Do you feel tired all the time? Here are smart ways to cope with sleep deprivation and fatigue. A must-read for parents who feel exhausted!
In the many years I’ve been a parent, I’ve had my share of tired days.
When you’re yawning your sleepiness away, or feel that tingle in your eyes because they want to shut themselves.
Take, for instance, the glorious weeks after I sleep-trained the twins. No longer bound by their frequent wake ups, I now had the hours after 8pm to myself. But did I set my bedtime to 8:30pm like I used to before they slept through the night? Nope—I pushed bedtime up to 10pm, spoiled that I was for finally having those hours to myself.
Or how about when I stopped pumping for the babies? Gone were the 5:20am wakeup times or the 9:30pm pump-before-bedtime rituals. Did I still sleep by 10pm? Nope—I 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 tidied around the house, I read, I worked. No wonder I felt tired all the time.
How to cope when you’re tired all the time
Your source of tiredness could come from more excusable reasons than mine. Maybe you have a newborn baby (and newborn hours) or are working overtime. Your to-do list never seems to end, and getting sleep gets pushed to the back burner.
Or you’re like me and you’d rather feel tired than forgo other aspects of your life. Even with the kids tucked in bed at a decent hour, you can’t bring yourself to sleep early.
So, what can you do to stop feeling tired all the time and actually get the rest you need?
Take a look at these ideas. They remind us to pay attention when we feel tired—that we can actually do something to relieve it. So, when you’re feeling too tired to even feel tired, consider these remedies:
1. Don’t do anything
Sometimes, when we’re faced with challenges, our first instinct is to do, do, do. We feel like the more we can cross off our list, the quicker we can relax and feel accomplished.
Except you and I know that the list never ends—there’s always something else that could get done. When you feel exhausted, declare a mental health day and decide not to do things. Instead of asking yourself what else you can do, ask yourself what you’ll choose not to do.
Maybe that’s having your partner take the kids to a fun outing so you can have the house to yourself. Perhaps you can leave the house and do something you’ve been meaning to do.
Cross off tasks that clutter your to-do list, whether you’ve done them or not. Find simpler ways to get chores done (or postpone them for a later time). Instead of adding more to your plate, prune whatever is already crowding it in the first place.
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2. Take care of your health
Exercise is a fantastic way to regain your energy. 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 early morning or evening can get you out of your funk, especially with the sun shining down. An impromptu dance session with your kids can break the blahs, especially when you can’t take a nap.
and drink plenty of water. Notice I didn’t say caffeine? Coffee can be a quick fix, but you’ll hit a low and endure its side effects like headaches.
Instead, stay hydrated with water throughout the day, drinking the infamous eight cups. You can even fill a half gallon container in the morning and make sure you empty it by evening.
3. Take a nap
I never took naps even as an adult… that is, until I had kids. Napping became essential to feeling less tired during the day and catching up on sleep.
A brief nap can work wonders. Even if you don’t actually fall asleep, lying down and resting can still help. Perhaps you set aside a few minutes after getting home and before having dinner ready to rest and close your eyes. On weekends, swap with your partner to nap while the other plays with the kids.
4. Take a day off of work
One simple way to dedicate time to yourself is to take a day off of work. You may not be sick or going on vacation, but a day off to tend to yourself can help you reset.
Keep the kids at school, daycare, or with the nanny or au pair and spend time in bed and falling asleep. Try not to use this time to tend to tasks unless they’re important. Instead, set aside this day to rest and relax.
5. Divvy up duties
You’re likely tired from doing everything because you are doing everything. Don’t assume that all parenting duties fall on your shoulders.
Communicate with your partner so he can assume the duties around the household. If you cook dinner, have him wash dishes. He can drop the kids at preschool while you handle pick up. Alternate nights of waking up with the baby.
The more you can let go—including letting him do things his way—the less you’ll have on your plate.
And don’t be a gatekeeper. It’s okay if he doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way you do. (Mine still loads measuring cups with the utensils.) At least it got done.
6. Change your standards
How was your home before you had kids? If you’re like me, it was pretty meticulous, complete with pristine carpets and weekly chore lists checked off dutifully.
These days, I’m happy if we put toys away at the end of the night. Having kids can mean letting go of your usual standards. Your sink might have more dishes in it than usual, and forget about laundry folded in a uniform way (it’s really okay to just stuff it in the drawer!).
7. Let go of the time-suckers
Do you find yourself consumed too much by one activity? Put a cap on activities that can suck you in. It’s so easy to lose a sense of time when you’re involved in something.
Maybe it’s watching television (“Let’s keep watching until the episode finishes”) or reading a book (“Just until the next section break”). Perhaps you lose yourself scrolling through social media.
Be aware of activities that consume a lot of your time, and ask yourself whether you can cap them to a certain time. That way, you don’t deny yourself the activity, but you balance it with other parts of your life.
8. Reconsider your work schedule
Paid work—whether away from home or not—can affect how tired you feel. Maybe you work long hours away at an office, leaving you little time to be at home. Or you reserve the evenings—where you get uninterrupted time—to work from home.
In either case, you likely get work done to the detriment of your sleep. You might be so busy that bedtime isn’t until 1am. Considering that your kids wake up not too long after, no wonder you’re exhausted.
What can you change in your work life to ensure that you get the sleep you need? Perhaps you work a few days from home, eliminating the need to commute. Work an earlier shift so you can leave later in the day. Changes can even be drastic like working part-time—the reduction in income can make up for more time.
If you can’t reduce the hours or change your schedule, how can you make your home life easier?
Maybe that’s hiring help, from childcare during the day to a mother’s helper in the early evening. You can rethink dinner and cook in bulk once a month, reheating the meals every night. Get creative with your work schedule or different ways to get help at home.
9. Go to bed early
Even when my kids were sleeping through the night, I didn’t always go to bed early. I relished my newfound freedom and filled my evenings with activities to do.
That of course, only backfires in the end. The best way to get the sleep you need is to go to bed early. Once you start yawning, you should think about heading to bed soon after.
Even better is if you have a consistent bedtime—let’s say, 9:30pm. That way, your body gets used to the rhythm of the day and knows to wind down for the night around that time.
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 tired, take a break. Your tomorrow-self will thank you for it.
Get more tips:
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- How to Quick Get Through the 12 Month Sleep Regression
- What to Do When Your 2 Year Old Wakes Up at Night for Hours
- Why Your Toddler Is Going Through the 1 Year Old Sleep Regression
- 6 Ways to Resolve Your 2 Year Old’s Sleep Problems
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