This won’t be news to other moms reading this: I'm basically tired most of the time. But the beautiful truth also exists that the undeniable joy of motherhood (sometimes) overrides the exhaustion somehow.
If I'm being honest, part of that exhaustion is completely self-induced. I go to bed too late. I take on too much, and worry unnecessarily about anything and everything—-especially at bedtime.
The other part is that being a mother means you are so many things to so many people and sleep always gets pushed further and further down on the priority list.
Plus, with each new stage of motherhood comes new opportunities for sleep deprivation.
Newborn mamas: you are likely in the thick of sleep deprivation, trying to remember what eight hours of sleep even is and why you can't stop crying.
Toddler moms: the process alone of figuring out pre-school registration is enough to put you into hibernation mode.
Moms with school-aged kiddos: There is not enough coffee in the world to keep up with the constant activities, school functions, sports schedules and did I mention activities?
And don't even get me started on teenagers—I'd rather take care of triplet infants and a brood of chicks.
That is a lot of years with no sleep, but here you are doing it all. And you’re doing a pretty fantastic job. Since you're doing it, it has likely become your new norm—you’re able to laugh at yourself for putting your keys in the microwave or when you forget where you're driving to exactly.
But laughter aside, the epidemic of exhaustion is on the rise and whether we want to admit it or not, it's affecting us.
According to the CDC, not getting enough sleep is linked to some serious health issues: diabetes, heart disease, depression, and much much more.
Lack of sleep can also slow down cognitive function, alertness, concentration, and reasoning. As if that isn't enough it is linked to weight gain and premature aging of your skin—there’s a reason it’s called beauty rest!
Like eating healthy and exercising regularly, getting enough sleep has to become a consistent and regular priority for mothers. Our jobs depend on it.
Here’s how to do just that:
Ask for help
I’m the first to admit that asking for help is challenging, but just like any other profession, parenting was not meant to be a one-person job.
We expect our children to ask when they need something, or our co-workers, so why wouldn’t we reach out when the need is there?
It can be as simple as asking a friend to grab you a coffee or a parent to watch the kids while you grocery shop. Your village is there for a reason and despite the guilt that you let creep in for whatever reason, asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a rockstar mom.
Take time to unwind—whether with a bubble bath or just 10 minutes of quiet time to yourself
There’s an understanding in our household that my husband and I set aside time to be alone each day. We’ve come to realize that, without this, we cannot be the best spouses or parents we are capable of being.
I know your to-do list is endless and you might be wondering how on earth you can squeeze in 10 minutes when you can barely go to the bathroom alone, but trust me, the time is there. It might mean literally blocking it off on your calendar, or getting up 10 minutes earlier than your household, but you can find the time, I promise.
Set a bedtime for yourself
I’m willing to bet you have bedtimes in place for your children to ensure they get enough rest—so why not implement this same rule for yourself? Without a bedtime in place, you are far more likely to push your body beyond its ideal sleep window, which can potentially lead to insomnia and exhaustion.
Cut out screen-time at least an hour before bed
Okay this one is so hard for me. Especially because I often find myself laying in bed unable to sleep and the first thing I want to do is grab my phone and catch up on Instagram. Don’t.do.that.
Light that is projected from screens suppresses melatonin and will only make it harder to fall and stay asleep. Giving yourself time to unwind is crucial right before bed, since most of us don’t fall asleep the moment our head hits the pillow. Reading, journaling, practicing deep breaths or deep stretches are all great ways to do that.
We live in a culture where being busy is embraced. And as moms it seems like there is always so much to do with so little time to do it.
It’s why it can take days to get a text response from your mom friend and why it might take three days to mail that letter on your counter. We are all just so busy.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
No to the dishes when you got three hours of sleep last night.
No to the workout that you just “have” to get in.
No to the school project you think needs to be perfect.
Your body needs downtime to restore and feel less-stressed. Plus, there’s something amazing—and rejuvenating—about having days where you have nothing to do.
There will always be a zillion reasons why we let sleep take a backseat as moms— but no matter what your circumstance, remember that sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessary and vital part of your overall health.
I know your drive and determination to be a great mom is enough to convince yourself you can run on fumes, but when everything in your bones is telling you to sleep, put the dishes down and go to bed.