Why Parenting Teenagers Wears Me the Heck Out

The Physical and Mental Load is Real

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: Why Parenting Teenagers Wears Me the Heck Out

Written By Katy M. Clark

Oh, how I recall those sleepless nights when my kids were newborns. Then, those endless sleepless nights somehow morphed into long days carrying chunky toddlers who were cranky one minute from teething and bounding with energy the next. Then, in a blink, I found myself desperately trying to keep pace with my precocious preschoolers who seemed hell-bent on challenging me at every turn.

Yup, parenting little ones wore me out. 

Fortunately, as my kids grew out of the baby and toddler stage and entered elementary school, I had a bit of a reprieve. Still, they kept me moving with endless birthday parties and after-school activities like sports, scouts, and art classes. I even recall a six-month stint playing goalie in our backyard so they could practice their soccer skills. 

So, it was with great anticipation that I envisioned a serious rest when my kids reached their teen years. 

After all, my kids weren’t helpless anymore. They were far more independent. They could do everything from feeding themselves and dressing themselves to making their own plans (yay, no more scheduling playdates!) and doing their homework (for the most part) without my help.

Welp, I was wrong!

Honestly, there are countless ways that guiding my teens on their path to adulthood completely and fully exhaust me – both physically and mentally.

Why Parenting Teenagers Wears Me the Heck Out


The Mental Load is Real

Raising teenagers is far more mentally exhausting than I ever could have imagined. It can be so hard just keeping up with their mood swings, emotions and those occasional drama-filled days. Just making sure they’re healthy – both mentally and physically – can drain your energy bucket dry.

And their requests, too, (okay, whining) like the trendiest shoes, phones, or a cool new gadget they just have to have. Not only do they want things (more expensive things, of course), but my teens are smarter, savvier, and way more persistent about begging me than when they were little. Sometimes I feel like I’m a lawyer arguing for the defense!

On the “heavier” side, it’s the constant worry when they pull out of the driveway. Will they drive safe? What about the drivers around them? How about when they ride with their friends? I have a permanent crease wedged on my forehead. Forget sleep, too, as I lie awake in bed waiting for the sound of the garage door when I can finally rest easy knowing they’re back home safe and sound.

And let’s talk about how exhausting it can be teaching them how to drive. My hand hurts from white-knuckling the passenger door and I’m pretty sure I’ve worn out my jaw from all the clenching, not to mention the fact that my right foot and calf muscle are perpetually tired from pushing the non-existent brake pedal on the passenger side of the car.

And, the worry doesn’t stop there… will they throw caution to the wind? Will they be faced with peer pressure and cave in? Am I helping to prepare them for college and their future? Are they really okay? Do they have friends? Why are they spending so much time in their bedroom? Why aren’t they talking more? Oh, wait… maybe because they’re tired, too.

The Sheer Physical Demands

Who would have ever thought I’d take way more than ten thousand steps a day as a mom of teens.

There are the endless trips to the grocery store and the steps I take behind the shopping cart loading it with more (and heavier) groceries that my teenage son will ultimately consume in just a few days. There are the steps I take trudging behind my teens as they cruise the stores at the mall.

I’m always burning calories trotting to their events, too. Whether it’s a tournament, early morning ride to a workout, taking them to or from college, attending a concert in the school auditorium, or claiming a seat at their game, which always seems to include lugging snacks, water, and a chair or blanket, depending on the activity and weather.

Then you can find me pacing the sidelines, jumping up and down when my teen’s team scores a goal, or standing and clapping during an ovation at a concert or school function. I wear myself out physically, but I also wear out my voice cheering, not to mention my heart as it bursts with pride over something amazing my teens did on the court or stage. 

Let’s also not forget, too, the late nights sitting in a dark car (with toothpicks holding my eyes open because I’m so blasted tired) waiting for my teen to finally come out so I can go home and literally collapse into bed.

Then, There’s the Housework…

They say your home should be your sanctuary, but as the mother of teens, sometimes it feels more like an exercise class. I love my teens, I do… but sometimes, they’re well… slobs.

Who needs to go to the gym when you make countless trips up and down the stairs to bring everything they left downstairs upstairs? And who could imagine the amount of reaching and bending I do to pick up all the cups, plates, bowls, and silverware they left on their desk and nightstand?

And what about the countless times I cave in and scoop up that wad of clothes that hasn’t moved from the corner of their room for over a week (even though I promised myself I’d back off and let them do it themselves)?

I’m the one taking items like the new package of toilet paper upstairs that I left on the landing hoping my teens would do it first. I’m the one putting the mountains of groceries away, cooking the meals, cleaning toilets, and cleaning the kitchen… day in and day out. Sure, my teens pitch in occasionally (and I’m grateful for that), but if we’re being completely honest here, I’m the captain of this ship we call home, hustling to keep them fed, clothed and alive. Phew – it’s no wonder I’m exhausted!

The Best Kind of Tired

Parenting teens might wear us the heck out, but it’s also brimming with a really good kind of tiredness. I feel a sense of contentment knowing I’ve wholeheartedly loved and cared for my teens the absolute best I can.

And even though I oftentimes can’t get up off the couch at the end of the day due to the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of the day-to-day rigor of raising my kids to be good human beings, I find myself resting in the comfort of knowing that I’m preparing them for the real world, that I’m teaching them well and I’m pouring all the love I have into their hearts and minds.

Yup, parenting teens might wear us the heck out, but loving them, having a front-row seat in their lives, and seeing the amazing fruits of our labor (eventually) come to fruition, makes it all so very worth it.

About Katy M. Clark:

Katy is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

If you enjoyed, “Why Parenting Teenagers Wears Me the Heck Out,” you might also enjoy reading these posts, too!

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