Parenting exhaustion

Boy, is it exhausting to be a parent or what?!  You start off with the nighttime wake ups but at least when they’re that little, they’re not moving around too much.  Remember when you’d put them down and they’d just stay put?!  It’s like a distant memory, right?

And, by the time you’re actually getting a good night’s sleep (except for the occasional accident or vomiting in the bed), they’re running around like crazy people and screaming, “Play with me! Play with me!” and wanting to go to the park and the pool and everywhere else they can think of.  Whew!  I feel tired just thinking about it.

I’ve heard some divorced parents admit that they’re actually relieved when they’re kids go to their co-parent’s house.  And now that I’m a parent myself, I can see why!  It really does take a village, doesn’t it?  I think we should all have statues erected in our honor if we survive parenthood long enough to see our adult children become exhausted parents.

As a kid, one of the things I never understood was why my parents didn’t have the energy to play with me all the time or take me wherever I wanted.  The idea that resting would be more fun than constant activity was a completely foreign concept.  I think the only time I was still was when I was mesmerized by the television or forced to sleep.

One of the things I loved about being a nanny for twins was that at least they always had each other to play with.  But the truth is, you can’t always just pawn off the littler kids with the bigger kids.  In fact, sometimes that creates more of a hassle than a help.

So, what do we do when we’re tuckered out and our kids are raring to go?  Well, I like to set them up with a self-directed activity and then sit nearby and read a book or rest while they are engaged in playing and learning at the same time.  Here’s a post I wrote a while back about some things kids can do mostly on their own.

There are tons of things that kids would love to do themselves, but often it feels like more work to let them.  Take cooking for instance.  Everyone I know loves to eat cookies.  And kids love to mix and bake them too.  Sure, they’re likely to make more of a mess than you would, but amazingly, they also often ENJOY cleaning up too!  I wrote a post about how to get kids to help with clean up too.

But, once you have them set up with an activity, the really challenging part begins.  We as parents must choose to take care of ourselves and actually REST, rather than jumping up to do another load of laundry or cleaning up after our kids while they’re still making a mess.  We need to learn to stop and take a break!

So, what can you do to maximize the 5-10min. window you have when the kids are happily engaged?  Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

1)     Close my eyes and take deep breaths (or meditate)

2)    Read a novel

3)    Take a bath

4)   Sit outside and watch the wind blowing through the trees

5)    Yoga

6)    Take a cat nap

7)    Smell the roses (literally)

What are the things that you could do to maximize the few minutes of restful time you can squeeze out of the day?  And how else do you deal with the exhaustion of parenting?  Please let me know, I could really use some help on this one!

Have a great week, Shelly



Emma Combes
Emma Combes

Thanks Shelly, I wrote a post a while ago about something similar. It is so important we use what free time we have wisely to recouperate in whatever way we need. its so easy to get drawn into cleaning the house or 101 other things like you say! :)


No it doesn't sound sad at all Anne! I agree, checking facebook and twitter can bring a little bit of social connection to an otherwise baby/kid centered day! And anything that makes me smile helps me feel a little bit more alive. Thanks for the reminder.


I know this sounds sad, but checking in on Facebook makes me feel less isolated. And there's usually something to amuse me or a post from a faraway friend to put a smile on my face. Or sympathy from my mommy friends when I'm having a hard day.

Now off to check out your post on things kids can do mostly on their own.


Thanks for the love and for the suggestions Marcella! I agree that fitting self-care practices into our normal daily routines is a great way to rejuvenate. Sending love back to you in Vermont. xoxo

Marcella Eversole
Marcella Eversole

Dear Shelly,
Since it took my son Hart 2 years before he slept through the night yet he did things like walk early, I was very challenged as a new parent. I love your suggestions here and also found that doing things like meditation and intentional breath practices during his normal routine-- like putting him down for a nap-- helped tremendously. Sending you lots of love from Vermont!