The hidden reasons parents are more tired than you think they are

Publish Date
Wednesday, 6 June 2018, 1:00PM
Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

Here's the deal: I'm really, really tired.

Last night was a bit tough. Much like the approximately 500 nights before that.

My toddler, bless her expensive merino socks, has decided we now wake up pretty much every hour for a while. There's no convincing her otherwise.

But I can't blame last night for the Ikea-sized dark bags I'm carrying under my eyes. In fact, due to my Netflix binge-watching skills and my penchant for good pubs, I've been practising this staying up too late shebang for a while. I'm pretty good at functioning on little sleep.

But as I tried to keep my eyes open on my way into the office this morning, I thought about how easy it is to blame a parent's tiredness on bad sleep when, really, that's only one in a long list of reasons your co-workers who are parents need you to cut them some slack.

Below is a short list of only a few reasons parents you know are so exhausted (so please excuse them when they mess things up or forget to call you back).

Parents haven't slept a full night in years

Of course, sleep deprivation is a big factor in parents' exhaustion levels. The issue is that it's not the result of one or two bad nights: it's the compounding interest of months and years of bad sleep pattern, which doesn't get fixed with a good night's rest or even a good weekend.

Parents don't get any breaks

You know when you have a rough night or a rough day and you promise yourself that you'll go home and maybe have a lie-down or a drink or even go for a walk to take your mind off things? Most parents don't get that. Or at least not without a background soundtrack of kids screaming their names or begging for snacks.

When parents wake up in the morning with a sore throat and a killer headache and feel like staying in bed all day, they still have to force themselves out, do some washing, prepare some kind of healthy meal and act like they're not slowly dying inside.

(This is the bit where you stop reading and go call your parents to apologise. Go, I'll wait.)

Because parents never really get time to recover properly from when they get sick, they go through long periods of being on the verge of getting sick but not quite, and still soldering through school drop-offs, lunchboxes and hours of Peppa Pig.

Parents always thinking about at least 57 things at once

I'm trying to write this piece but I'm also thinking that I can't forget to order my daughter's replacement sippy cup and I need to check she has plenty of warm pyjamas because it's so cold now and my washing doesn't dry fast enough. And what can I make for dinner for her tonight? Is she even getting enough nutrients? I can't believe I can recite the damn

Peck Peck Peck

book entirely off by heart now. Crap, daycare emailed about something, what was that? I've had the Baby Shark song stuck in my head on repeat for the last few months. Will someone get this damn song out of my head?

Parents are always worried

I thought I had worries before and then I had a kid and now I have to admit those idiotic memes are all true and my heart does beat outside my chest and I'm always worrying about her.

As much as your co-workers love their job, let's be honest: their heart is elsewhere. It's at daycare sometimes, or at school, where you wonder what kind of merry hell they're raising that day, or it's at home with their other parent, probably driving them absolutely up the wall. The point is, my heart is not near me and I can't quadruple check she's okay every minute even though that's what I wish I could do. That's pretty exhausting.

Worry is an abnormal state, a heightened state of awareness that is unsustainable for long periods of time. Parents worry a lot and that's a big reason why they need you to go buy them a coffee, please.

(Baaaaaaby shark, tu tu ru ru tu tu ru, Baby shark, tu tu ru ru tu tu ru...)

They have to squeeze in adult time when they really should be asleep

After multiple nights of hourly wake ups, sometimes you really want to send yourself to bed at 8pm when all the kids are in bed. The problem is that, if you do that, you go to bed without having had a normal adult conversation with your partner and zero chance of catching up on each other's days. So you stay up and you talk or you watch some TV together because, even if that's not the height of romance, at least none of you is cleaning up spew off the floor or wrestling with a toddler who will, under no circumstances, accept having a nappy put on.

Right, that just about sums it up, I think. I don't know. This is in no way a complaint so please don't tell me off for complaining because I'm too tired for that crap as well. This is just a justification in case I didn't text you back or didn't meet that deadline. I'm just so, so tired.

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.