Home Motherhood How to Be a Good Parent When You’re Tired

How to Be a Good Parent When You’re Tired

by krismkoch

I should really have put a question mark at the end of the blog post title, because honestly, I don’t know the answer. Lately, I’ve been exhausted and I have found it nearly impossible to muster the strength to play with James and run after and plan activities for him so he can get his energy out — and I feel terrible. Honestly, I’m so exhausted and there’s so much going on and it happens to coincide with this period where James is really active and really defiant, and I find myself losing my patience more than usual.

I try really hard not to yell but I’ve found myself yelling after him when he grabbed a knife out of the dishwasher in a total panic, which a) definitely didn’t help the situation and b) scared him and c) just isn’t the parent I want to be. I find myself being short with him when he’s being a cranky pain in the you know what rather than trying to understand what’s going on (is he tired? hungry? bored? in need of attention?) and turning to the TV and screen time or being on my phone rather than spending quality time with him. It’s a cycle that I can’t seem to break these last couple weeks. Of course I feel awful about it, which isn’t helping. Mom guilt is the worst, right?

Honestly, I think I really need a vacation and a few good night’s sleep, but sadly, neither is going to happen right away. At this rate, I don’t know that I’ll ever be well-rested until maybe he graduates college, and I have been so stressed that I haven’t been sleeping very well. And then there’s the fact that scheduling a vacation feels like one more stressful to-do (even though I know we’ll be glad we took it once we did). I mean there’s a reason spring break was invented, right? We really haven’t had a family vacation since last summer. We got away at Christmas but we were with family, which, while so nice, is also busy and stressful at times, and then we visited my family for a long weekend in Florida, but it was basically same thing. Maybe what we really need is just some time away from work, from our apartment, from figuring out where we’re going to live next year and what preschool James will get into, and everything else.

As much as I do think a vacation will help, I also know that a break is not going to solve all our problems. I’m going to be tired and I’m going to have to figure out how to still be a good parent even when I’m stressed, busy, and tired. I know I’m being really hard on myself and winter is really tough, as is this age, but I don’t like feeling like I’m falling short with my kid and that he’s relieved when our nanny arrives on Monday (which he definitely was today). I don’t have a real solution right now. I think I’m going to start by coming up with a list of activities we can do with James on weekends that’ll help him get his energy out, get us out of the house, and allow us to have fun as a family. Then I’m going to seriously look into a vacation. I recently wrote about how I want to take an anniversary vacation sans kiddos, which I do think is really important still, but I would like to have a getaway with just our nuclear family so we can enjoy each other without the stress of life and with lots of activities and sun to enjoy. Maybe that’ll be my birthday wish this year.

I am also going to try really hard to work on putting my phone away in the mornings and after work and to be more present for James no matter how tired or stressed I am, but that’s pretty much always the plan — it just doesn’t work out that well.

So all my mom friends out there: how do you deal with your kids when you’re exhausted? How do you keep them busy in ways that make you excited to spend time with them? How do you tune out the millions of things you have to do and focus on your kiddos? Help!

On me: Sweater (old Everlane but similar here for under $100); VestJeansHat; Boots (old but similar here and here and here)

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2 comments

Flora February 25, 2019 - 7:56 pm

1) Don’t beat yourself up about it. We all go through phases where our kid(s) are overwhelming and we can’t quite hang. It will pass…
2) Try to figure out how to be less exhausted! Focus on your self-care first (power nap, go for a walk, take a workout class) and the rest will follow
3) Ask your partner for help when you are most exhausted and let yourself check out. Return the favor by giving him time for himself when you feel more up for it. After a really exhausting night, my husband and I will take turns playing with the kids and letting the other one nap or shower.
4) Finding a playmate for your child helps a lot too. It doesn’t even have to be a kid. Having friends stop by for a visiting on the weekend is a great distraction for my kids, and it’s nice to have an extra set of adult hands!

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krismkoch February 25, 2019 - 8:10 pm

thank you so much for these. they are so helpful and you’re so right about figuring out how to be less exhausted. I need to work on that!

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