That final hour of the day parenting solo is exhausting

Sometimes I’m not sure I can make it—but I always do.

That final hour of the day parenting solo is exhausting

I thought I wasn’t going to make it through that final hour before you got home from work. The day had gone okay. Or maybe it hadn’t. Maybe it was a day without naps. A day without any real accomplishments at all. Maybe it was a day of tried patience and ear-splitting tantrums and struggling to “positively parent” when all I really wanted to do was hide under the covers until you got home.

Or maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe it was a good day, but a tiring day nonetheless. A day of being endlessly needed and meeting work deadlines and cooking lunches and dinners and giving baths and constant clock checking to see just how far off bedtime was.


Regardless, that final hour tests me.

In my mind, that hour stretches into days that I have left to wait for you to get home and help me. I feel like I’m holding us all in my arms, and I’m not sure I have the strength to make it until you turn that door knob and come home to us.

The trouble is, we’ve done what we need to do. We’ve played and we’ve sang and we’ve danced. We’ve gone to gymnastics or the park or a friend’s house. We’ve eaten and been wiped and bathed and brushed teeth. And now...we wait.

The moment I look at the clock and see it so clearly—one hour until you’re home—it sometimes settles like a weight on my shoulders.

It says, “Now what, mama?”

It’s the moment my daughter remembers all the toys we’ve already cleaned up and crafts we’ve put away. It’s the moment she regrets not eating all her dinner and asks for a snack. It’s the moment she wants and whines. It’s the moment she asks for you.

I second that request, by the way. The “witching hour” has begun—for both of us—and we need you home (and know you want to be here with us too).

We read four books and I’m dismayed to see that only 15 minutes have gone by. Et tu, Goodnight, Moon? I try to turn cutting her fingernails into a project. At least her thrashing and fighting me off takes up another five minutes.

I choose her least messy toys to play with and hope she won’t remember the Play-Doh in the kitchen. (Of course, she does, and that stand-off takes another 10 minutes.) I’m trying to muster up the creative energy to match her seemingly endless supply, but I’m spent. I need the break I can almost taste, just minutes away.

I know that this hour can’t stretch on forever. I know that, eventually, you will walk through that door, the returning hero for us both. In a minute, you will become our daughter’s whole world, and my day of providing for her every need will be forgotten. It should bother me, but truthfully, I’m just waiting for that moment too.

When you come home, I can spend 20 minutes on the couch lazily scrolling through Pinterest while you put our daughter to bed. I can close my eyes and truly rest for the first time all day, confident that you have the parenting reigns under control.

But for now, still half an hour from your valiant return, I’m not sure I’ll make it.

It’s sometimes funny the moments that show us our mama mettle, what we’re capable of. Our ability to dip into those deep wells of endurance and grit and find a way through. Because even though I always think I won’t be able to make it that last hour, I always do.

I dig into that deeper place of mama resilience, proving to myself that I’ve got this, even when it feels like I couldn’t possibly. It’s those moments I try to be kind to myself, remembering that I’m doing this, even the hard parts—and I think I’m even doing a pretty good job.

I find ways to enjoy our last hour together, just us. To sneak a few more cuddles on the couch, even better with this freshly washed baby. To whisper secrets and discuss our day, even if it didn’t all go as planned.

I know these moments won’t last forever. One day, she’ll share secrets with someone else and roll her eyes when I ask for snuggles. One day, the days won’t drain me like they do now, as she grows up and needs me less. So I remember to relish these quiet moments only we share—for now.

In that last hour, we test each other, and sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. But we always make it through.

And suddenly you are home, and I’ve bested that hour again. I hope you can tell by our faces how much we’ve missed you and how happy we are that you’re home (though probably for different reasons!).

I’m so grateful for the way you swoop in, tired from your own day of work, but still willing to immediately help, already shifted into “dad” mode as you swoop our little girl upstairs to start the bedtime routine while I—finally!—rest on the couch.

Tomorrow will have another final hour to challenge me. But these moments? These make them all worthwhile.

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

Keep reading Show less