Having small children can be exhausting!
All parents know it can be exhausting to have small children. Here are some tips on coping with the added workload.
Having small children can be exhausting
You’re woken up too early by a sweet little voice telling you it’s time to play. When you’re not playing, you’re cleaning up. When you’re not cleaning up, you’re preparing food. When you’re not with your children, you think about them. You run from home to work and back and everything revolves around taking care of them.
No reason to sugar-coat it: having one or more young children is just as exhausting as it is rewarding and beautiful.
Many parents of young children simply accept feeling drained, because they think that it comes with the choice to raise a family. It is true that life as you once knew it is gone and that you have little to no time for much more other than parenting. However, small (but powerful) tweaks to what you’re already doing can hugely impact your energy levels and your well-being. Here are some ideas:
- Eat a balanced diet. You probably spend all your energy making sure your child is eating well, but put much less effort into what your own meals look like. Many parents resort to sugar and carbs, which may temporarily give you an energy boost but make you more likely to have sugar cravings and fatigue. Remember to have breakfast, preferably one that includes protein and good fats, to start the day well. Some ideas: egg dish (omelette or poached), oatmeal with nuts, a smoothie that includes protein.
- Sleep enough. We all know how well we feel after a good night’s sleep, but many parents probably haven’t experienced that in a very long time. Not getting enough sleep when you have a newborn is a fact. What is also a fact, however, is that sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on your health if it stretches over a longer period of time. The most common issue -past the newborn phase – isn’t so much the early waking time or the night wakings, but the late bedtime. Prioritising sleep on top of your precious evening “me” time is a bold decision to make, but one you won’t regret.
- Spend less time on your phone. Reaching over to your smartphone is a temptation that everyone finds hard to resist, let alone parents. There is always something to google (“is it normal that my child is X??”), something to buy (“they need new shoes”), something to browse (“let’s look at what inspirational quotes Instagram has on today”) or a photo to take. But smartphones are also draining our energy and making us even more tired than we would normally be. Don’t take my word for it. Try a phone-free day and see how you feel.
- Drink water. When your child was a baby they needed to drink milk every 3 hours max. Granted, that was their only source of nutrition, but your adult body also needs frequent hydration. Your fatigue could indicate an inadequate water intake. Find a system that works for you so that you drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day. A tip: link drinking water to another activity, such as going to the bathroom.
5. Don’t forget who you are inside. It’s so easy to completely forget about what you like, what you need, and what brings you joy (music, reading, talking to a friend) when you have a small child. Remember the energy and positivity you felt after engaging in an activity you loved so much it made you lose track of time? You still have access to that source of energy. The activity might not be as long but even a little bit of time spent on something you love to do counts. A tip: plan for it or it will never happen.
- Move your body. You’re probably feeling too drained to even think of exercising. However, doing it will actually give you energy and boost your mood. You don’t have to do high-intensity training, especially not at the beginning. Start slow and build up as you go. Even brisk walking, which doesn’t require any fancy equipment, counts as exercise.
- Reach out to other people for support. The powerful transformational process of becoming a parent can be a very lonely and scary place to be in. Asking for help and connecting to other parents via Mello – whether that’s new parents to share stories with or more experienced parents to get some pearls of wisdom from – can be a solid support tool on this journey.
Being parents doesn’t have to equal sacrificing our health and well-being. It might seem selfish to think about yourself. It might feel unnatural. But guess what? By applying the above, you will be a happier and more balanced parent – and the first person to benefit from that will be your own child.
Annie Xystouris is a health coach who works with exhausted and overwhelmed toddler mums, helping them go from ‘just coping’ to living a fulfilling life in their new role, without feeling guilty. Annie has developed a programme to guide mothers in regaining their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. She speaks English, French, German and Greek. You can find her @anniexystouris and at www.anniex-healthcoaching.com .
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