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This is for all the overextended parents out there

Katie Zapfel

Tuesday morning, 5:30 a.m.

“Mommy… mommy…” you can hear the whispers. As you pry your groggy eyes open(ish) through the ridiculously early morning darkness, you make out what appears to be your 3-year-old pleading for some grapes… peeeeeeez. You stumble your way to the kitchen, tripping over a scattering of Tonka trucks and those stupid Squinkies strewn about the hallway like little booby traps just waiting to wake up the rest of the slumbering house. With 3-year-old in tow, you arrive at the kitchen, flip on the painfully bright light and fumble through the cabinets for a bowl.

5:35 a.m. First tantrum ensues.

You picked the bowl with firetrucks, not dump trucks.

At this point, your 2-year-old comes toddling into the kitchen because he of course doesn’t want to miss out on the commotion. Now, you need two bowls of grapes. Coming right up, boys.

In an effort to slip back under the sheets for a few glorious seconds of extended shut-eye, you tuck them into the couch — with two separate blankies because they’ll fight if they have to share — and you pick out a delightful episode of Calliou for them to enjoy.

6:16 a.m. Second tantrum ensues.

They don’t want Calliou. They want you to build them a fort.

You throw together a hot mess of blankets and pillows, surrender the fantasy of going back to bed, and hop in the shower so that you can get ready for a full day of deadlines at the office and maybe later squeezing some freelance work in. That’s of course after you get the kids fed, bathed and tucked back into bed before doing it all again the next day.

End scene.

These are actual situations that play out in my home and thousands of others every day across the globe.

Let’s face it, my friends. We are overextended.

Work, school, dance recitals, business trips, bake sales, t-ball games, homework, housework… you know the grind.

With so many demands piled on us each and every day, that whole cloning thing doesn’t sound nearly as creepy as it used to. So what if mine came out with a second head? I could use the extra brain cells after those college years.

So how do we find a little relief?

Unfortunately, I have no solution. Not a single one. But I’ll offer this, and maybe some of you will relate.

To my fellow moms, dads and everyone else feeling stretched too thin in a million different directions, let’s take a step outside of our chaotic lives for a moment and ask ourselves this:

What advice would you give a friend feeling the same way you are feeling right now?

Would you tell her to go ahead, let yourself wander aimlessly through the overly scented aisles of Sephora, only to walk out with a $28 tube of what is essentially hot pink chapstick? It’s OK, treat yourself!

Would you tell him to book that 3-day boy’s weekend four states from home? (Little hint here, guys: If you have a significant other, just be sure to be extra helpful around the house before scheduling this one.)

Would you tell her to log off that damn work laptop, power down the wretched iPhone, and lay on your face for 60 minutes so some perfectly primped Aveda massage specialist can take a hammer to all those stress-induced knots in your neck, while blowing lavender bamboo oil essence all up in your nostrils? Zen!

Whatever it is that you would say to help that friend, say it to yourself. Why is it so easy for us to give each other a break, but so stupidly hard for us to allow ourselves the same kindness?

Well I say, let’s stop it. Just stop. Give yourself a break. Relax, read, run or plop your ass on the couch and watch that Roseanne marathon. Whatever it is your body is telling you it needs, take care of it like you take care of all the other demands in your life.

Let’s stop taking on the world, when the world is just too heavy for one hand to hold.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some essential oils to huff.

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