Dear First-time Parents-to-be,
You know those annoying jokes we make about being “tired” when the baby comes? The ones that have us sniggering enigmatically and hi-fiving other smug parents. We’re not laughing because your baby is going to keep you up all night. That’s nothing. We can do that standing on our heads. We’re laughing because you’ve got absolutely no idea what tired really means, and you’ll soon discover that sleep deprivation is just the tip of a very large iceberg of chronic exhaustion; one which you will smash into Every. Single. Day for the foreseeable future.
Tired Parents Everywhere.
Here are the nine types of fatigue that no one tells you about before becoming a parent. They will be your constant companion for many years to come. Enjoy!
1: Emotional Fatigue
Being a parent is an emotional rollercoaster (with added vomit). There are ecstatic highs, demoralising lows and everything in between. As your baby grows into a toddler you will find yourself locked in a daily battle of wits with a tiny dynamo who has no impulse control, sense of logic or emotional stability. Life becomes a constant state of terse negotiation, where the choice between a blue shirt or a green shirt can spiral into a thirty minute tantrum. And it gets even more emotionally draining as they get older. Time to organise that wine subscription from Greys Online.
2: Physical Fatigue
You’ll soon realise that pregnancy is just a light warm-up and that parenting is the real marathon. Children require constant exertion: picking them up, wrestling with toddlers, rocking babies to sleep, chasing them around the park, cleaning up constant mess. You will eyeball your sofa like it’s the smooth-talking lover of your wildest fantasies, but when you finally manage to sit down they will scramble to scale your slumped form like it’s the newest piece of play equipment at the park. It will be years before you can sit down without being touched. Or sat on. Or grabbed.
3: Micromanagement Fatigue
Being a parent is kind of like being an anally-retentive employer: with the exception of breathing and soiling themselves small children are mostly incapable of doing anything. You have to anticipate all of their needs, and then you have to perform every basic task for them: feeding, changing nappies, blowing noses, brushing teeth, wiping bums, drying tears. I still need to micromanage my five year old for simple tasks like getting dressed, or I will find him jumping on the bed wearing nothing but Spiderman undies on his head when I walk past his room thirty minutes later.
4: Vigilance Fatigue
Small children are consummate experts at putting their life in danger, so parents have to maintain a constant state of hyper-vigilance for years. Everything is a potential hazard and the smallest lapse in supervision can turn serious. If they’re not rolling off change tables or running in front of cars they are climbing the furniture, swallowing items that can choke them or sticking pointy things in the nearest available hole; mostly eyes, ears or electrical sockets. Eternal vigilance is the only thing that stands between your child and the emergency room.