parent opinion

LEIGH CAMPBELL: To the struggling, exhausted mums, I see you.

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Yes, you, reading this. 

The tired mum. 

Or maybe you’re a dad. 

You’re a parent. A proud parent who adores their kid (or children) so much that it’s actually hard to put the love into words.

You’re also really exhausted. 

You feel like there’s always a million balls in the air, and because you only have two hands, you’re dropping some, or several, constantly.

I know how you feel, because I am you. 

I only have one child. A boy named Alexander. He’s four.

Because I only have one – not two, or three, or four – I feel like I’m not really ‘allowed’ to talk about the juggle, or how overwhelmed or tired I am from the always-on energy that parenting demands.

I could have it ‘worse’. I could have multiple children, and with more kids would come more sickness, more washing, more stress.

But lately I’ve decided to give myself a break. To give myself permission to say that being a mum, even just to one child, is an exhilarating, beautiful, messy, tiring and stressful existence. 

It’s a juggle and a struggle sometimes.

I’m here to tell you something. It’s okay if you feel that way, too, and need a safe space to say it.

Image: Instagram @leighacampbell


It’s not that you don’t love your child with your entire being, or that you wish things were different. It’s about letting it all out – the good, the bad, the hilarious things they say and funny things they do, and the tiring, monotonous days and sleepless nights. All of it. All wrapped up in one messy bundle. 

I promise you, you’re not alone, even though it can feel that way sometimes.

Mamamia recently conducted the Parenting Pain Points study, and if it’s any comfort, we’re all in the same boat. A bit like Noah’s Ark, but with lots of stuffed toy animals strewn all over the living room floor.


The news I found really heartening is that 88 per cent of mums with kids under 5 agree they no longer subscribe to being the perfect parent. The pressure is too much, and what does the ‘perfect parent’ mean, anyway?

Most of us are finding parenting little ones a double-edged sword. The study showed we’re trusting our parental instinct more, but also struggling with mum guilt. 

I resonated with many mums who believe there’s too much conflicting parenting advice out there, but are unsubscribing from trying to be perfect. If it’s conflicting, how can we ever win?

I decided to give myself a break and tell myself I’m doing my best after a chat with a close mum friend. She reminded me that I’d never berate and speak to her the way I speak to myself, so she urged me to be kinder to myself and give myself some grace. It’s the permission I needed to exhale. 

The study also found that being a good parent is important to those of us with kids in this age group. It showed we are conscious of being present for our kids and we worry that the mum they remember is the tired, stressed out, overwhelmed mum who doesn’t have enough time for them, or loses her temper. 

So, this is your permission slip to get takeout. Or have porridge for dinner. Or leave the washing for another day... and sit down. Play with your kids, even if you don't really enjoy playing, like me. It’s amazing what happens when you just play, even just for five minutes. The delight on their little faces makes the never ending to-do list disappear (because let’s face it, it’ll always be there). 


SO. This is your permission to admit it's a juggle, and probably always will be.

You’ll drop balls – sometimes it will be work, other times it will be stuff around the house, and sometimes you might not be the best parent you’d hoped you’d be.

Because you’re human. You’re flawed, just like every other person on this earth, parent or not.

Striving to teach our kids emotional intelligence, and aiming to raise emotionally healthy, respectful, kind little people is a really tough gig, and I don't know one mum who doesn't have that as their overall goal.

Losing your cool from time to time, or having a little cry, or getting drive-thru or giving into screen time doesn't take that away.

You’re doing great, and I hope you know that.

And so am I.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Incorrect use could be harmful.

Feature Image: Instagram/@leighacampbell

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Children's Panadol
Children’s Panadol can provide your child with effective, temporary relief from pain and fever associated with teething, earache, headache, immunisation and cold & flu symptoms. It is gentle on tummies and tough on fevers. Care starts with Panadol. Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Incorrect use could be harmful.