Parenting Exhaustion: SO much more than just not sleeping

Parenting and exhaustion just seem to go hand in hand.

From sleepless nights, to early wake ups, to children who just refuse to GO TO BED. Sleep deprivation pays a large part in just why you feel so exhausted all the time.

BUT – parenting exhaustion is so much more than sleep deprivation

We knew our lives were going to change the moment that the pregnancy test read positive.

In came pregnancy safe food, out went beloved Brie and wine. After all, it’s only for nine months of growing a human, all will be back to normal once they arrive.

Except, it doesn’t.

There is a fundamental mindshift when you realise you are now, not only totally in love with this new life you have created, but also totally responsible for their whole existence.

They can’t hold their head, speak, move, tell you what they want or need.

And it doesn’t change as they grow

The worries, the anxiety, the fears are all still there.

They take different forms these days, sure they can hold their head, but can they really climb that climbing frame in the park? Is it not just a little bit too big for them?

Sure they can tell you what they want to eat, but is it nutritionally balanced? Is it the right choice??

You just never switch off. Ever

From the moment you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow your mind is whirring. And then you dream about them. Waking up in a panic that you’ve forgotten something.

Feed them breakfast.

Is it enough? Is it too much? Are they putting on weight? Are they losing weight? Is it OK to give Cheerios seven days a week or should we be trying something else?

Smiling.

Get them ready for school.

Come on now. Clothes on. Get dressed. Should you be doing this yourself? Why do I always end up shouting? Am I a bad mum? Still shouting. Why won’t they put their shoes on?

Smiling. Still smiling.

Drive to school.

Is it safe to pull out? Can you guys be quiet back there? We don’t want an accident. Let me concentrate. Let me get there. Let me be safe. Let them be safe.

Big kiss, wave goodbye. Will they eat lunch? Will they be happy? Will they have a good day? Are they too young for school? Should I do more academically with them? Is what I do enough? Will they be picked on? Will they do the picking on? Are they kind?

Smiling. Still smiling.

Baby Time.

Poor neglected third child. Is it enough that I am with him? Should I not be more switched on? Is it really OK that he goes in the jumperoo so I can have a hot cup of tea?

Swinging from ahhh he will be fine, baby’s just need love and attention, to horrific mum guilt that he doesn’t always get what the others had.

Smiling. Still smiling.

Pick the older ones up.

A good day? A bad day? Why are they so tired… surely school is too much pressure. Why all the pressure?

All of them together.

Attention diverted between the three of them, mum guilt as I put ones needs above the others.  One crying, one laughing, one indifferent.  Switching over, the other crying.  Everyone crying.  Everyone laughing.  No one laughing.  Fixing fights, watching moments between them.  Working out when I need to step away and when I need to step in.  Questioning decisions, was I right to step in?  Was I right to leave them to it?

Dinner Time.

Food refusal. Is it enough? What can I do to help them eat a more varied diet? Why won’t they eat meat/vegetables/dairy/fruit* {*delete depending on the day} when they ate the same thing just last week?

Is it me? Is it the cooking? Should I find new recipes. Am I making bad habits by allowing them to choose?! Questioning. Wondering.

Smiling. Still smiling.

Bed Time.

Home straight. Except, why are they so wired? Are they over tired? Why am I shouting again? Do they really need a bath today? A story? Why won’t they sleep?

I’m tired. Too tired. They should be exhausted.

Settle them down. Return them to bed when they get out. Comply with requests for water. For cuddles. For monster scaring.

Down the stairs, ears pricked, always ready to run always alert.  Feed ourselves.

Get to bed, check the boys, more kisses, more love, head on pillow. Still alert.  Fall asleep, the sound of a baby crying…. jump up settle them, back to bed.

Not switching off, always ready if they need me, always there even when I’m not physically there.  Mind whizzing, parenting.

Parenting exhaustion is more than not sleeping

It’s never switching off.

That’s why parents are so tired.

That’s why I am so tired.

exhausted mum and baby
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