Hey, Parents—It's OK Not To Be Your Best Self All of the Time

Parenting may be the greatest job in the world, but it can also leave you feeling drained and cranky. One mom on Reddit got some great advice about how to get through.

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One of the most challenging parts of parenting is how much of yourself is required to do the job. And until you step into the role of caring for a child, particularly a very young child who cannot do much for themselves, it's difficult to explain just how taxing the job can be, both mentally and emotionally.

When a new parent on Reddit sought advice about how lonely, tired, and cranky they feel, it didn't take much time for the compassionate messages of understanding to start filling the thread. Because the reality is this: It's okay to give yourself some grace and know that no parent on the face of the earth can be their absolute best at all times.

"I don't have enough time for friends and family, or even my spouse, and I don't give 100% of myself to work. I don't think about the world beyond myself the way I used to," The original poster (OP), u/Own-Quality-8759 wrote. "I get unconsciously resentful when people make demands on my time and don't help out with my kid in return, even when these people are near and dear ones who have every right to expect me to be there for them."

The OP writes that they have only been parenting for three years (which is a long time and includes a ton of very challenging milestones!), but despite that, they feel like parenting hasn't always been a positive experience.

"People say parenting changes you for the better, and it has in some sense, but it's definitely brought out the worst of me in other ways.

I've only been a parent for three years, though," the OP wrote. "Those of you who are further along, did you find yourself changing for the better again?"

Some Redditors were quick to point out that as lonely as the job can feel, that sentiment is universal and normal.

"Totally normal. You are only 3 years in. You are in the frantic years where life doesn't slow down for a minute. I think life is much different when your kids grow a little more," wrote Redditor u/NotTheJury. "Little people are demanding of time and energy. This is the normal of parents with little ones. As they get older and your world becomes a little less stressed, your whole persona will change."

Redditor u/mydeerwatson added, "Not the OP, but this is very, very reassuring to hear as another parent of a 3-year old who's feeling like a very lazy, rundown person these days."

Other folks gently pointed out that the OP may be experiencing a shift in their need for different boundaries. When you're being pulled in several directions by your kids, it becomes effortless to default to grouchy when anyone else demands your time and energy.

"I'd say what you describe is what I went through, but it was about me learning where my priorities lie and learning to say 'no' to other people and place boundaries and fight for those boundaries to be respected," Redditor u/greentea_tangerine wrote.

And one parent shared a cautionary tale about what could happen if OP doesn't tend to their own needs too.

"I dedicated every single second of every day to caring for my kid, earning a living to support my kid and focusing on all the short and long-term things needed for giving my child the best resources I could to help her reach her highest potential," wrote Redditor u/Humble-Plankton2217.

"It wasn't until my kid was about 16 and started shunning me that I realized that I was also a person with needs. Then I spent the next few years trying to find the me-of-the-before-times. In hindsight I wish I could have been more balanced and taken care of myself and my adult relationships better. I don't know if anyone/anything could have made me see it until I was ready."

And finally, some even offered some practical advice when it comes to time management, which can feel like an impossible task when you have a child.

Redditor u/Some_Handle5617 suggested, "I think it's more about accepting that your time is now more focused on kids and that that will change as they get older. If you want to make more time for friends and family, carve that time out instead of waiting for it to happen. Is that time shorter? Yes. Plan for quality, not quantity, and better shorter than not happening at all."

Parenting comes with plenty of joy, and it can certainly be easy to lose oneself in the tasks of raising little ones, but all of us need to remember that it is always okay to take a deep breath, take a break, and remember that we are whole people with needs and wants too.

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