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Last child parenting fatigue

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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 14 April 2015 - 02:07 PM

They say the last child gets away with murder. While that sounds a little criminal, let's compromise and say the last child can drive most parents to an overwhelming feeling of parental fatigue.

My eldest child is eleven, and my youngest is four. It’s not the youngest, personally, who’s propelled my desire to lie down and shut the door on parenting. It’s years on the treadmill; same run, different child.

My daughter started kindergarten (pre-school / pre-prep) in February this year. This is my fourth year lining up at the kindergarten door, politely smiling to the other parents, asking how their day was even though I saw them five hours before. It’s my fourth year of signing a child in, of authorising forms that seem completely ridiculous (yes, I allow you to apply sunscreen to my child). It’s my fourth year of putting my name down for cake stall sales and weeding at working bees. Another year of carrying extravagant box-art to the car, calculating when I’ll smuggle it into the recycling.

It’s unpopular to admit, but I’m over it. I’m not over her, I’m over the repetitive drudgery.

Once upon a different lifetime, when I was fresh and new to this whole parenting biz, I oozed enthusiasm. I could talk the legs off those kid-sized chairs. I was involved, keen to help, willing to do regular kinder duty, cut fruit, rake sandpits and organise morning teas with other new mums. I constantly had a baby on my hip and despite juggling nap time, tantrums and assorted stresses that multiple children bring, it was nice to belong, and to have comrades in this crazy game of parenting.

Eleven years later, and I’m raring to jump off the game board.

I’ve participated in “meet and greet” sessions to embrace newbies, and met some fabulous women who I now call close friends. But I have enough friends. The limit has been reached; I can barely keep up with the ones I have. Perhaps I should stick a notice to my forehead: “Sorry, my inbox is full.”

I don’t want to cut any more fruit. I’ve seen the cores of 4,359,736 apples and don’t care to see another one. My four-year-old gets a whole apple in her lunchbox simply because I’m sick of cutting them.

If I have to tong another mystery bag at a sausage sizzle and squirt tomato sauce into a square of white bread, I fear I’ll become vegetarian.

I avoid committees like Sarah Wilson avoids sugar. Pre-children I worked in human resources so I have useful experience to contribute to boards but politics was not my caper when I was paid to do it, let alone in a voluntary capacity. Instead, I nominate my husband for “tech support”. He’s a whizz at restarting computers and pressing singular buttons on printers, watching them burst to life after everyone else has caressed, kicked and sworn at the machines.

Then there’s swimming lessons, sporting teams, play dates and parties. It’s my own fault. I had too many kids and I’ve bled myself dry attempting cheerful small talk through all the kid-centric opportunities. I’ve run out of things to say.

However, my four year old hasn’t. She cornered me the other day with, “You haven’t had a turn working at my kinder.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. She was referring to kinder duty. She’s all over it because that poor child was dragged along to not just kinder duty for her older brothers but reading sessions at school, sports trainings and piano recitals. She’s wondering where the hell her slackarse mother is now it’s her turn at this kinder circus. Fair enough too.

Despite my current state of can’t-be-bothered and my glass-half-empty purge, I shall shake it off (channelling Tay-Tay “shake it off, shake it off”) and do kinder duty for her, just as I have for her brothers. I’ll have courteous chats with the teacher, and (pretend to) happily clag leaves to baking paper and then iron over them for 25 students who call me “Amelia’s mum”.  ‘Cause the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake. I’ll say yes to play dates 'cause the players gonna play, play, play. Okay I’ll shut up with the Taylor Swift references. Are you sensing this whole repetitious lifestyle, (and repetitious music), has fried my brain?

If you’re a new mum and feeling ignored by the older mum/the old hand/the has-been, please know, it’s not you, it’s me. Blame the last child parenting fatigue.

Do you have last child parenting fatigue? How do you get yourself out of the funk and motivated to do it all over again?


Edited by Kylie Orr, 17 April 2015 - 12:00 PM.

#2 Expelliarmus

Posted 14 April 2015 - 03:47 PM

I think I hit parenting fatigue when #1 was six months into preschool.

I'm #6. My mother hit parenting fatigue well before I hit school. By Year 12 I was signing my own permission slips ...

#3 seayork2002

Posted 14 April 2015 - 03:50 PM

I only have the one - so get the first, middle and last child fatigue all rolled into one :)

There is 13 years between my sister and I (my brother was in the middle) - I think mum and I worked out she has a child in school for over 20 years

#4 Expelliarmus

Posted 14 April 2015 - 03:52 PM

1962-1991 was how long my mum has children at school. By the 29th year she no longer cared ...

#5 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 14 April 2015 - 03:56 PM

I imagine it's quite common - I only have 2 - DS 1 was getting far more parental involvement (in everything he did) than ds2 is at the same age. Parents can only do so much - DH was no 6 - if it weren't for a much older sister who pretty much took over his parenting I doubt he would have attended school, and did as well as he did.

#6 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 14 April 2015 - 04:22 PM

My aunt had 8 children aged from newborn to 35.  She maintained that she only brought up the first 3, and then they brought up each other after that.

I have school fatigue with only 2.  But I work full time, so it is often more the guilt that I can't make it to their activities.  Although said activities generally bore me anyway.

I love my children dearly.  But I don't want to do stencilling or potato stamping with them - sorry.   I do thank the Gods that there are other parents/carers who love it!

#7 littlebeans3

Posted 14 April 2015 - 04:43 PM

I'm the last of 6. School days for my mum was from 1975 to 1999.
It wasn't just school fatigue it was everything fatigue.

#8 auldlangsyne

Posted 14 April 2015 - 05:31 PM


Edited by auldlangsyne, 21 January 2016 - 06:04 PM.

#9 Ianthe

Posted 14 April 2015 - 05:48 PM

I think my youngest gets a lot because I don't have to drag younger siblings along. I am pretty assembly/parade/sports day fatigued but I rally for him. In terms of other types of volunteering I am more involved now than I was in the past.

#10 Chicken Penang

Posted 14 April 2015 - 06:08 PM

I am 37 and my mum still has a 21 year old student living at home. She definately has parenting fatigue.

#11 andyk

Posted 14 April 2015 - 09:11 PM

deleted: tmi!

Edited by andyk, 14 April 2015 - 09:15 PM.

#12 princessanarchy

Posted 14 April 2015 - 09:28 PM

My kids are six, five and turning-three. Last year I thought at the kindy teddy bear picnic that 'this is cute, I'm glad I have another kindy next year...but I sure as buggery don't have another two year old left in me'! I've actively worked to enjoy the little guy's toddlerhood a bit more since then. That said, the occasional clucky twinge is far outweighed by the sense of starting to see a thin prick of light at the end of the tunnel.

#13 Farmgal

Posted 14 April 2015 - 09:43 PM

I have twins and no more kids. I feel for you! I only have to do everything once.

I am one of those older yet enthusiastic schools mum who smiles in awe at the mums with kids at primary school for 17 years.

Edited by Farmgal, 14 April 2015 - 09:44 PM.

#14 6lilhillbillies

Posted 14 April 2015 - 11:24 PM

Yeah. Definitely.

At preschool drop off and pickup, I smile wearily at the new school mums. Not because talking to them makes me weary, but after 15 years of broken sleep with six kids, I am permanently tired.

I may have to take Seb to play group because there is a gap between him and his next older sibling. The thought of more play group, cliques and mums who ignore their precious bully boy hitting and pushing other kids, make me want to chew my own arm off.

The friends that I made with my older kids now have all high school kids. The friends I made with my middle kids now have all kids in full time primary.

I don't really fit anywhere and lack the motivation to try. But I smile, and speak cheefully and tonight offered to do the oranges for my fourth child's first ever soccer match this Sunday.  

Now smiling at getting up at seven on Sunday to drive an hour to the match is just too much to ask.  But I'll be there, along with other non morning parents dragged out of bed and suffering parenting fatigue. You'll know us by our large coffee mugs, Panadol in our pocket and tired smiles on our proud faces.

Edited by Dauntless, 14 April 2015 - 11:25 PM.

#15 Mum.of.one

Posted 14 April 2015 - 11:42 PM

As someone who has struggled with secondary infertility since my second child was born nearly 5 years ago I embrace everything I get to do with him as I realise he will (unexpectedly) be my last.
On the other hand I can understand everything you are saying because all of a sudden I have realised that my desire for another child or children is dwindling behind a shroud of not being sure I could be bothered doing all the baby and toddler stuff again and looking forward to moving on.

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