Why Mums Often Stay Up Late, Even When Absolutely Exhausted

It’s getting late. I should be getting ready to go to bed.

But I’m not. I’m on the couch. Eating a cupcake, scrolling through Facebook and zoning out to Netflix.

In silence.

That’s right. No one is asking me for a bite of my cupcake. Or a snack. Or to swap my cheesy Netflix movie over to Teen Titans Go! Those are the perks when mums stay up late.

In three hours (give or take) I’ll be woken up by my son, who will come into my bed scared of the dark. Then an hour later my daughter will follow. Two more hours of sleep and I will be woken up again by my partner as he gets ready for work. Then, after one more hour (two hours, tops) of bedtime bliss, I will get my final wake-up call as my kids arise for the day, ready for a quick morning cuddle before tearing through the house and asking for food.

Eat. Sleep. Make Snacks. Repeat.

Then the day begins, starting with coffee, breakfast, lunches, uniforms, hair, teeth. Followed by a quick load of laundry, dishes, bed making, toy picking up along the way, searching for school shoes, changing socks because the first three pairs had a lump in them.

Suddenly it’s 8.25am. Time for school drop-off, followed by work, school pick-up, snacks, homework, more snacks, hanging out the laundry, swimming lessons or golfing lessons or dance class or whatever activity I’ve stupidly signed them up for this term.

By then it’s 5pm. And the dog is looking at me like I’m the worst person ever. So we go for a walk to a park. And return to make dinner. More snacks. Showers for the kids. Dinner. TV. More bloody snacks, this time in the form of dessert.

Books. More books. Tickles. Cuddles. 75 questions about the world that must be answered. And, finally, bed.

Well, bed for the kids at least.

Sleep is for the weak. And the mums who haven’t had a chance to chill the f out yet.

At this point it’s around 8.25pm. I am stuffed. I smell like garlic and sweat. I haven’t showered. The dishes are in the sink. The dog hasn’t been fed. The towels are all over the bathroom floor. The house is a mess. And the laundry is still outside on the line.

I should really ignore the mess (but maybe feed the dog), call it a night and go to sleep. If I go to bed soon, I can get around five hours of uninterrupted sleep before my son comes in. Nine hours in total… if all goes to plan.

But I can’t. Why? Why do us mums stay up late?

Because I literally haven’t had a second of solitude yet. Sure, I went to the toilet at work. Twice. But that doesn’t really count.

My body is tired. My brain is mud. But my mind is racing, still thinking about the things I need to get done before I call it a night.

To sleep… or to sit in silence staring at the TV? 

Here’s the thing. When you have kids, you have very little time to yourself. In those hours after the kids are in bed, you can choose sleep. Or you can choose alone time. See, ladies and gents, this is why mums are always tired. Because we tend to sacrifice sleep for solitude. 

Well I do at least. Often, not always, but often, I choose alone time (and the always tired aspect that follows) I choose to eat a cupcake or pour a wine while sprawled out on the couch. I choose to stare at a screen which, incredibly enough, doesn’t have talking animated characters on it. I might order the groceries, put away the dishes, fold the laundry. But I do so in silence. And alone.

Then I choose to go to bed relaxed, stopping to check on the kids along the way. Feeling a sense of calm and gratefulness that I didn’t feel a couple of hours ago when I last left their rooms. And feeling prepared to do it all over again in just another few short hours.

You see, these brief moments of solitude are a powerful thing. They can help bring you peace, even if you’re absolutely shattered.

Sure, sleep is important. But sometimes this sense of peace is more important than sleep. That’s why mums stay up late. And not having to share my cupcake is pretty awesome too.

Looking to make it look like you’ve actually slept a decent eight hours, even when you clearly haven’t? Have a read of our article on how to survive on minimal sleep (without overdoing the coffee). 

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.


  1. Avatar of Miriam

    So true. My day begins at 6.30 am. Kids in bed 9.30pm. Then my night time cleanup begins.

  2. Avatar of Delon Quinn
    Delon Quinn Reply

    Mom of 3 including a 3 month old Lord help us because we are incredible human beings

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