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HomeBlogMommy DazeThe 7 Stages of Parenthood Exhaustion — Mommy Daze

The 7 Stages of Parenthood Exhaustion — Mommy Daze

As parents we have forfeited our right to sleep. Well, at least sleep as we once knew it. One day it’ll find us again, years and years from now, but until then we’re going to be exhausted. Some days more so then others. I’ve noticed a pattern of seven stages that occur during my day as an exhausted parent of young children.

7StagesOfExhaustion 1Stage 1: “Hopeful Denial”
Whether you were up once or 10 times with the kids during the night, there’s always that glimmer of hope in the morning that maybe, somehow, the day won’t be completely ruined by your lack of sleep. For me, it usually occurs over the first cup of coffee around 7:30 a.m. The kids are in tip top shape, despite their small amount of sleep. The sun is up and the day stretches before you with glorious opportunities for the taking!

Stage 2: “Wary Optimism”
Around lunchtime reality starts kicking in. The morning has worn you down like a battered sail in a sea squall, thin and ready to tear. You’re obsessively checking the clock for nap time to arrive. You’ve exhausted your meager supply of creative ideas to keep the ever-energetic children occupied. You stare wistfully at the piles of dirty laundry, dishes and grocery list, then more realistically you stare at your bed. Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope that this afternoon you’ll accomplish something, even if it’s just a 15-minute nap for yourself.

Stage 3: “Angry Delirium”
Nap time isn’t happening. They’re overly tired, the adrenaline is pumping through their little veins and despite your threats to duct tape them to their beds, sleep isn’t coming. You’ve given up all hope of being productive and are now putting all your energy into keeping your unreasonable rage at bay. You’re no longer tired, but furious that you didn’t even get to finish that first cup of coffee from 7:30 a.m. Who do these kids think they are anyway? You’re a fully grown adult, you can drive a car, you can buy a house, yet these tiny creatures are running your life, and that’s unacceptable! You sit with your back to their bedroom door, listening to them tearing apart their room during what is supposed to now just be “quiet time.” You begin to devise a wicked plan, like some sinister villain, to get back at them in their teenage years with embarrassing photos and unexpected visits to school dances. Maybe you even cackle a little. It’s probably around 2:30 p.m. and your hair is starting to look like Cruella de Vil’s.

Stage 4: “Pity Party”
After two hours you give up on nap time, and life as you know it. In a dramatic scene worthy of an award, you declare your frustrations to the cold cup of coffee still sitting on your kitchen counter. There are probably tears. Your children are at your feet, demanding fish-shaped snacks and lollipops. The world is a dark, cruel place.

Stage 5: “Second Wind”
In a burst of genius, you decide to pack the kids into the van and head to the closest drive-thru for a piping hot cup of goodness. You’ve got your grocery list and are ready to salvage the last remnants of this day. Caffeine in hand, you pull into the grocery store parking lot only to find that both kids are passed out asleep in their car seats. Perfect.

Stage 6: “Crazy Person Calm”
After driving back home from the failed grocery store trip, you spend an hour sitting in the driveway with your angelic-looking cherubs asleep behind you, catching up on Facebook feeds and creating Pinterest boards on “Sleep Methods for Toddlers.” You then begin that dreaded 5 p.m. “Witching Hour,” but with a crazy calm attitude. Even the kids are confused. Your sweet husband doesn’t skip a beat as you cheerfully place a bowl of cereal and plate of mini carrots on the table for dinner. You can’t seem to get the “Zippidy Doo Da” song out of your head.

Stage 7: “Crash and Burn”
The kids are finally asleep. Bedtime routine was a blur. Pages were skipped, pajamas put on inside out, and you failed to sing the entire ABC song during teeth brushing, you rebel you. After closing their bedroom door and glancing in at your awaiting bed, you think, “I could totally go to bed at 8 p.m., no shame there.” But instead you celebrate surviving another sleep-deprived day by crashing on the couch, mindlessly watching a show or two or three. There may be some binge eating of gingerbread house candy. Perhaps you even get to have some adult conversation with your husband, in which you talk about mature things like how to teach kids the proper way to blow their nose, or how frustrating it is to watch them try and put a jacket on by themselves.

Next thing you know, it’s 10:30 p.m., your body is refusing to move you from the couch to your bed, but your brain is begging for rest. Somehow sleep finds you, and it’s glorious. Your bed has never felt softer. The long day drifts away — at least until you’re jolted awake by the needs of some small person who earnestly calls you Mommy, confidently knowing that you will meet those needs, over and over again, no matter how tired you may be. Well at least that’s one thing you can check off your list.

Click here to read more Mommy Daze.


Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.

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