Lazy Man Asleep on Couch

Our Story Begins:
The Parental State of Exhaustion


A couple weeks ago I wrote what I assumed was a humorous piece about how you’d have to be certifiable to be a single parent.  Or a parent at all, for that matter.

Oh how prescient I seemed to have been.


From my post a couple weeks ago: Our Story Begins: Certifiable:

People tell you all the time “you look tired!” You resist the compulsion to punch them in the nose and exclaim “tired?! I would give my right arm to be tired you *%^&$#!   I passed tired, took a left at exhaustion and hit catatonic about a year ago!

This was meant to be humorous, even talking about how, at the point of being catatonic, you no longer ruin the laundry because you are working from muscle memory.  I thought it was funny, many of you may not have thought so.  But still . . . I had no idea how true my words could have been.

This week the Centers for Disease Control released a study: Sleep Duration, Quality of Sleep, and Use of Sleep Medication by Sex and Family Type.  I know, I know, a real eye-opening title, grabs you with the headline, right?

Here’s what it really found: overall, single parents with kids under the age of 18 in the home were more likely to get less sleep than two-parent families.


I’m not bringing this up to make you feel bad for me.  If anything, I wonder why the money was spent to find out that: yes, single parents get less than seven hours of sleep on average a week (7 if you’re lucky) and that yes, they’re exhausted a lot of the time.  Yes, sometimes you take medication (or have a glass(es) of wine or beer) before bed.  Yes, you work in the morning with your kids.  Yes, you work all day for 8, 9, 10, 12 hours.  Yes . . . you then come home, make dinner, make lunches, get kids showered, sign reading logs, check homework if it needs it and do loads of laundry.

No . . . I hadn’t really thought about how much work that sounds like until I started writing it down just now . . .

Let’s face it, parenting is a lot of work.  There’s simply no doubt to that statement whatsoever.  Even if your wife or husband or significant other or partner or whatever you call them seems to be as useless as a box of rocks they are still able to give you some support.  Hell even moral support is helpful.

Put the word “single” in front of that word “parent” and things get even crazier.  Try to find a way to make that word “single” disappear?  You spend time you don’t have in the company of another person who has the word “single” in front of their word “parent” and you watch the minutes available in your evening just decrease and decrease.

Related: Our Story Begins: Single Dad, So Little Time

So why do I bring this up?

To start the conversation.

It’s not life or death here, no, but think about any parent.  The couple with a newborn; the single dad who is racing to get his kid throwing up at the school; the mom who is trying to work and have a home life, too.  None of these people get enough sleep.  It’s not a contest, nor do I make too much light of it without realizing that it does affect you.  Do you work with a single parent?  Do you have employees who are?  Do you understand what exactly it is that they go through every single day?  I’ve been lucky but I know a lot of others have not.

But in the end we all do it for one reason: we like spending time with our kids.  It’s really that simple.  Sometimes it’s because we have to, we love them, we care for them, and they have tried our last nerve to the point we want to beat our heads against a wall.  But we still do it.  We don’t have to like them to love them.

Sometimes that point in the evening where you have the house to yourself, catatonic from the lack of sleep, is so totally worth it . . . and you stay up anyway.  Because you can.  Then you go to bed, get up , and do it all over again.

What about you?  Do you get enough sleep?  If you have a partner, do they help enough?