In the four-and-a-half years I’ve been a parent, I’ve never not felt tired. Seriously. I haven’t gone one day without yawning my sleepiness away. Or feeling that tingle in your eyes because they want to shut themselves so much. Now that all three kids are sleeping through the night, I can’t even blame them for my sleep deprivation. It’s all on me. I’m tired all the time.
Take, for instance, the glorious weeks after my husband and I sleep-trained the twins. No longer bound by their thrice-nightly wake ups, we now had the hours after 8pm to ourselves. But do we set our bedtime to 8:30pm like we used to before they slept through the night? No—we now pushed bedtime up to 10pm, spoiled that we are for finally being able to spend time kid-free.
Or how about when I stopped pumping for the babies? Gone were the 5:20am wake up times or the 9:30pm pump-before-bedtime rituals. Do I still sleep by 10pm? No—I’ve pushed bedtime even further, sometimes as late as 11pm.
(All the night owls can stop laughing now. I’m one of those folks who need a solid eight hours of sleep.)
I didn’t use those extra hours for sleep. I do domestic stuff, I read, I blog. No wonder I’m tired all the time. (Like now. I’m not only tired but sick, too, and should be resting in bed.)
Your source of tiredness could come from more excusable reasons than mine. Maybe you have a newborn (and newborn hours) or are working overtime. Or maybe you’re like me and you’d rather feel tired than forgo other aspects of your life.
Okay, but we’re still tired all the time. So what do we do?
How do we cope when we’re tired all the time?
These ideas remind us that we need to pay attention when we feel tired. That we can actually do something to relieve it, even if temporary. So when you’re feeling too tired to even feel tired, consider these remedies:
Declare a mental health day.
Boycott all kid duties for the entire day (or at least a huge chunk of it) and do whatever you want. Leave the house, or banish your partner and kids to a fun outing so you can have the house to yourself. Clear your mind. Cross off the to-dos clutter your list. Start (or finish) that project you’ve been wanting to. This is your day to reclaim.
Do light exercises.
This seems counter-intuitive at first: Why make yourself even more tired by exercising?
Yes, your muscles ache, but those endorphins your body releases sends you renewed energy. A brisk walk in the middle of the day can send you out of your funk, especially with the sun out in full force.
An impromptu dance session with your kids can break the blahs, especially when you can’t take a nap. Speaking of which…
Or cat nap. Or just lie down, even if you don’t actually fall asleep. I get home and I have a few minutes between having dinner ready and when the nanny has to leave. I use those precious few minutes to lie down on my bed and close my eyes. On weekends, I nap when my twins are sleeping while my husband hangs out with our four-year-old.
Rely on your support system, whether it’s your mom or siblings or friends. At family parties, ask others to watch your kids so you can rest. Invite people over to watch your kids so you can also rest. Even little things count. I dice and prepare food, but I was just too tired the other night. I was in no mood to tear apart a chicken drumstick into baby-sized pieces. Instead I asked our nanny if she can handle it the next day.
Take a day off work.
You may not be sick (or going on a fancy vacation), but take a day off to tend to yourself. Keep the kids in school, day care or with the nanny so you can climb into your still-unmade bed and sleep.
Be still and meditate.
Here’s one where I need to practice what I preach. I’m always on the go, whether doing things around the house or ticking off things to do or write. It feels good being productive, but sometimes that busy-ness comes at a price.
Load up on water.
Notice I didn’t say caffeine? Coffee could be a quick fix, but you’ll hit a low and suffer from its side effects like headaches. Stay hydrated because lack of water can affect your health and fatigue.
Maybe you feel tired from doing everything because you are doing everything. Communicate with your partner so he can assume the duties around the household.
Let go of your standards.
Or consider not doing so much. Before kids, my place was meticulous. Now I’m happy if we put the toys away at the end of the night. And don’t be a gatekeeper. It’s okay if your partner doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way you do. (Mine still loads measuring cups with the utensils… who does that? Oh yeah, my husband.) Fact is, it got done.
Lessen the time-suckers.
Do you find yourself consumed too much by one activity (me: blogging)? Put a cap on activities that can suck you in. It’s so easy to lose a sense of time when you’re really involved in something. Maybe it’s watching television (“Let’s just keep watching until the episode finishes”). Or reading a book (“Just until the next section break”)—two big time-suckers for me.
Reconsider your work schedule.
I know a mom who balances working from home and raising her kids all by herself, to the detriment of her sleep. She reserves the evenings—where she gets uninterrupted time—for her work. Sometimes her bedtime is at 1am. Considering that her kids wake up not too long after that, it’s no wonder she’s tired. Reconsider things in your life that are chronically making you tired.
Don’t make the same mistake the next night—get some sleep.
Monday night I wasn’t able to fall asleep until 11pm. I was dead tired by Tuesday, but did I make up for the lack of sleep that evening? No, I just slept the normal (late) time I do. Come Wednesday I was beyond tired where I felt like I just needed to rest my head on the table to catch my sanity back. Lesson learned: Go to bed early, especially when I have no reason not to.
As moms, we expect feeling tired. It comes with the job, right? We have so many things to do with the limited time we have. It’s easy to sacrifice sleep to get things done or enjoy what few precious minutes we have to ourselves.
Still, chronic fatigue is serious. You never want to get to the point where you’re so sleep-deprived you can hardly function. Where you don’t enjoy the moments, but rather drag yourself until you can finally crash and sleep.
When you feel insanely tired, take a break. Your tomorrow-self will thank you for it.
Check out these related posts:
- How to Change Bad Habits Effectively
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- How I Failed as a Mom… and Why It Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought
- Do You and Your Partner Share Parenting Duties?
- First Day Back after Maternity Leave — Does It Get Better?
Tell me in the comments: How do you cope with feeling tired all the time? What makes you the most tired?
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