Parental exhaustion survival guide

A while ago Roy and I became new parents of twins. Well not quite, we had two newborns in the home but they were kittens.  Rescuing kittens was not something either of us had on our radar but the experience brought back a flood of memories as well as some of the exhaustion we remembered experiencing when our children were little. The kittens were demanding little creatures and had crying for attention down to a fine art. Going through the re-run of night time feeds renewed our compassion for parents who are going through those stages with their children.

We had been married for four years when Ryan was born and then, like steps of stairs, Beth followed two years later and Erin two years after that. Having three children under the age of four brought all our selfishness to the surface we were working in survival mode. We both confessed in later years to hearing a baby cry but faking sleep in the hope that we would not be the one forced out of bed to see to the children. Unfortunately selfishness may help you survive those wakeful nights but it is a marriage killer.

5 tips for dealing with parental exhaustion. Click To Tweet

So how can you deal with exhaustion without falling into some of the traps of survival mode?

  1. Accept offers of help. This was something I was very reluctant to do when the children were little. I felt that accepting help was admitting defeat. When our third child was born I remember going to visit some friends, they took one look at me and sent me back home to sleep while they cared for the children. I walked home alone with tears streaming down my face because I was so relieved that I could have uninterrupted sleep.
  2. Don’t try and do it all. It sounds simple, but for people who have a perfectionist tendency this can be very difficult. Decide together, as a couple, what realistic expectations should be and work together to achieve them. The key word in the last sentence was realistic … just in case you missed it.
  3. Sleep when you can. Having an afternoon nap when the kids are asleep might seem like a luxury you can’t afford but living with a sleep deprived spouse is probably on par with living with a bear. Sleep is a necessity not a luxury.
  4. Have time alone with your spouse. Babysitters are often a problem for couples, it isn’t just a problem finding someone you can trust but on a tight budget it can be difficult to find the money to pay them. If family and friends are willing to help out grab the opportunity and invest time in each other. Avoid talking about the children or problems when you finally have time alone.
  5. Validate and encourage one another. The last thing an exhausted parent wants to hear are words of criticism. Instead of concentrating on the negatives try encouraging your spouse. That doesn’t mean encourage them to do more, rather say thank you for what they have managed to do. If you see a job that hasn’t been done step in and help.

by Lainey Hitchman

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