The Parental Energy Chart

It seems as if your children are at their most energetic when you’re at your least.

The graph below proves just that: Parental energy and a child’s needs are most frequently at odds with each other. I think it’s nature’s way of encouraging kids to learn to play by themselves.

• As you can see, nighttime is easy because both energy and need are at zero. But notice the spike that occurs at 5AM.  Generally there is some sort of waking during this hour, which requires a bit of attention at a time when parental energy has flatlined.

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• At 7AM, need is at one hundred. During this hour, the parent is awake, but has yet to imbibe any caffeine. This is a difficult sixty minutes.

• By 8AM, need has dropped slightly, and now, having slugged back some coffee, the parent has plenty of energy. Meanwhile, the child may have wandered off to play by himself, only calling for his mother every five minutes or so to help him find something. Usually this time is spent doing dishes or answering emails.

• By 11AM, the parent is feeling pretty good, but when lunch comes around, energy starts to dip, and falls consistently for the next two hours. During this stretch, a three-year-old child is struggling with fatigue as well, but instead of napping, he insists on having a rave, or riding the parent like a horse throughout the house. This energy peaks at 2PM. when the parent is trying desperately just to keep her eyes open. This is a good hour to invent a game that involves lying down. “Put stuff on top of Mommy” is a good one. It’s possible to lose consciousness, either because you’ve fallen asleep or suffocated under the weight of a giant stuffed bear.

• This brief rest generally results in a resurgence of energy, but the child has gotten through his difficult hours and now wanders off to remove all the sheets from the bed, or build a tower with cans of cat food. Now is a good time to make dinner. Once everyone is seated at the table, the children suddenly appear to have just freebased methamphetamine. The parent, on the other hand, is exhausted and ready to go home to a nice tumbler of scotch, but realizes she already is home and weeps softly on the inside.

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• 6PM until bedtime is complete chaos. At 7:15 or so, a child might be seen chasing his parent through the house while wielding a flashlight and screaming something about batteries. From 7PM to 8PM, the only real option is to have a glass of wine (a big one). This, of course, causes you to fall asleep at 9PM. and when that 5AM. waking occurs, the parent realizes the harsh reality that she only gets an hour off per day.

About the writer


Jason is a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, and Psychology Today. His book, This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists  is available in bookstores everywhere. Look for two more books from him in 2015: “Must. Push. Buttons.” (Bloomsbury Kids), and a memoir,  entitled, “Rock, Meet Window: a Story of a Father and a Son” (Chronicle Books) He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons and enjoys making them laugh more than anyone else.

From Around the Web


Jaye Marsh 6 months ago

In addition to the above, I might add that as a Mum of two bright energetic boys under 6, this is very very very real and NO it’s NOT my thyroid!! (I checked)

You either don’t have children or yours are compliant or fembots.

I might shift the chart a bit to add arsenic hour from 5-6pm. Honestly….I clocked the decibel level at 115….the end of my piccolo right in front of the timpani read 110…I have capital in ear plugs

Heather Krueger 1 year ago

Ugh isnt that the truth

Katy Evans McPherson 1 year ago

LMAO! So true!

Suzette 1 year ago

As the mother of a 3 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old, I agree very much with the chart. It sounds a lot like my day. But you have to add in 3-5 night wakings in which the kids NEED attention. :)

Dani 1 year ago

There’s a name for places where artistic licence in the name of humour is discouraged. It’s called news sites. Please feel free to check them out if you require strict adherence to the truth at all times – though I fear you’ll also be disappointed there, as they’re inclined to play fast and easy with truth for somewhat more sinister reasons than making people laugh.

Jemma Noonan 1 year ago

I’m lying here thinking ‘5am need? Not in our hou….oh now wait it’s 4, and here I am reading cause I can’t get back to sleep!’ Excellent graph.

Bryna Darling 1 year ago

Wow….I used to refer to that dinner period as “hell hour”.

Yas Reid 1 year ago

That about sums it up nicely

Stacie Hagan 1 year ago

Tanya Santin -love the genuine real deal talk- so over the “perfect mommy” bs -Take me back to the 70’s for crying out loud!!!

MyLove M. Barnett 1 year ago

I had all those run too. I was seriously expecting them to find SOMETHING, but all my hormone levels were fine and my thyroid was fine, too. But she said I had a severe vitamin D deficiency, and said that a lot of people now do, and prescribed a vitamin supplement to help correct it. I haven’t noticed a difference in my energy levels yet, but I have noticed that the gobs of hair left over from the shower has gotten smaller and smaller.

Annie Olczak 1 year ago

That’s scarry

Chrissi Jenkins 1 year ago

My heavens, this is my life!

Kristin Hicks 1 year ago

I can’t stop laughing at the freebasing comment!

Corey Burrell DeLuca 1 year ago

I can relate…2:00 in the afternoon is the hardest for me!

Maia Cartechine 1 year ago

My coffee to child ratio is much higher lol.

Kimberly Dipaolo-Joniec 1 year ago

Would be entirely accurate if the child’s need line extended to about 10:30 or so, p.m.

Jessica Hamner 1 year ago

This is a great book to read!

Cynthia Middlestadt 1 year ago

Yes it can be that hard Stefany Robert. I am a mom of a 3 year old and 16 month old. I stayed home full time for over a year when my youngest was born bc she had significant health issues. So staying up doing meds, therapies and numerous other things is exhausting. Even without those issues it’s exhausting when you have no help from family, no me time or date nights. Just part of being a parent.

Catie Macdonald-Mudge 1 year ago

The best part of this whole this is as I’m trying to read it my 4 year old is following me with a flashlight repeatedly asking about new batteries for it.

Heather Ruud 1 year ago

That whole kid need 0% line all night is bunk. Feedings, nightmares, puking, peed the bed anyone?

Shari Wippert 1 year ago

To the above commentor who said anyone who feels like this needs to change their diet and get thyroid and adrenals checked, I’m one of those people who can identify with this article and I have had multiple blood tests and most recently an ultrasound to see if my exhaustion has a cause, all have come back normal. I eat well and as a pescetarian I don’t indulge in alot of junk food. It is just apparently the way I am.

Megan Peuramaki 1 year ago

Well aren’t you little miss perfect, Stefany.

Crystal Dawn Jones 1 year ago

As a stay at home(schooling) mom of three kids 8, 6 and 2 with a husband who works out of state and only home on the weekends I can tell you it is that hard on a daily basis.

Lindsey Cypert 1 year ago

Until I tried PLEXUS love my pink drink

Stefany Robert 1 year ago

People who really feel like this need to probably change their diets and get their thyroid and adrenals checked. It should t be that hard on a daily basis.

Misty Crystal Marsh 1 year ago

Oh, this is SOO wrong. The black line should be at the bottom the whole time and the blut one at 100% the whole time!


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