Tiredness in motherhood is real. Right from the start, whether you are suffering with first trimester exhaustion or adoption nerves, we are often tired before children even grace the doors of our home or our relationships. There is short term weariness- from chickenpox, children waking in the night ill or teething. It is hard to feel refreshed as a weary mama.
There is the long term exhaustion that you can start to get used to, from feeding a baby every night for an unending number of days, your own illness or caring for a child who wakes for various reasons, or from having a child with special needs, insomnia – there are so many things that can easily crush our desires for a good night of rest.
Exhaustion can feel crippling, especially when there seems to be no end in sight. We can go through our days feeling foggy, just longing for the next opportunity for a nap or a night of rest, however unlikely it is. We find our tiredness affecting our attitudes, changing our feelings and making us doubt ourselves.
Whatever state of physical weariness we find ourselves in, it is key to find ways to be refreshed in each season. Physical refreshment might be naps, early nights, eating better. Getting out in the fresh air for exercise to get those endorphins going.
But refreshment can often be needed on a deeper level. Whether we are coping with only a few nights of broken sleep, or waking feeling exhausted despite sleeping all night long, we need to have deep refreshment, that goes even beyond the feeling of weariness.
Doing something that fills up our souls.
Connecting with important relationships in our lives to fill us up.
Doing something we enjoy.
Taking ten minutes to reflect on the day/ week/ month and breathe.
In a world where our moments of pause can often be spent on a screen, watching something, sending messages or checking social media we need to intentionally choose something else. we have to deliberately go somewhere else and do something else.
Finding deep refreshment
The thing is that deep refreshment doesn’t come easily – not at first. Habits take time to form- and break- and it is so easy to default to our easy options in those minutes when you have a little space mentally. But when we think about it, how often do we leave social media or screens feeling filled up, inspired or equipped for the next day/ hour/ challenge? I know that while I do enjoy it and find it entertaining that occasionally choosing something that is truly life giving refreshes me on a much deeper level that always defaulting to the easy option.
How do we know what these things are? Think of things you say I want to .. but i don’t have enough time. You may not have time to spend hours on something or get something done like you would like- but I am sure you could spend 5 or 10 minutes doing just a little. Something is better than nothing, even if you would love a free day to yourself more than anything. Fill the cracks of your day with things that bring you life – don’t wait for the wide open spaces of time to open up or you miss out on the here and now.
Perhaps think of things that you used to do, enjoyed as a child or just something nice like having a bath. If you are out of ideas, just try something and see how it makes you feel and keep going until you work it out.
Something is better than nothing
Keep it simple, try to do something each day. Often just knowing we have given ourselves permission to enjoy something is enough. Even if it looks nothing like it did before you had children. Even if exercise is doing 5 minutes while the little one splashes in the bath. Or a quick cupcake recipe is better than nothing- even if you’d love to have time to devote to cooking something more complex. One day you will. But right now grab the snippets as you can- and use them in ways that will give you life and energy. Put your phone up high, keep your tv off until later.
Invest in your marriage, phone a friend you haven’t spoken to in far too long. Nurture your talents and dreams and all those things lying dormant, even if it’s only for ten minutes a day.
Sit down and breathe. Feel the quiet of bedtime, or naptime, or of your child occupying themselves just for a little while. Remember the good things. Remember what a great job you are doing. It is unending, it is often thankless, but you are doing so well. Remember the things you love about your child, that make you laugh. Remember who you are and how loved you are.
Your weariness does not determine your abilities as a mother. Your tiredness will pass, one day. But here and now you can take steps to make sure you are finding some deeper refreshment for your heart and soul, and you will always be glad that you started.