A client sent me a hilarious—and tragic—Internet meme about being a “Revenge Night Owl.”
What is a Revenge Night Owl?
Well, it goes like this—
As a working mom, you spend your daylight hours serving your colleagues, clients, and customers.
Then you spend your evening taking care of your family.
And then finally once all the homework is finished, the dishes are washed, the laundry is folded, the tantrums have been managed, and the emotional caregiving has been doled out, by then? It’s probably 9 pm or 10 pm or later.
If you want any time for yourself—to stretch, unwind, meditate, journal, or (Heaven forbid) enjoy some recreation like Netflix or a fun book—you need to squeeze it all into the hours of 10 pm to 2 am.
You become a Revenge Night Owl.
You angrily seize whatever little scraps of time you’ve got, feeling irritated and resentful. You stay up way too late but it’s not joyful. It’s almost a form of protest. Rebellion. Acting out.
“This is the ONLY time I have, so I am taking it—even if it means being sleep deprived.”
Sound like you?
This is an all too familiar pattern for so many of my clients.
Being a Revenge Night Owl might be a funny social media caption that inspires many nods and chuckles from exhausted moms on Instagram, but it’s not a healthy (or sustainable) way to live.
The question is, are you going to continue being a R.N.O.?
Are you gonna do something about it?
Because you can do something about it.
You can do a lot.
– Teach your kids how to cook, clean, and help out. You’re helping them build crucial life skills and setting them up for success later in life. (Do you know how many college students don’t know how to boil an egg—or where to put a postage stamp on an envelope? Frightening.)
– Ask your spouse, partner, or housemates to chip in and help more. This might require having a difficult conversation that you’ve been putting off for 17 years. Now is the time.
– Set boundaries. If your mom loves to call you 13 times a day to anxiously discuss the latest Covid-19 news and prattle on for 60 minutes and it makes your brain hurt, you can say, “I love you, mom. I know you’re feeling anxious and I understand, but I’m not in the mood to talk about this right now. It’s been a long day and I need to get some rest.”
Or text her and say, “Hey, just FYI—I’m turning my phone off for the rest of the evening so that I can do some yoga and unwind for the night. Love you and talk to you this weekend.” Phone: Off. Disturbances: No more!
– Find a local high school or college student, an intern, or a personal assistant, and hire them to clear 1,000 tasks off your to-do list. Shopping. Meal prep. Running errands. Pet care. Car wash. Post office. Anything. You can pay $15 to $25 an hour—say, 5 to 10 hours a week for starters—and your entire lifestyle will be upgraded from C- to A+. There is someone in your community who be DELIGHTED to have this flexible part-time gig and the extra cash that comes with it. Win-win.
– Decide that you are no longer the mom who “makes a quick run to Target at 9 pm” to get that one thing your teenager desperately needs for school tomorrow that they forget to mention until today. Never. Again.
If you were a woman who is dedicated to her health—a woman who takes exquisite care of herself—what would your day look like? What would your evening feel like?
You would not be Revenge Night Owling. That’s for sure.
It’s time to raise your standards—and stop settling for scraps of self-care at 1:34 am.
Be a role model for the women and girls who are watching you—watching how you live, how you work, and learning from the example you set.
Do you want your daughter to grow up and become a Revenge Night Owl, too?
Do you want your son to assume that this is a normal and reasonable way for women to live?
Of course you don’t.
Be the change you want to see.
Get some f-cking sleep.
PS. I hope you’re not reading this message after midnight—and if you are, please stop reading and GO to BED.