Even though it’s summertime and the living is supposed to be easy, as the mom of 8, I found these 8 – 10 (long) weeks when the kids were home from school to be the most tiring of the entire year. Sure, we’re not as overscheduled with activities, sports, music lessons, and homework, but the kids are home, for many of us 24/7, not leaving much time to sneak off to the bathroom alone, never mind have a few hours of uninterrupted time in which to think or get motivated.
Whether you’ve got little tots or active teens, between managing your home, family, and job, there are plenty of days when parenting just isn’t fun and you have to fight through some stretches of exhaustion to maintain some type of normalcy in your life. Even when we’re down and out, our families still need and rely on us, so Mighty Mommy shares 7 ways to power through those exhausting moments of parenting.
#1. Ease Up On Standards
In my earlier parenting years, I definitely had different standards than I do now 20 years later. Sometimes I cannot believe I did things like decorated for the seasons so that my family wouldn’t get bored of the same old décor, vacuumed the entryway nearly every day just in case my in laws would drop by, and even got my kid’s church clothes ready the Friday afternoon before Sunday morning mass. Now, I feel accomplished if we get a Christmas tree up for the holidays, don’t trip on my kid’s sports gear in the foyer and if we get to mass on time, never mind wearing crisp, ironed outfits.
When I go through “parenting slumps” and just don’t have my usual bouts of energy, the first thing I do is to put a few things on the back burner such as some of my overzealous housekeeping duties and just stick to the basics. If my kids are fed, bathed, and clothed and the dishes are done and we have clean laundry, sometimes that is as good as it gets and the rest of the house waits. This was difficult at first, but when I soon realized that my family was just as happy having a sticky kitchen floor as they were when I mopped it twice a day I was able to cut myself a bit more slack, especially when I was too tired or busy to get it all done.
#2. Look for Joy Alerts
On those weary days when I’m dogging it and giving it everything I have just to go through the motions the smallest problems—listening to a leaky faucet continually drip or having a son leave his dirty socks in the hallway instead of putting them in the hamper can seem monumental and drain me even further.
When we’re discouraged and tired, it is difficult to see the positive—in fact many of us tend to focus on what’s wrong in our households which only brings our energy down even further. In those tiring parenting times I play a game a former boss of mine taught me called “Joy Alerts.”
It’s quite simple: you look for simple pleasures throughout the day that make you feel joyful and announce them (even if it’s just to yourself). For instance last week our extra freezer and refrigerator that we keep in our garage both stopped working on the same day! I was already pressed for time with kid’s appointments, a deadline at work and having to get my car in for a very over-due service appointment, but I had to stop everything to empty both appliances so the food wouldn’t spoil. I was too tired to cry so I played the “Joy Alert” game instead. I found two meals I had prepared and frozen just a couple of weeks before that I had forgotten about—yahoo! That was indeed a “Joy Alert.” My kids helped clean both the fridge and freezer while I was getting my car serviced without being asked—“Joy Alert Jackpot!” I didn’t need new tires like I had thought—“Joy, Joy, Joy!” I’m temporarily without an extra freezer and fridge, but focusing on the positives on that daunting day kept me a bit more sane and hopeful.
#3. Connect With Your Partner
Because I have a large family and most of my kids are so close in age, many of my earlier parenting days were a total blur. I’d get up early every morning to get a head start on the day and didn’t stop until I fell into bed exhausted nearly every night, only to get up and do it all over again the following day. There never seemed to be time for anything but kids, laundry and more kids, and because I never liked to ask for help, I carried the burden alone—which didn’t have to be the case because my husband was always willing to help.
Spouses are not always mind readers (despite what we think) so when you’re struggling and need some time to yourself or need an extra set of hands to help lighten your load—let your partner know. Have conversations about a schedule that needs revamping or taking turns making dinner throughout the week. Even if it’s temporary to help you over the hump when you’re just not up to handling your usual responsibilities, it can ease your burdens and give you some respite.
I’ve been divorced for 5 years now and I still rely on my ex-husband to step in and give me a helping hand when I have too much going on both at home and work. Not only is he a huge help, our kids see us still working together for the better of the family.
#4. Find Your Happy Place
One of the easiest things you can do in those tiring moments is to point your thoughts in a more relaxing direction and go to your “happy place.” Most of us have such a place and when we physically can’t be there, we close our eyes and dream about being there. It might be a tropical beach where you are sitting beneath a palm tree in a comfy lounge chair with your toes submersed in cool sand as you lazily watch the waves lap against the shore. Or maybe it’s sitting at the park watching your kids run happily all over the playground while you enjoy your favorite hot beverage. It could be someplace as simple as being curled up on your living room couch reading a great book in your coziest pair of PJs. Whatever image works for you in helping you to relax and unwind, go there as frequently as you need to until you’re ready to “get back at it” and face the reality of what’s happening in your life presently. See Also: 6 Ideas for a Parenting Bucket List
#5. Get Moving
How many times have you heard that even when you don’t feel like it—exercising can invigorate you and recharge your batteries? I used to think that was absolutely nuts, until I started power walking 15 years ago.
The National Sleep Foundation shared a study that physical activity impacts the overall quality of your sleep as well as helps you feel less tired during the day. As busy parents, however, we don’t always have as much time as we’d like to get a full work-out in, and when we’re already exhausted the thoughts of taking a jog or heading to the gym seems daunting.
There are easy ways to sneak exercise into your daily routine even on your most hectic days. Moms with babies can hit the neighborhood and push their baby for a quick jaunt around the block. When grocery shopping, park your car at the back of the lot instead of trying to get a front row spot. Dance when your vacuuming (sing too—no one’s going to hear you with all that noise!), Take a few extra laps around the mall even when you’re done shopping. Take the stairs any chance you get throughout the week. Yardwork such as mowing and weeding is tremendous exercise and gets you out in the fresh air. If you live by the ocean, walk the beach year round—walking on the sand gives you twice the bang for your exercising buck.
There are easy ways to sneak exercise into your daily routine even on your most hectic days.
Find ways you can include your kids when trying to get moving.
#6. Limit Negative Influences
When you’re going through a period of low energy, try to spend as little time as possible around the Eeyores of the world. You know the type I’m talking about, don’t you? People that always find fault with anything and everything. These are individuals who are not supportive or reliable and don’t have your best interest at heart. Eeyores are typically judgmental, demanding, and critical. After being with them, you feel drained and depleted. In other words, they make you feel worse. Limit these negative influences and instead surround yourself with people who are joyful, appreciative, and can celebrate you—just because.
#7. Take Power Naps
When my kids were younger and were at the point of transitioning out of naps, I still made sure they had some down time each day—just 15-20 minutes with a book or lying on their bed listening to music to relax and take the edge off their busy little bodies.
Sometimes, even after you’ve done all you can to stay perky, your body just doesn’t respond to your quick energy fixes so on days like these, I like to do what I used to have my kids do when they were giving up naps– just give in and shut my eyes for a few minutes. When my kids are stressed out from studying for exams or don’t have any real down time between their after-school activities and working or doing homework, I suggest they take a 15-minute power nap to recharge their batteries. Power naps can be a life saver for sleep-deprived parents, students, and anyone else who needs to refuel.
How do you cope as a parent when you’re simply exhausted? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.