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At one point or another, we’ve all felt tired… worn out… like an exhausted mother, but now we know it’s for good reason.
“So? What would you do?”
This is the point during my phone conversation with my friend that I realize I must have stopped paying attention to the story and starting thinking about what I should make for dinner.
When I realize that she’s waiting on my response and that I’ve zoned out, I quickly try to remember the last few things she said before I give up & say, “Oh man. I missed the last part- what did you say?”
She laughs because she’s been there… when she was the one listening & I was the one telling the story.
The truth is that when you are a parent, your mind is always spinning, always thinking about… everything.
That is the real reason for being an exhausted mother.
The mental load that is always there is the reason that we are tired.
I am not talking about being tired only in the physical sense, like lack of sleep, but also in the mental & emotional sense. We’re always thinking: always spinning the wheels in our minds.
Our minds never stop. As mothers, we are always thinking about what needs to be done (from simple things like switching the laundry over to bigger things like checking that the kids have their work done for school.)
My husband thinks about this stuff, too, but he doesn’t seem to dwell on things like I do. I’ve seen the same thing with my parents, as well as with my Aunt & Uncle.
I’ve always heard that women are typically more prone to be multitaskers, and once we become mothers, we have even more on our plates (even if we do put it there ourselves). When we get those things cleared off of our plate, we just add more. It’s the reason that we feel like there is never enough time in the day.
Did you know that 60% of moms feel that lack of time contributes to their stress?
72% of moms say they stress about how stressed they are.
Imagine that… no wonder there are exhausted mothers everywhere! 😉
If you are feeling exhausted, there are five things I’d ask you to remember.
Before I get into them, please understand that know that your exhaustion is valid. It’s real.
It’s isn’t laziness, whining, or complaining – you aren’t simply a tired mom who could use a nap. It’s more than that.
Mother’s brains & emotions are always working in alert mode. We are constantly worrying about our family, thinking about them, remembering our long to-do list, etc.
The problem comes if the emotional exhaustion becomes too much, as it could lead to poor mental health. The good news is that you can do some things to help. 🙂
1). Don’t Try To Be A Perfect Mom. Try To Find The Perfect Moments.
Your kids can’t be perfect. Neither can mine.
Your home can’t be perfect. Neither can mine.
Those things can’t be done. Let them go. Otherwise, you’ll always be chasing a dream that will never come true.
Instead, enjoy the practically-perfect moments.
I once wrote a post about how having more children is less stressful.
The reason for it pretty simple: I know that I don’t have time for everything, so I only do what I can do. I don’t want to spend my time trying to do everything perfectly, and I am OK with that. If I tried, I’d go crazy.
What I can do is realize that I can’t do it all perfectly, so I can choose to focus on the important things.
When we stop trying to do it all, we find that we have more time for the things that matter, like talking with our kids or playing a game with our spouse.
When we stop trying to be “super-mom,” and we stop trying to do it all without any help, we are giving our family a gift – the gift of our attention—the gift of our mental & emotional presence.
If we miss the opportunity to spend quality time with them now, it’ll be gone. This period of time is something we can never get back.
It frees up our thoughts to allow us to be mentally, emotionally, and physically present at the moment with our family. We are free to enjoy their laughter, play with them, talk to them, and just be with them. It lets us find & enjoy those perfect moments.
2). You Can’t Control The Future.
A study from the National Institution of Health conducted a study about exhausted mothers. The researchers found that fear of their child’s future was a huge contributor.
“The mothers’ concern for their responsibility in preparing for their children’s future may become overwhelming.”
One of the mothers, Bénédicte, who participated in the study, shared her thoughts on her children’s future.
“Well… What I experience is fear actually. The fear of who my child is going to be, the fear that my child believes he is not loved enough, the fear that… to know that… what I do now is what will contribute to make my children happy or unhappy in the future. My only goal is to make them happy later. That’s my problem: the fact that my goal is not to make them happy now, but to make them happy later. This used to be a big, big problem.” (Bénédicte)
The results of the study on a mothers exhaustion:
‘Because of this overwhelming concern for the future of their children, the mothers were not able to enjoy the present, which added to their sense of pressure.’ ~ NCBI
3. You’re Doing Your Part… Let Them Do Theirs.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “There are two things we should give our children one is roots, and the other is wings.” It was written on a cross-stitched picture in my grandma’s house for as long as I can remember.
We give our children ROOTS: The unconditional love and safety of home. Home (being with their family) is where our children learn who they are and what they want to be when they are grown. Home is where they are always safe, never judged, and loved every minute of every day.
We give our children WINGS: We teach them, and then we let them go. We allow them to explore. We encourage them to learn, to take chances, to make mistakes, and to fly.
If they ever need us, they can look back to their ROOTS and remember that we are there, waiting for them.
What they do with their wings is up to them. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. Just like your parents aren’t making your every move, you will not make every move for your children. Give them love & safety, and then let them fly.
4). Understand the “WHY”
Now that I’ve told you to let go of perfection, along with the idea that you have to do it all perfectly without any help, I want to ask you to ‘find the why.’ Is there another reason behind the exhaustion… to feeling like a tired mom?
Why do you feel exhausted?
- Is it because you have recently added a new responsibility?
- Are your children not doing their best work in school?
- Are your children not listening?
- Are you not having time to relax each day?
- Are you spending too much time online, only to find that you are now comparing yourself to others?
This is so important.
No matter how you feel, you can’t fix it until you learn why you feel that way. Once you discover the reason, you can find a solution.
Find A Solution
- If your kids are not listening, you need to set some new rules and be extremely consistent.
- If the kids are arguing, learn how to stop sibling rivalry.
- If no one is helping out around the house, teach them the value of work before play by sticking to this chore system.
- If you are not finding time to yourself to recharge each day, put them to bed earlier.
- If you are comparing yourself to others, it’s time to get off of social media and get back into your own life. Only YOU can be YOU, so don’t worry about anyone else. (Plus- being online is a huge time suck, so if you find that you are spending more time on your phone or computer, you may need to take a technology break.)
5). “Take care of YOU”
As Kit De Luca reminds us, sometimes you just have to “take care of you.”
Are you eating foods that give you nourishment? That handful of goldfish here & there doesn’t count. Make sure that you are drinking enough water, exercising (you can use this 30-day workout calendar or even try exercising while you’re sitting down), and getting enough sleep (I know hard when you are in the middle of the baby night-shift)
Every day, I find time to take care of myself, even if it’s not in a way that others might think. It might not be a weekend away or even a visit to the nail salon, but these things work for me just the same…
I take care of myself by …
- getting a long bath or shower every single night.
- watching the news every morning with my husband.
- putting the kids to bed on time so they will be rested and happy (which makes me happy.)
- putting in my headphones, putting on my latest audiobook & taking a 20-minute walk around the block whenever I need one.
- putting on a movie that I want to watch, but one that’s also appropriate for children, and announcing on Alexa, “I’m going to watch a movie and eat popcorn if anyone wants to join me!”
- talking to my friend, my mom, or my aunt.
- hugging our kids.
- Playing a board game or cards with our family at night (no electronics allowed)
- Reading the Bible or a devotional with our family
- sitting on the back porch swing
You need to find what works for you & fit it into your day, even if it’s just a few minutes here & there. If you find yourself losing your cool (and you don’t want to yell), take a minute and spend some TLC on yourself.
- Go on a walk (download a book & listen to it while you’re walking)
- Take a bath or get a shower
- Read a book
- Call a friend
- Watch a movie with your kids
- Play a game (not on your phone)
- Listen to a guided meditation on youtube.
- Do a workout (it releases endorphins so you’ll feel better)
As PsychologyToday reminds us that exhausted mothers need to know when it is just that “motherhood is exhausting” and when it is more, “Emotional burnout in most cases can be avoided if you always take measures to care of yourself. Do not overwork yourself, be kind to yourself and your body, be a better communicator, and love yourself enough to put yourself first always.”
If you ever feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to be HAPPY so you can see & enjoy those practically-perfect moments. There are so many in the day if you take a chance to find them. 🙂