Being a parent is exhausting. For me, the most exhausting part is between 6:00 a.m and 9:00 p.m., then again at midnight and 3:00 a.m. when the baby wakes up. Honestly, from nights up with baby that make me feel like I'm part of some research experiment, to early toddler wake-up calls (2:00 a.m. is not morning) and the seemingly endless trips to school, soccer practice, and swimming lessons, I've started to wonder if I'll ever get a chance to relax. The most exhausting part of parenting seems to be different for different parents, though, and it certainly changes as your kids (and you) grow and evolve.
In my conversations with other moms, it seems that I am not alone. In a way it's comforting, but also a little sad. Moms are expected to do it all, from sunrise to sunset (and many times between dusk and dawn, too). They don't have nearly enough time or opportunities to take care of themselves, and we rarely, if ever, it seems, get enough damn sleep. So, we make jokes about sleep-deprivation and "mommy brain," because laughing is better than crying. Instead of joking about how unhealthy our mom-lives are, though, we should be saying "whatever" to unrealistic expectations. We should stop trying to be perfect all of the time and prioritize self care, instead.
So, what part of being a mom is the most exhausting? It seems that, like many things in parenting, that totally depends on you, your baby, your family, and your unique situation. Read on for some exhausting, tired, and mind-numbing examples of mom-exhaustion, but at least we're going through it all together:
"My daughter was a sh*tty sleeper from the get go. It was five years before I started to get a consistent, uninterrupted night's sleep. That, and the mental load — having to know when all her appointments, swim lessons, school things were — on top of all the other things that fall on me."
"In the infant stage, broken sleep is the worst. It makes everything else harder. Then in the toddler stage, it's spending most of the time she's awake preventing her from injuring or killing herself. The kid loves to climb."
"That moment when you sort the kids out then settle in and relax yourself, and hear a resounding 'muuuuuummmmmm' coming from another room. Happens. Every. Time."
"When they really want something, but you can't understand what they're saying. You try doing the thing where you show them all of the things that you think they might be saying, but it just makes them more frustrated. High likelihood that you'll end up feeding them chocolate buttons in front of Peppa Pig to diffuse the situation. When you have multiple children and they stagger their requests, the end result is a 'Mummeeeeeeeeee' every 15 seconds (I once timed it).
Also, when they're ill and your mind races through all of the worst-case-scenarios. You just want to click your fingers and make them better, or take whatever they have for yourself, but you can't."
"Patience. The constant need to be patient."
"Balancing everything — work, dinner, house stuff, spending time with kids, spending time with hubby, having me time — it's so hard. Three kids are so demanding. Apparently I'm the most important person on earth, and it's hard to do anything besides herd them around."
"Navigating everyone's emotions and helping them learn what to do with their feelings. Being able to assess their needs, and teaching them how to manage their needs and feelings."
"Raising three medically needy kids, with mental health issues by myself."
"Literally being exhausted all the time, mentally and physically. There is no amount of sleep that is enough to be rested, and you get precious little sleep at that."
"It's the unendingness of it all — as soon as you clean, it's dirty again; as soon as you've fed them, you're getting ready to cook again; as soon as you've run a load of laundry, there's another to do. Add that to sleep-deprivation and the mental juggling of schedules and doctor appointments and if we're out of milk and is it time that she should be learning X and is it okay that she can't master Y yet, and why will they not stop annoying each other so I can just drink one cup of coffee?"
"The having to pay so much damn attention. Coupled with the crushing mum guilt when she gets into something, because I wasn't able to watch her at that moment.
'Mummy I'm thirsty'
gets drink, gives to kid, sits down
'Mummy I'm so hungry'
gets food, gives to kid, sits down
"Not getting to sleep through the night."
"The emotional labor."
"When my son started crawling, he was very determined to go up. I remember being at a 'mom and baby' meet-up where all the other moms were sitting happily on their blankets with their babies, and I couldn't even sit down because he was intent on killing himself by climbing the stairs. And he basically only slept for 45 minutes at a time at that point, so I was bone tired."
"Always being needed and the guilt. I feel guilty that I don't want to spend every moment with them. I battle depression, and I must have my self care time. I did go to the doctor for my physical today and discussed my emotional state. We decided it's time to start back on a low-dose antidepressant. I have to remember to eat regularly or it makes me too edgy.
Also, the brain fog after kids. I used to be so smart and now I can't remember what I was in the middle of talking about. I don't know why I have it or how to fix it. The baby sleeps through the night already. I know I'm a lucky duck but we have had our struggles elsewhere, so I don't think it's sleep related."
"Straight up it's feeding them. The incessant need for snacks is physically and psychologically exhausting. How hungry can they be? And then their utter lack of interest in anything I actually spend effort making. Why?"
"Even when I'm having a hard time or a hard life, or am exhausted, or burnt out, I have to maintain a kind, patient, and compassionate demeanor. We all have times in life where it gets hard, and our skin is thin and we're just burnt out and on our last rope. But I never imagined the internal struggle I would feel to maintain peace and kindness externally in those times."
"Before having kids, people always think they are busy. And it's true they are. But at work the work stops, and you can get a coffee, go to the bathroom, or go out for lunch. When you come home at the end of the day you can sit your ass on the couch and relax. After having a kid those momentary respites disappear. This is a new kind of busy. It never stops. You can't go to the bathroom without a baby sitting on your feet, or pulling toilet paper or peeking into the toilet bowl. You can't have coffee, lest the toddler stick their hand into the hot liquid. So, you stand at the kitchen counter and drink it. You can't be on your phone without toddler sticky fingers texting someone you didn't wanna text. When they are napping you do laundry. It's never-ending. It never stops. Ever."
"Repeating myself over and over, and then coming up with a new way to express myself so that my 7-year-old gets it."
"Three words: Stop. Touching. Me. I love my daughter, but she's in a very touchy-feely-grabby phase. She climbs me like a tree. A lot of the time, it's fun, but by the end of the day, sometimes I just can't take it anymore."
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