I’m exhausted! How do you avoid exhaustion in parenting? When I’m tired, I tend to give into my children, but I know I should have firm boundaries.
If you are a parent or teacher, you can relate to Stephanie’s post in the ABCJesusLovesMe Facebook Group. When the kids are little, physical exhaustion develops just trying to keep them fed, bathed, and safe. When the kids are older, it is the mental and emotional exhaustion of guiding them to make wise decisions.
How does a parent thrive when exhaustion is the norm and he or she is simply trying to survive? In the newest podcast, Melanie and I have found ten specific areas of our lives that trigger our exhaustion. Points we have learned to avoid in order to experience the greatest joy in parenting. Which ones listed below are the biggest triggers for you?
▼ Jump to Listen to Podcast Episode #16: How to Parent When You are Exhausted ▼
Be sure to evaluate everyone’s sleep routines. Especially when my children were little, I discovered that things frequently went amuck when everyone wasn’t sleep well – whether during naps or bedtime. Lack of sleep is my #1 trigger of physical exhaustion.
Not Using My Parenting Toolbox
Exhaustion occurs when instead of using wise parenting strategies I revert to idle threats, barking orders, and frequently reminding my children instead of expecting first-time obedience. This behavior is exhausting for the parent as it takes more energy in the long run to do “lazy parenting.” I also find that my emotions more easily turn to anger! Not using my parenting toolbox is my #1 trigger of mental exhaustion.
How easy it is to parent with a bad attitude. Typically, this is rooted in lies that we are believing about our situations. I’m mad at God because He didn’t give me “easy” children. I’m mad at God because my husband doesn’t help around the home like my friend’s spouse. This anger (often misplaced) turns into bitterness, and harboring bitterness is exhausting. I invite you to take a moment to pray about your attitude and evaluate the root of this situation. I did and God showed up in a huge way.
Oh, how easy it is to take out on our children the emotional weight we are feeling toward our spouse, our boss, the coordinator at church…the list goes on. While it can be difficult, we much separate our feelings toward other people and our children. I have found that the best way to do this is to acknowledge where my frustration or anger lies. To whom am I upset? Why am I upset? In prayer and journaling to name that person. This helps me separate the innocent people from the emotions.
This is when the guilt and the shame won’t go away. You are upset with something going on in your heart which causes projected emotions on your children. Melanie shares a personal example of this on the podcast.
Different work schedules for you or your husband require good routines in place to keep from parenting out of the deficit. This especially occurs when hours are long or different than the 8-5 expectation. Is this a season or something that needs to be acknowledges as the new norm? A paper calendar and conversation can greatly help in this area.
Continually saying “yes” to activities is exhausting and doesn’t allow for any refueling. Learning to say “no” to the good allows energy for what is best. And, it is so important to remember to focus on what is best for the family as a whole, not just one person. Right now, this is a huge trigger in my life. My husband and I are in frequent conversation and prayer about our overcommitted summer.
Poor Self-care Choices
Of course, we are talking about eating well, exercise, and everything else that goes along with self-care. But beyond that we need to take time to Sabbath. Rest is so important! But one line of caution, rest is not escaping from what God calls us to do. We don’t “______” so that we can escape from the realities of life. Instead, breaks are to refuel and refocus. If you find yourself “living” for or feeling like you “deserve” a break, reevaluate your attitude toward where God has placed you. You may be surprised how living for “escapes” is actually causing greater exhaustion.
Parenting in My Own Strength
God has a specific path for our parenting journey. But to stay on this path, we must cling to His way of parenting – not our own. We cannot parent using fear, manipulation, anger, or busyness to try and raise “good” kids. We must be on the path God has set before us. No, godly parenting will not be easy, but He will give us the strength we need as we plug in to His direction. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Is it Time for Professional Help?
There is a time when professional help is needed. And admitting this is a beautiful place to be. Give yourself grace to get the guidance you need. Whether that means talking with a wise, older friend, a counselor, or a doctor, there is no shame in seeking professional help so that you can be the best you can be.
The Scriptures promise us a flourishing and abundant life. That isn’t a life without hard work. That isn’t a life without being tired. But if you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, take some time to look at these above topics. And if you need additional help, we invite you to brainstorm with others in the private Parenting to Impress Facebook Group because God deeply desire us to parent in joy.