No one knows “Weary” like a mother. The years of ‘all nighters’ are no party, and the stain of ‘tired’ can paint lines on our face. But, there is a way to function and find joy, amidst the sleepless years. Here is some encouragement for tired moms, who hit the battle field each day, armed with coffee and a will to survive.
#1. Remember YOU.
I remember being a bright eyed twenty something with my first baby belly like it was last week. But admittedly, the first year of motherhood was a shocker for me. Returning to college three weeks after giving birth, popping home in between my full load of classes to nurse my son, while balancing a part-time job, and being a young wife, had me exhausted by the end of the year. I had given everything I had, and then some. I felt like a rockstar though, because I had not given up!
Fast forward to child number six, for some reason, I still thought I was a ‘bright-eyed-twenty-something’. Instead, I was a thirty-something, running on fumes I did not recognize were ‘burning out’ fast. I was always the gal who had ‘loads of energy’. But, this time, we were in the middle of a MAJOR renovation on our house (think tearing the roof off and building a second storey), and my husband had returned to work within a few days of having our son. I jumped back into my routine without pausing for a moment, sleepy-eyed and unaware of any problem with that.
Undeterred by circumstance, I did not notice HOW tired I was. Certainly, I had no time to be tired, so it did not occur to me to reflect on it long. Within two months of two hours of sleep a night, all day alone with six kids, homeschooling, hitting every event I could with the fam, and forgetting to drink enough water in the dead heat of summer, I collapsed. Like, I literally collapsed.
“…I Forgot to remember ME. “
I could not say “no” when I needed to. Whatever someone needed or wanted, I gave. I gave from the empty pit that was my stomach and from the lifelessness I felt in my frame.
People want to visit? Sure. Make supper for those visiting? Why not… Participate in every summer event known to mankind? “Ok”. It’s not like I just had a baby again…like yesterday. I’m a mom and I can “do it all”.
In the midst of NOT saying “no”, I forgot to remember ME.
After my son’s birthday party for five hours in the intense heat, searching stores all afternoon for a fancy shoe that SAME birthday kid had to wear as ring-bearer the next morning at our niece’s wedding, nursing a baby, empty stomach and sick with exhaustion I was too tired to see coming, my legs just crumpled beneath me. That frustrated me more than one can imagine. I had nothing to give. Lying in a hospital bed, unable to stand without collapsing made me realize the importance of bringing encouragement to tired moms.
“Mom Guilt” to the Max.
It was not in my vocabulary to say “no”. I went to the wedding the next day without a wink of sleep. Unfortunately, I missed the after party, because I collapsed AGAIN in the church.
SO embarrassed. But more than that, I was crushed that I disappointed people. We had to leave. “Mom guilt” to the max.
AND it was my husband’s birthday. Miserable and alone, I had to spend the whole night in the ER being tested for everything under the sun.
Talk about a ‘day you want to forget’.
I am no SUPER HUMAN.
The weeks turned into months. And I was still collapsing. Finally, an older, very kind specialist encouraged me. He told me remember to take care of myself. It’s not like people in my life had not been hammering my need of “self-care” into my thick thoughts. But for the first time, I really heard it.
He said such simplicity…DRINK WATER…. EAT regularly to keep my blood pressure normalized (it was running too low). With his push, I began running again, making time to move past my fear of falling down and being useless to my family. In his eyes, though, I saw no judgement. I knew he saw my weary state and he took me back to “Baby Steps” I could embrace. He knew how to bring encouragement to tired moms, and THAT was exactly what I needed.
Sometimes it takes a total collapse of everything to realize our greatest need. My spiritual life was solid. My marriage was strong. Our kids were amazing. The blur of motherhood and no sleep made me forget I had physical needs too. Lying in bed at a hospital, separated from my family, made me realize how important it is to prioritize balance and not try to be SUPER HUMAN.
I learned to say “No”, and I am still learning. figuring out some balance to keep my health maintained is a challenge I am still figuring out. But I made it my mission to encourage tired moms everywhere. Therefore, if there is any word of encouragement I can give you from that stressful life lesson…it is to REMEMBER YOU. It is not selfish. It is HOW to care best for your family.
THREE EASY WAYS TO “REMEMBER YOU”:
- TAKE the time for yourself to breathe each morning. Do not start your day in a mad rush to get through the million things you have to do. Start with YOU, Mama. Even if that means going to bed earlier so you can get up a half hour ahead of schedule.
- Do one thing each day you absolutely LOVE. Just You. Sounds impossible? It can be, if you do not prioritize yourself. But I am a Mama of seven kiddos, who need constant input, and I still make time each day to take a few moments and do something meaningful to ME. For example, read a chapter in a book you have been longing to read. Get out some water-colour paints and make a greeting card. Anything that truly interests you will make you a happier mom, knowing you took time for yourself, too.
- Accept help. This is one area I have really battled. I am a total “I can do it myself” woman. This is not a healthy attitude though. We need each other. I am also not modelling to my daughter that she needs to accept help as she grows into motherhood one day. When pride and impatience to ‘get things done’ is put aside, we are so much stronger with a helping hand. Let your spouse do what they are offering to help with. INSIST others pitch in to get things done. If yours kids are physically healthy, there is NO REASON they are not helping with daily tasks. By working together, you become a strong team, rather than an exhausted mom complaining that no one is helping you. Delegate tasks like the manager of your home that you are, and rest in its flow. You do NOT have to do it all yourself.
#2. Self-Care is Not a “Guilt Trip”.
Once I learned the importance of “caring for me”, however, I was suddenly bombarded with an endless list of self-care advice. From manicures to massages, and buying the latest “whatever” in the name of mental health awareness. Having our conscience bludgeoned in the name of self-preservation is no encouragement for tired moms!
Self-Care is NOT , and should never be, a “guilt trip”. It should never make you feel anxious or like you need to ruin your financial goals, because you HAVE to dump money on something you don’t even think you want.
3 Things Self-Care IS:
- Self Care is a NEED. You NEED sleep. Make sure people in your life are on board with helping out, so you can clock some shut eye.
- Self-Care is a SUPPORT. If there is one encouragment for tired moms out there, it is “connecting”. We need a way to support our mental and emotional well-being in the daily warfare of being a mom. Choose things to DO that create a space for your to feel supported. Do you have a close friend you can communicate to? Be AUTHENTIC with them, so they can speak into your life in the way you really need it most. For example, The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 27:6, “The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Let someone you trust speak truth in love into your life. When they say you are grumpy and need more sleep, you probably do! It is a support to have someone in our life speak truth!
- Self-Care is TIME. One sure way to feel frazzled is to let time escape us. By running from one event to another we lose sight of our life, in trying to fill every crack and cranny in our schedule. Take TIME to breathe, to reflect, to journal out thoughts you need to process. In doing so, you will see your life, rather than wake up and notice decades have passed like a rat in a wheel.
2 Things Self-Care is NOT:
- Self Care is NOT an excuse to spend money. When we hand out money freely with the tagline “Self-Care” attached we can run in a dangerous direction. Media will push what the latest trend is, and if they can sell you five yoga mats because “self-care” is the hottest topic, they will!
- Encouragement for tired moms can mean defining what is harmful to our mental health. For example, Self-Care is NOT an excuse to put yourself ABOVE others. Sometimes ‘Self-care’ can be ballooned out of proportion so YOU become the most important soul on the planet. I love the healthy balance found in the book of Matthew that says, ” Love others AS you love yourself.” It is not saying to love others less, and it is certainly NOT saying love yourself less. Ephesians 5 says this, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” Cherish yourself. you are precious. Just don’t forsake the precious position those closest to you hold as well.
Believe that what you NEED physically and emotionally, is a space to breathe, food to nourish, time to reflect, a way to ‘connect’ with someone kindred, and a moment to move your body to maintain your health.
Self-care does not have to be complicated or expensive. It should never be the result of a marketing scheme that robs you of sleep at night, because “‘self-care’ said I had to break our budget and buy those shoes”.
“Believe that what you NEED, is a space to breathe, food to nourish, time to reflect, and a moment to move your body to keep your health.”
Be wise. Be calm. That in itself is a way to care for ourself.
#3. MOVE Your Body
In what feels like an eternity ago, I battled deep dark depression. I was teen that was consumed by inner turmoil and circumstances around me.
I was sent like clockwork to a psychologist…then on to a psychiatrist.
One thing I DID know, was that I did not want to end up a teen on “anti-depressants”. I was sure that if I could just grab hold of an activity to focus on, I could avoid it.
“Running” became my new drug. Not running AWAY from life…but rather running towards it.
I knew it did not matter much what I did for a physical activity as much as just needing to get those natural serotonins and a healthy, honourable course of action.
Still Relevent today…
To this day, exercising has been a way I “process” the intensity of life’s seasons. Sitting in one place stewing over difficulties, stressing over each detail, only turns the problem inward. Moving my body, brings release, clarity and often…a solution. I know when I exercise I am the best version of me, and have the energy I need for my family and to bring encouragement to tired moms like me!
Moving our bodies is one of the most ESSENTIAL parts of life.
Indeed, this is not a “Self-Care” category. I consider this like breathing. You do not BREATHE because it is “self-care”. You breathe because if you do not, you will die.
Movement has an incredible affect on our mental health, EVEN our exhaustion. I have often been profoundly ‘awakened’ to new energy even in my most strained days physically, by taking time to move my body.
Through the flow of exercise our body is oxygenated, uplifted and toned.
We FEEL better knowing we took those moments out of our day, for only ourselves. And that’s “Ok”. In fact, it should be celebrated.
Here are a few EASY ways to move your body:
- Get outside in the fresh air and sun and walk. Sometimes we need to just MOVE our body in order to “move our body”. The moments we spend arguing with ourselves is the time it takes us to finish a workout. Silence your mind and get outside!
- Put that old piece of exercise equipment that you picked up years ago and now use as a clothes rack, to good use! Start with 15 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes or even 60 minutes! You will INFUSE your life with good health by developing consistent habit and fight off disease.
- Join an online group! Long gone are the days when we could only workout at the gym surrounded by body builders. We can join incredible groups like Beachbodyondemand and have access to thousands of easy workouts from the comfort of our homes! Even YouTube has streaming exercise channels!
- Need more support? Join a local group with people of your interests! Kickboxing, swimming classes for adults (easy on the joints), or High Intensity Interval Training groups are all available locally and bring something to look forward to each week!
You are Enough Mama
Here is the best encouragement for tired moms I can give you….we will all fail, in some way or another. There are so many ways we can do better. BUT that’s ok. Failure in some things is not a “mark of failure” on your life. You are ENOUGH for your kids. There is no bar you have to set that is too high to reach. Our kids are so filled with unconditional love. They do not need the latest gadget to be happy. Our job is not even to make them happy! Our job is to love them unconditionally, give them life, set them up for adulthood as best we can. Trust that you were meant to be their Mom and you do not have to be someone else’s mom. You are are enough. You are the complete package for YOUR kid.