update their Facebook profiles or do a little contract work sans kids.
Some are secretive about their active night lives, fearing the judgment of the sleep-
hygiene brigade. But most insist that moonlighting as free agents is the only way to revive a part of their pre-mom selves.
Technology makes staying up more tempting than ever. While their husbands snooze, these women shop online, band together on parenting websites - such as the Nocturnal Mamas forum at - and instant-mess- age each other.
Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit, 40, started burning the candle at both ends about a year and a half ago, when she founded her Vancouver-based e-newsletter,
Her daughters, aged 3 and 5, are up at the crack of dawn, but Ms. Tempelman-Kluit says she rarely hits the sack before midnight. She's too busy Twittering, writing for her website and replying to e-mails from clients and friends. "A lot of mom entrepreneurs are online at night doing the same thing," she says.
Ms. Tempelman-Kluit says she gets a second wind in the evenings, even though she doesn't nap. But she pays for her increased productivity with "extreme fatigue" and a toll on her marriage, she says. "It's hard on the relationship because I'm at my computer - I'm not hanging out with my husband."
Lisa Parsons, a 35-year-old mother in Edmonton, is so nocturnal that she practically hibernates for half of the day.
She stays up as late as 5 a.m. to putter around or watch old X-Files episodes, and she seldom gets out of bed before noon. Her children, aged 3 and 7, are natural night owls as well, she says; they usually slumber from 10:30 p.m. until late morning. Her kids are home-schooled, so their sleep habits don't conflict with scholastic routines.
But they do miss out on some activities because the family rarely leaves the house before mid-afternoon. "By the time we get ready and out the door, everything's starting to shut down for the day," Ms. Parsons says.
Most nocturnal moms say they do everything possible to ensure their kids get enough sleep. But they may fail to recognize the signs of sleep deprivation in themselves, says Nicky Cohen, a clinical psychologist in Toronto who counsels families on sleep issues. Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, poor memory, forgetfulness, anxiety and irritability.
Fragmented sleep is not good-quality sleep, she adds, and mothers with erratic sleep patterns may not be parenting at their best level.
"I'm a little skeptical that these sorts of sleeping patterns are sustainable," Dr. Cohen says.
Instead of missing sleep, mothers who need a break could ask a relative or trusted friend to help with the kids, or do child-care swaps with other parents, she says.
But nocturnal mothers say they need alone time more than once in a blue moon.
And some say they're well rested, even though they burn the midnight oil every night.
Julie Benoit, a 33-year-old mother of three, says that in a typical 24-hour period she gets two blocks of sleep that add up to between six and 10 hours.
Most nights, she's awake between 11 p.m. and 3 or 4 a.m. It's her time to shop at 24-hour grocery stores or call the friends she left four time zones away when she and her family moved to Bellevue, Wash., from Halifax.
Ms. Benoit says she has always been a night owl, and she sees few downsides to this.
"I get the most out of my sleeping and my waking hours," she says. But, she adds, "The longer I do it, I see it being harder and harder to stop."

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