UNITED STATES—Look, I’m not a parent, but I have endured the chaos of watching kids, particularly my nieces and nephews throughout my lifetime. I’ve been deemed the cool uncle who spoils them relentlessly; they know if they can’t get it from their parents they might be able to get it from me. With that being said, I’ve learned a valuable lesson in recent months. Watching children is no easy feat, it’s like a 24/7 job, one that you never get to truly relax from.

How so? There are kids who are more active than others, and my niece who is 14 months is a ball of energy. When I say that it’s a good thing, but it can be damn exhausting. I remember babysitting my youngest niece’s sister, who was a ball of energy, but would constantly take naps throughout the day. You could turn on the TV and play for a while and then she was out for 2-4 hours. That is not the case with my youngest niece. She likes to play, and she loves to play nonstop.

She is no different than any other kid who is inquisitive and curious. They want to explore, they want to know what this is, what that is and so much more. In that process, you have to watch them. They get into something and before you know it a major mess has dawned on the home. My niece might be the one kid out of all my nieces and nephews who refuses sleep, even though she is sleepy. She will whine, cry and just fight you to NOT go to sleep. I really wish I could understand the psychology of children more and get inside their head.

What I have discovered that I know existed a long time ago is kids have a fear of missing out on something. Because of that they will fight going to sleep because they don’t want to miss who is walking in the door, heading the TV, watching the TV, hearing the phone, the list goes on and on and on. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? A kid or kids in general will burn you out; I know get the plight of my siblings and their children. There is a reason they are exhausted, stressed and just wanting 8, 12 or 24 hours if they are lucky to themselves.

That time away from the kids gives them an opportunity to decompress; it allows them to have a moment of silence and peace, and to recharge their battery, which they absolutely need. I mean one kid is a ton of work, but when you throw in two, three or more kids that is another battle America. You’re not just chasing around one kid; you have two or more to keep your eye on.

What I can tell you is there are ways to keep children occupied. Like with my youngest niece, she loves to pretend that she talks on the phone, she loves a wallet or a purse because she loves to pull things from it. My oldest niece if you give her that cell phone or tablet, she won’t bother you at all. Well that is until the battery dies, and if the battery doesn’t she’ll be on it nonstop. As bad as it is, technology has helped keep kids more occupied compared to when I was growing up when that was not an option at all America.

The one thing that I’ve gleaned from watching my nieces and nephews over a lifetime is it prepares you when you become a parent. You have an idea of what to expect, and the likelihood of having those sleepless nights for at least the first 2-3 years after the child is born. For anyone who says watching children is easy, they must have never met my nieces and nephews and you’re lucky.