Tired… I’m okay I’m just tired.
I’ll probably feel better when I’m not tired.
Not tonight honey I’m tired.
I’ll for sure be more motivated when I’m less tired.
Being tired and daydreaming about sleep is a given when you become a parent. Everyone tells you that you will be tired and they mean well, but even the ones who truly know it and how crushing it can be, still can’t manage to put into words what it feels like. I know I need to accept being tired as part of the parenting experience, our kids are young and everyone tells me it gets better once they are all are over 5 years old and in school. We have one on the way so that marker seems achingly far away for us. Problem is, there are different kinds of mother exhaustion and it’s not all related directly to how many hours of shut eye you can accumulate in one night.
So for all the mums to be, and the veteran mummies… here are a few pretty good reasons as to why we are so darn exhausted all the bloody time!
I have a newborn and I’m beyond all kinds of tired
We wait so impatiently for the arrival of our little love gems and spend the first maybe 4 weeks feeling loved up and bliss filled at their gorgeous purity. We love the snuggles, falling asleep after a feed with them nuzzled on our chest, they sleep for hours during the day and generally are what we all imagine a precious newborn to be. Then the 4 week mark hits (even earlier if you’re one of the unlucky bunch) and they change, boy do they change. They wake from their sleepy birth recovery and they have developed a squawking cry, they become fussy with feeding time, they have colic (why don’t they just burp when you pat their back already?!), they have reflux (insert desperately tired border line sane mother here), you have bleeding nipples and have been jolted into the realities of having a newborn. This is where your sleep officially will never be the same as it was. You consider it a win when they baby sleeps a full 4 hours before his or her next feed. Although if that’s through the night, despite sheer exhaustion, half the time you wake and stir convinced you can hear a baby crying. It’s usually the phantom baby, but it wakes you up none the less. You also think you’re winning when you manage to get a walk in and even cruise the shopping centre while bub kicks back leisurely and doesn’t make a sound. But even those events can be tense as every sound they make you wonder if you’re boobs will leak right through your top or end up navigating your walk home with a screaming baby in your left arm and pushing the over stocked pram in your left.
We have more than one child… what the hell were we thinking?!
Your family expanded, so beautiful and exciting yes. Tired and draining, hell yes. Not only now do you have more than one sleep saboteur living under your roof, you also have to deal with daily trials and tribulations of running your household and raising these kids. The simplest ever of tasks becomes exhausting.
You “duck out” to the grocery shop to grab a few key items, milk for hubby’s coffee and wine for yourself if the bottle shop is close by. You naively assume today will be the day your quick run to the shops will actually happen. Surely it’s today I have some luck. Not usually, not ever. It’s a full scale event. Getting out the door and ensuring everyone’s shoes are on and staying on, everyone buckled in the car after finally subduing the back arching screaming toddler who hates his car seat, you’re then welcomed by the all too familiar yet painful stench of a dirty nappy. You suss out the culprit and take them back inside to change. Again revisit seatbelt strap in debacle. Finally in the front seat ready to go and you’re already huffing and puffing, swearing that you will get fit and get to that exercise DVD one day this week. You arrive at the shops and all seems well so far, you bribe them with a treat in return for well behaved little boys (bribery is fully acceptable once you have more than one child, it’s your only way to survive an outing in public).
To summarise the shopping trip there is a meltdown, hands left right and centre, a baby sucking on the filthy trolley strap, fruit spilt on the floor and pushing the wayward trolley with two kids who seem to weigh a tonne. You navigate the carpark explaining the dangers of running away from Mummy for the tenth time whilst balancing the baby on your hip and shopping bags cutting off your wrist circulation. You get back in the car and if it wasn’t for the fact you can put them to sleep when you get home and have a break, you seriously consider sleeping in the car park right now. Like seriously.
And I don’t even need to describe what happens when you’re pregnant and already have little whipper snappers running around…. Ugh.
I’m trying to have a life, raise kids, balance work and be a good wife
Enter stage 3 of mother exhaustion… life in general. This is the all the stuff we used to complain about making us tired before we had kids and now we juggle that… and the kids.
We balance daily running of the house, cleaning, cooking and making sure bills are paid and the lights don’t get cut off. We go to a full time or part time job and struggle through the day staring at the computer daydreaming about our lunch break and wondering what the kids or baby are doing while at care or Nannies house (god I miss the kids). We are at home with the kids all day, entertaining them, finding new parks that no parent loves to visit but has to if only to ensure they see daylight that day or to wear those little terrors out so they sleep heavy and hard and lunch time.
We try to catch up with girlfriends, family, squeeze in medical appointments and navigate that gorgeous new ladies clothing store with our massively over sized pram that get stuck in every one of the skinny aisles (not to mention I’m no longer a size 10, so when did that happen?).
We attempt to be the good wife, we listen, we care, we do our utmost to remind ourselves that despite how tired we are they are probably just as tired when they walk in the door (although no one can reason with a tired and stressed mumma, so hubby, just a tip, don’t even think about mentioning how tired you are too). We spend more time talking about IT instead of doing it, we really want to have sex and we should have sex, we make the promise that tomorrow night is our night, yep we plan for sex, romantic huh?! Only to fall asleep moments later relieved that the day is over, well for now.
I’m tired just writing that. I’m exhausted most days thinking about all the shit that has to be done whilst dreaming about when I could maybe squeeze a nap in (who am I kidding, the kids will wake up and I’ll probably decide to fold washing instead - foolish woman!) There is no mistaking it is a tiring world being a mumma, and it isn’t just about the sleep. It’s embarking on this new journey, one that is so incredible yet so profoundly new and demanding it takes everything we have to make it work and to get through it. I always wish I wouldn’t be tired, that the simple tasks wouldn’t wear me down. But this is part of the deal, maybe I’ll wait till the 5 year mark like everyone says. Or maybe I’ll just roll with it, concealer in one hand, acceptance in the other.