The ‘I’m more tired than you are’ game

There is a game some parents like to play. You may be familiar with it.

It’s called “I’m more tired than you are”.

It goes a little like this. Picture typical family chaos. Maybe the parents are trying to do something as outrageous as sitting on the couch together after dinner. Kids are playing around their feet.

Suddenly, someone has a meltdown, or in some way needs attention.

Parent A hopes against hope that the other parent will deal with it. Mutters: I’m so tired.

Parent B is annoyed at the other parent not dealing with it and deliberately ignores the suggestion that they should be the one to pick up the ball. Sighs: I’m sooooo tired.

Parent A: I’m so tired because I’m at the office all day. I have to deal with clients, manage my staff, handle all my meetings then I come home and make dinner, do the dishes, get the kids off to bed… I never get a break.

Parent B: Well I’m even more tired because I have been at home with these two alllll day and I have been trying to get work done and I had to get them in the bath while you were working late and now it is almost bedtime and I still haven’t even managed to brush my hair and I never get any time to myself.

Parent A: But you don’t have people calling you wanting to talk about work at 8pm so I am obviously more tired than you are.

Parent B: But you get to go to the toilet on your own sometimes so I am clearly the more tired one.

Some version of this conversation plays out at least monthly in our house.

The problem is that it is completely and utterly pointless. We could go back and forth all night but there would be no winner.

Say, for example, that I concede that he is more tired than I am. Or he agrees that breastfeeding all night wipes me out (just saying).  I do not feel any better. I am still very, very tired.

Unfortunately for us, tiredness is not a zero sum game. His tiredness does not take away any of mine, or vice versa.

We just end up annoyed with each other. And even more tired.

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