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"I feel like, as a family, we're drowning." The reality? Most parents simply can't do it all.

By Melissa Mills
February 24, 2021
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An image of a busy mom and her kids.
Credit: Getty Images.

How do other parents do it all? That's the million-dollar question nearly every parent has asked themselves at least once. But lately, and especially during the pandemic, that overwhelming feeling of not being able to keep up or not having time to cross everything off the growing to-do list is stronger than ever.

Parents everywhere are feeling the weight of their responsibilities—and that's why this toddler mom took to Reddit to vent and get some feedback from other moms and dads.

"I don't understand how other parents do it," u/Pasta_is_only_okay wrote in the Parenting subreddit. "I feel like I am missing something. My husband works a full time job at 40-45 hours a week. I work a full time job but at 35 hours a week. Our daughter, almost 2, goes to daycare 5 days a week. I can barely fit in my 35 hours... often I fall short. I don't have what I consider to be much of any free time in my day—and I feel like, as a family, we're drowning."

Here's a look at this Reddit mom's schedule, which she shared on the thread:

  • 5:30 - 8 a.m.: Wake up, eat breakfast, squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise a couple days a week. That's when it's time to "wake up the kiddo," which includes a few minutes of cuddling, a diaper change, breakfast, getting her dressed (plus brush teeth and hair), pack her up, and "send her out the door with dad by 8:00."
  • 8 - 9 a.m.: "At this point, I should technically be starting my work day at 8:30. I haven't even showered yet," the mom confessed. "So I shower, brush my teeth, etc. Don't even wear make up or style my hair 80% of the time. Maybe get to my desk for 9:00."
  • 9 - 4:30 p.m.: Work all day, taking maybe a 20-minute lunch break.
  • 4:30 - 9:30 p.m.: Daycare pickup (40 minutes round trip), make dinner, family time, bedtime, dishes, pack school lunch for the following day, clean the kitchen, do some laundry.
  • 9:30 - 11 p.m.: "We land on the couch together around 9:30. Watch a half hour of TV, talk for a little bit, get in bed close to 11:00. Start it all over again."

Phew, I'm exhausted just reading that. But am I surprised? Absolutely not. As a working mom with a toddler, I get it. Some days I feel super productive, and other days it feels like there just aren't enough hours and the ball's going to drop somewhere. And sometimes it does. Case in point: I currently have six clean loads of laundry just waiting to be folded. I probably won't get to them until the weekend.

The fact is, this is just reality of being a parent—and especially one of young children. "There's no time in there for errands," the mom on Reddit pointed out. "No time for the unexpected. Not a lot of downtime. We often spend a large portion of the weekend just catching up on all the stuff we couldn't do during the week ... Am I missing something? I know parents who work more hours than us... WAY more hours. I know parents with 2, 3, 4 kids. Do we just suck at this?"

Other Redditors chimed in, reassuring the mom that no, they don't suck at any of this; parenting is hard! Most other moms and dads said that their schedules were about the same and that things might get a little easier as the kids grow. "Honestly that all sounds about right for an almost 2 year old," one comment read. "It was survival mode for years until they become a bit more independent. It will get easier."

And while there may be room for more efficiency—showering at night, planning for a larger meal prep day to get ahead of the week, exercising with your partner or family to kill two birds with one stone—it's most important just to give yourself a little grace. Focus on all that you are accomplishing.

One parent shared words of wisdom that all caretakers can benefit from: "At the end of the day, is everyone alive, healthy, fed, clothed, bathed, and relatively happy? Then you're doing great."

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