I have said this in real life to four people this week, so it's making me think it's something I need to say here: You turn normal again when your youngest one is 5.
I have no idea why 5 years old is the magical age. I did not believe it myself when a former boss told me that "everything gets OK again" when your youngest one turns 5. At the time, my younger one (who is veeeeery intense--not highly-spirited but some different variety of human anyway) was 2, and I could not imagine a time when he would not be sucking a ton of energy from me.
But I noticed a huge switch in the two months after he turned 5. I've talked about it with his dad, who noticed the same thing. It relaly is lke having two people now instead of children who need to have everything done for them.
In conversation with other parents of kids who've just turned 5 it seems to hold true for most of them. It's an energy shift that happens, similar to that energy shift you probably noticed when your child went from a baby to a toddler, only this one seems to be less work somehow.
And the end result is that your child is far more competent and masterful, and you notice more energy and emotional space.
Has anyone else noticed this and want to confirm it? Is there anyone who is in the Red Zone with little little kids who need to talk about that lack of emotional energy?
I think it's often easy to focus on how physically tired we are (even when our kids are techincally sleeping through the night) that we forget about the toll the constant on-dutiness takes on us.