Before you had kids, you probably said you were shattered, knackered and worn out all the time.
You weren’t, of course.
You didn’t even know the meaning of worn out until you spent 12 hours in labour only to be kept awake for the next three years.
Parenting can sometimes feel like the day that never ends, and that’s because you’re woken at all hours night after night.
While tiredness is pretty much a requirement of being a parent to young children, it’s easy to get worn down.
Years of broken, interrupted sleep, clingy children and the stresses of everyday life can easily leave you feeling burnt out.
These tips may come in useful the next your mama batteries are running on empty:
#1: Forget About Everything That Isn’t Necessary Or Urgent
No matter if you're running a successful business or a successful household, there's one thing they all have in common: they focus on what's most important, first. That means taking care of yourself, so you can better take care of your children. If your cup is overflowing, you'll have so much more to give. If you have an empty cup, you'll be in survival mode. It'll feel like you're constantly dropping all the balls you're busily trying to keep in the air.
The idea of having it all sounds great, but it’s nonsense. Nobody has it all. Even the most seemingly together person has some corners of their life that they aren’t quite on top of. You don’t need to be on top of everything, you just need to be happy.
Forget about those skirting boards that need dusting. Cross ironing off your to-do list (really, who actually needs to iron these days?) Stop stressing over those thank you cards you haven’t written yet.
Think of mama burn out as energy saving mode, and do only what you need to in order to survive. The rest of it is just stuff anyway.
#2: Stop Trying To Be Perfect
It's time to pack away your superhero cape. You wont get a pay increase for being super mama of the year, but you may win a month's worth of burnout.
Your kids don’t care whether you’ve spent three hours setting up an elaborate craft activity you found on Pinterest or just thrown some egg boxes and paint brushes at them. They just want to have fun. With you.
They don’t care whether the kitchen is spotless, they just want to have fun with you. They don’t care whether you’ve showered or put mascara on, they think you’re awesome anyway.
Stop comparing yourself to that perfect mother at baby group, and instead start focusing on the things that make you feel happy.
Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect parent. But there are many ways you can be a great one.
#3: Meet Up With Friends
You know that parenting friend you have whose house is just as messy as yours? The one who didn’t bat an eyelid when she pulled a day old raisin out of your eyebrow that time? The one who totally gets exactly how you feel, and never judges you for moaning about your kids?
You need her. Stat. Get her on the phone and make some plans. Your kids can entertain each other while you mainline coffee and have a good old fashioned moan.
Women thrive when they get good doses oxytocin — the hormone of love and bonding. Being with your favourite women, chatting and bonding, will help get that oxytocin flowing. You'll feel so much better for it.
#4: Get Out Of The House
One of the biggest secrets to changing your mood is changing your environment.
If you’re having one of those days where you just want to wear pyjamas and hide indoors, you need to get out of the house. Small children are no good at hibernating. They have too much energy, and will soon be bouncing off the walls. And let’s be honest, you’re not all that tolerant when you’re feeling worn out. So, to avoid a family drama, get out into the open air.
Don’t worry about the weather, whether it’s sunny or pouring with rain, just dress appropriately and get outdoors to blow off some steam. Your kids will have fun, burn off some energy and the fresh air will probably leave you feeling a little better yourself.
#5: Stop And Breathe
Yes, you’re worn out. Yes, you’re exhausted. Yes, it could be argued that your kids are to blame for all of this. But don’t take it out on them. It’s all too easy to end up snapping at your kids when you’re feeling burnt out. Your patience isn’t what it would usually be, and you might find yourself overreacting to even the smallest thing.
Try to take the time to pause, breathe and put things in perspective. You’ll have a better day if you can do this, though it’s not always easy.
#6: Tick Something Off Your List
When your to-do list starts to spiral out of control, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do. That can then stop you from doing anything, because you’re too busy feeling stressed out.
There’s no need to do everything at once. It can be very therapeutic to write out your to-do list on paper — it frees up the swirling mess in your mind. Then pick just one thing you can tick off your list today. Not something huge. Just pick something simple and manageable.
Get it done, then relish that feeling when you cross it off your list — with a big, fat, black texta. You'll feel like you're making progress as well as feeling more organised at the same time.
#7: Go Easy On Yourself
You’re not being judged for Mother of The Year, there’s no judging panel critiquing your every move. You’re just a tired mama trying to make it through the day. Go easy on yourself. Think about what you’d say to a friend if they were in your situation, and then take your own advice.
#8: Stay Away From Social Media
The brain loves novelty and new information, so social media can really suck us in. We decide to take a quick check, and two hours later, we're still reading the latest news and junk articles, out of what feels like uncontrolled curiosity.
Not only that, but do you know those really awful days where you aren’t going to get any nominations for Mother of The Year? The ones where you can’t drag yourself out of bed, let your kid eat ice cream for breakfast (because, when you’re that tired, who can be bothered arguing?) and ask your trusted babysitter — the TV — to help out for a couple of hours.
You know what makes those days 10 million times worse? Logging onto social media just in time to see that every other mother on the planet has spent the day picking blackberries, setting up treasure hunts and making finger puppets with their kids. They've planted the bulbs for spring and their inlaws have popped over and baked them a delicious, hot baked casserole for lunch.
You don’t need to see that, not when you’re slumped on the sofa, eating toast leftovers, while watching your fifth episode of Peppa Pig.
#9: Ask For Help
There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. Everybody needs a little help sometimes. Parenting is tough, it’s relentless and it’s all too easy to end up feeling exhausted. If you have help available, make the most of it. Tell your partner how you feel and whether there’s anything he could do to help. Ask friends and family members whether they’d be able to offer a hand for just a few hours. They’ll most likely be thrilled to spend some time with your little family.
If you can't rely on friends and family, look into a postnatal doula. They are angels. If you can't afford a doula, try a student nanny. Often nanny training organisations have programs where their student nannies can gain experience working with your family.
#10: Book In Some Me Time
When you’re feeling worn out, you need some time to recharge your batteries. You just need a few hours away from the pressures of everyday life, the clawing hands and the endless requests. It’s not always easy to find that time, but when you’re feeling burnt out you need to make this a priority.
A simple soak in a bubble bath might be all you need to feel human again. Sometimes just having a couple of hours to process your thoughts can make a tremendous difference. Carve out some space for yourself, and give yourself the TLC you deserve.
Every mama has moments of feeling completely worn out. With these tips, you can push through the bad days and remember to treat yourself with the TLC that you deserve.
Check out BellyBelly’s article on Why You Should Chuck A Mummy Sickie.