Theres a difference between exhausted parenting and toxic parenting.
There’s a seemingly infinite number of articles out there citing all the ways you’re screwing up your kids. You’re constantly being fed the lie that everything you do as a parent, is wrong.
What you really need to know is, you are a GOOD parent, and you are exhausted.
if you’ve ever stopped to consider how your parenting will influence your children’s lives, you are NOT hurting your kids! Any parent who takes time to reflect on their parenting style is giving their child MORE love than they realize.
At the heart of parenting, you’re still a person. You make mistakes. Just as your children are learning and growing, so are you.
I think MOST people can identify with exhausted parenting. You’re working, raising kids, maintaining relationships, tending to older family members, running to extracurriculars and still managing day to day tasks like shopping and laundry.
You’re tired. Some days you yell, you’re cranky, and maybe even “mean” or snappy at the people you love. You may not have it in you to be nice. Everyone has their tipping points, it’s completely normal to wear fatigue on your sleeve.
Exhausted parenting means you’re going to scream, cry, and shatter.
It means you’re begging for relief, but asking for help leaves you open for judgement. People are quick to point out your not- enough- ness which leaves you recoiled in your guilt and shame. The idea that mom (and dad) really do need respite is met with scorn and your overwhelm is shamed. Instead of support in your devastation, you hear the intolerant whispers of, ‘what’s wrong with her’?
So you sacrifice your mental health and bury away your needs while you silently struggle inside.
You’ve been running on fumes since your precious babe emerged from your womb and you haven’t stopped since. And you don’t even know, because a 30 minute shower isn’t enough time to allow the truth of your depletion emerge. It’s really only enough to refuel for the next 18 – 20 hours of non- stop parenting.
Because you’re consistently running on low battery, it makes you prone to snapping and yelling. You maybe even “meaner” than you intend to be.
Exhausted parenting means you stare through your kid when they’re asking for one more snack.
It means you’re dragging your ass to the bathroom when their little bums need a wipe.
It means you’re begging them to go find
It means sometimes you’re enthusiasm is lacking when something exciting happens in their world.
It means you release an exasperated “WHAT!” when you’ve heard ‘mom’ for 3 minutes straight.
Yet somehow, you manage to summon the strength inside, to show up.
Even if it’s half of you.
Even with bags under your eyes.
Even if it means sacrificing your needs.
Despite this soul jerking exhaustion, you can begin to see how much you’re doing for your children. You’re always finding a way to be better for your kids, and THAT is true beauty.
Because God FORBID we moms
For the record, it IS okay.
It’s okay to be tired,
It’s okay to not ‘want to deal’ anymore.
It’s okay to get it wrong,
and it’s even MORE okay to praise yourself for getting it right.
And yes, it’s even okay not to love every minute of being a mom. *GASP*
Its okay to be exhausted, mom. You’re not harming your child for it. In fact, they need to see it. They need to know you’re only human. Humans make mistakes, and you are loved for it, deeper for it, and bigger for it. The same way you hold our breath when they spill milk on the brand new sofa,
or feed the dog ice cream,
or put tampons in the damn toilet.
You get frustrated but you also know curiosity is healthy.
There’s this unspoken balance between displaying your frustrations while also assuring them they’re only human too.
Toxic parenting, is not that.
Toxic parenting is;
Abuse, manipulation, disorientation, gaslighting and unrealistic expectations the parent puts on the child. It’s not teaching the child how to survive/ thrive on their own. Toxic parenting is neglect, or tearing your child down with words. A toxic parent will focus only on the child’s mistakes. Toxcity is not empowering the child to explore within age appropriate safety parameters or demanding they hold onto every grievance. It’s commanding unrealistic expectation or berating them until they have no sense of self left.
Toxic parenting is setting the bar so high they never live up. It’s energetic torture because your child never knows how to make the parent happy.
A toxic parent will be sure to let the child know mom (or dads) happiness lies only in the hands of the child’s behavior. And if the child makes a mistake the parent determines as wrong, shameful, or unforgivable the child is punished for it.
Exhausted parenting means your human and a damn good one.
Toxic parenting is emotional, mental or even physical abuse.
Mom, I know you’re afraid you’re screwing up your child but there is a difference between exhausted parenting and toxic parenting, Even though exhaustion doesn’t feel good, it will not damage your child in the long run.
You’re fed this lie that all aspects of parenting is pure bliss, and by not enjoying every second, you’re somehow ruining your kids. The truth is, you’re living in a world where your worth as a parent is undervalued, and the standards are unachievable. And when it feels like you’re not living up, you start to believe exhausted parenting means you’re toxic.
Exhaustion isn’t scarring your kids. You are a good person who shows up every day for the ones you love most. That isn’t harmful, that is courage.
It’s time now, to speak up. Imperfect parenting is beautiful. You need to yell, cry and feel your truth. It’s not that you don’t love your kids, its that you feel overwhelmed by the high demand of being an everything mom in an unforgiving world. How are you supposed to maintain this level of work and not feel the sting of your own depletion?
It’s not supposed to be this way. You are entitled to proper self-care, a bit of alone time, respite, travel, or even a walk in the forest. Missing 3 hours of your children’s lives on a Saturday afternoon to go drive to the beach does not mean you’re abandoning your kids, it means you’re nourishing your spirit.
Yell if you must, you are not harming your child so long as your fire does not tear the village down.
Cry. as much as you need. Let your children see your sorrow.
Grieve, you are grieving as they grow and change, as YOU grow and change.
There are days you need to curl into your sorrow and feel its weight
You must feel safe to do that.
You must be encouraged to do that.
You must be empowered to turn your Mothering into living art.
You must feel the power of your meltdown, for it is the magic wand that waves the path of true change.
And the more you do the things that fill you up, the more room you have for the ones you love. The more you demand balance in self- care, the more joy you find in parenting. Because the moments that suck, you’ll have permission to feel it, and the moments that are good, feel REALLY good… And the more you display compassion for your needs, the easier it is to maintain the balance of what is right for you AND your kids.
You are a strong, capable and caring woman… do NOT allow those around you to convince you your exhaustion is somehow toxic to your family. Your mothering is a gift, you are the answer to their prayers and you must take time to say yes to yourself if you are to continue saying yes to those around you.