Anyone without kids who think they know true exhaustion can suck it. I say this with love, but also with a straight face. I have never known the depths of exhaustion until I had kids. I knew what it was like to not sleep for days, I knew what it was like to sweat until my muscles seized, I knew what it was like to work on solving a problem until my brain actually ached. But ultimately at the end of all those days, I could curl up and sleep. I mean really sleep, sleep without one ear on the monitor, without a toddler calling my name to tell me he pooped, or without remembering that I forgot to turn on the washing machine with his favorite lovey in it.
So we get it, parents are exhausted. There’s no getting around that, but what can we do about it? Well, these are the stages of acceptance for sleep loss:
Denial: Rage, sister-friend, rage. You go ahead and pretend that this is just like your college days and that you can totally burn the candle at both ends. Might be fun while it lasts, but just like Charlie Sheen, you will go down in a ball of flames eventually.
Anger: By anger I obviously mean angry at your spouse, duh. Who else can you blame for your current situation? They did this to you! Why do they still get to leave the house like a normal human or somehow never hear the baby crying?! Get it out, girlfriend. Warning, it may be best to get it out to your girls though, because your man is probs pretty exhausted (and doing his best, too) and telling him that you want to punch his stupid smiley face might not go over well… I’m just guessing, definitely not from experience. Also: sorry, Scott. I love your stupid smiley face.
Bargaining: Apparently you can’t bargain (aka bribe) a child to sleep more. I’m definitely still trying, though.
Depression: It’s ok to be sad about this. No seriously, it’s ok to be bummed that you’re going to be running on 70% (if you’re lucky) for the next decade or so. It’s ok to wish that you could turn it all off for a minute or day. That doesn’t make you a bad mom, it makes you human. We all need a break sometimes, so make sure you find a reasonable way to get yours. Even if that means an extra five minutes in the shower or pretending to have diarrhea so your husband watches the kids for 15 minutes. No judgement.
Acceptance: This is the stage where you find ways to be you again. This is what I do: see friends (the friends who make you laugh at nothing at all, and make you feel fun and funny), plan (it helps me to know when the kids are doing what, so that I know when I have a minute to myself or when they own me), and be grateful (when I feel overwhelmed or beyond exhausted I remind myself why I’m so tired and it all seems worth it). When all else fails, try to see the world through your kid’s eyes. Kids laugh exponentially more than adults, and when sleep isn’t an option, a good laugh is the next best thing. Or Coffee. Or Wine, whatever.