Advice for super (tired) mums
Mummy blogger, Sara German, gives us her take on how to keep perspective during periods of exhaustion…
“I feel like I could sleep for three days,” I thought as I crawled out of bed. I was finally taking a vacation day. Instead of a leisurely morning, my son was literally dragging me out of bed at six o’clock in the morning.
I know I am not the first mum to be tired. In fact, I think many of us are constantly behind on sleep and looking for extra energy. Sleep deprivation takes away our ability to reason and perform as the mums that we want to be.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed and overtired, I try to keep the following in mind.
Accept being human
When I became a parent, I knew I wanted to be an active parent that plays with my son and is involved in all aspects of his life. But, there are times when no matter how much I want to, I cannot muster up the additional energy after work to run around the park, dance or play. These are times when work is stressful, when someone in the family is ill or, thinking back, a lot of the time when my son was an infant. I have learned in these times to concentrate on self preservation.
It is okay to feel tired, drained and sometimes grumpy. It does not mean that you are ungrateful for what you have in life. It means that you are giving your life and your child everything that you have. You may not always have the extra energy to do the fun ‘mum’ things that you want to. As long as you do them when you can, your children will accept the times when you cannot.
I thought I was ‘busy’ before I had a child. My evenings included commuting home, possibly going to the gym or a wellness appointment (e.g. chiropractor, massage), followed by dinner, maybe a glass of wine and watching television or reading a book. Looking back, I had no idea what ‘busy’ was back then!
Post-maternity leave, I race home, try to get a healthy dinner on the table, entertain my son, try to fit in a workout, do chores (laundry and dishes never seem to be finished!), bath my son, get him ready for bed and then get ready for the next day.
It took some time to realise that my new schedule was the new normal. Even with giving up most of the activities that I did pre-child, I found I was both mentally and physically exhausted. Once I learned to accept the new schedule, it became easier to strategise and come up with tricks to maximise my productivity (and happiness!).
Try to add in spontaneity
Before I had a child, my schedule was completely driven by my own needs and desires. Now, my schedule is driven by the needs and desires of my child. It is made even more complex if my husband or I add in any of our own commitments.
As a parent, I have focused on building routines into my child’s life to bring him comfort. When I feel frustrated and drained, I try to remember that it is partially because my schedule does not have the flexibility or spontaneity that it used to. I cannot decide to skip dinner or to forgo the usual bedtime routine because someone else depends on me.
Instead of becoming bored with the structure, I try to concentrate on the time that I do have control over – whether it is the few minutes in the shower, my lunch break, or workout. If I can add something exciting, spontaneous or indulgent into those times, it helps me to feel refreshed. Be prepared for the odd spontaneous event to turn out disastrous, but even those will make you laugh and make for a great story!
Photo David Chartier @ Flickr