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Exhaustion Impairs Parenting Abilities

OK, it may seem that I’m stating something kind of obvious here.  Being tired can make you crabby, and crabby people aren’t too fun to hang around.  But really, it bears some attention here.  We can tell when our kids are overly tired, but what about us as parents?  We’re so concerned that our kids not stay up too late, but we often dismiss our own need for good rest.  Let’s talk about this.

First, just take an inventory on how well you think things have been going with your family lately.  Have you felt extra frustrated with the kids lately?  And if so, can recall how good your sleep was the night or two before?  It’s really important to consider your perspective during those times.  Were they having their own issues while you stayed calm and level, or do you recall being emotionally set off?

Certainly, I’m not asking you to dismiss legitimate behavior issues with your kids.  Just wanting you to consider the possibility that you may be somewhat short on patience when you are not getting enough sleep.  This is especially likely in families with two working parents or families with young babies.  A lot to do and not enough time to do it, or not your choice of scheduling with the infant.

I’ve been there all too often.  What do you sacrifice – finishing something you were supposed to finish today or getting enough shut-eye so you aren’t a zombie the next day?  More often than not, I chose to finish the “thing” and lose the sleep.  Not great since I real fan of sleep.  For me, I know that I sometimes push things off and I have to get them done at a later hour than I want to.  Then I get more tired, needing more time in the morning to rev up and it’s even harder for me to get a head start on things.  Doesn’t help that I’m a night person either.  That’s my personal habit to work on, including writing this post right now to make me think about it.

I know that when I’m least equipped to do it, I need to pull more patience from somewhere deep inside to handle the very typical and normal annoyances that happen during a single day.  My kids scrap over something silly and I am more likely to make a federal case out of it.  I know I’m setting myself up like this when I put things off and do things so late.  I need to reassess my use of time during the day so I can get to bed at a decent time and keep things rational.

So what about you?  What do you need to reassess about your life to get better sleep?  Do you need to re-delegate household chores to your children?  Do you need to do a little more planning ahead and less procrastinating?  Do you need to say “No” to a few things so you aren’t overloaded?  Do you need to get to bed early and be less perfectionistic about everything else?  It can be a tough question to answer for yourself.  But it’s worth it to make sure you take care of yourself.  Your kids need he best “you” they can get.  Don’t just think about their bedtime – think about yours too.

Exhaustion Impairs Parenting Abilities

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Exhaustion Impairs Parenting Abilities. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Aug 2009
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