Being an exhausted mom after your child is born is normal. However, you probably aren’t prepared for the depth of this exhaustion.
You’ve just birthed a human.
Not only is your body is adjusting to not being pregnant, but it’s also working to feed a nursing child. You need sleep, but it is inconsistent and never long enough. Your family and friends want to come see the new baby, but you have no desire or time to be prepared for the visits. Life is one long blur of diaper changing, feedings, and naps.
Yet, you wouldn’t change a thing.
But what do you do when the birth recovery is complicated by other health issues? After the birth of my first child, I couldn’t seem to muster up any energy. No matter how much I slept—granted it wasn’t much or consistent—I was exhausted. The bags under my eyes threatened to carry my face away every time I looked in the mirror. A month after my child’s birth, the doctor listened to my concerns, did some tests, and discovered the issue: severe anemia. No wonder I had zero energy.
When you struggle to make it through the day, how does an exhausted mom cope or even attempt to build community?
Take care of your physical needs.
How many times have you heard a flight attendant say, “In case of a loss in air pressure, put your mask on first. Then, help others you are traveling with you.” We all know the reason for this—you can’t help someone else if you are passed out. But, as moms, we somehow buy into the lie that we aren’t allowed to take care of ourselves. Let’s call this what it is: ridiculous. Therefore, I give you permission to pay attention to your physical energy needs today. Are you eating foods that provide the nutrients your body needs? Are you resting when you are able?
Celebrate your physical and energy wins.
Too often we waste energy focusing on what we can’t do or didn’t do. My coach calls this sideways energy. It’s better to orient your thinking toward what you can do. If it’s a low energy day, go with it. Reduce your expectations for what you can accomplish today. Instead enjoy more snuggle times, if your kids will let you. Read books with your kids. Have a coloring or craft day that’s low-key and fun. If it’s a higher energy day, get at it. Take the kids to the park. Clean the bathroom. Use that energy to accomplish something. Whatever kind of day it is, look for the win in the day instead of focusing on what isn’t possible.
Comparison kills you. No one wins in the comparison game. Besides, it’s never apples-to-apples anyway. You do not live in your friend’s shoes. When I was newly married, I met my heart sister. She and I are as different as they come. She is tall; I’m short. She works full-time outside her home; I’ve mainly been a stay-at-home mom. Her house is always neat and clean; mine is presentable on most days. In the early days of our friendship, I fell into the comparison trap. In my mind, I didn’t measure up. Notice I said, “in my mind.” She never made me feel that way. You are not your friend. Your friend is not you. Focus on deepening the relationship.
Create your community by inviting others to your home.
There are seasons in life where you may experience a lower energy level or even recurring illness. When that happens, it doesn’t have to cut you off from your community. However, building community takes more energy. And it will probably take letting go of some pride about your home. Invite a friend over for morning coffee or afternoon tea. Before you freak out, I’m not talking about anything complicated. No fancy treats. Just whatever you have at home or pick up at the store, even if that is water. You are building relationships not trying to impress them with your cooking skills.
- Simplify your schedule. Mothering is 24/7/365. Even when you are on vacation you are still mothering, just in a different location. It’s easy to fall into the trap of having to do it all. But life has seasons. There are times when all you do is nurse, change diapers, do laundry, and try to get some rest. Then there comes a time when you will be up late wondering where your teen is or coming home from one of their events. Time with them will be precious. The point is that life is continually changing. Therefore, it’s important to keep your schedule and expectations as simple as possible. When the kids are grown and gone, you will have time to pursue what may not be reasonable right now. And, you will miss those crazy days with your kiddos.
Prioritize your energy expenditures.
Not every person is an energizer bunny. I’m married to one, but I’m not one. Sometimes this huge energy gap creates tension in our marriage. But, I’ve learned to not compare (see #3) and so has he. You may not have the same energy as your friends. That’s okay, too. The important lesson to learn is to budget your energy to maximize your day. Some days it may be all you can handle to simply make sure the kids are fed and alive at the end of the day. Other days, the trip to the grocery store will seem like a breeze. What do you need to do to capture the extraordinary beauty in your normal day? You are the only one who knows what that looks like.
You can do this, even when you feel like you are slogging through your days.
By the way, in case you forgot, you are the best mom your child will ever know. The only way your child will feel like they are missing out on something is if you tell them. Without realizing it, you and I communicate disappointment to our children through our negative words. Because we believe we are ruining our kiddos, we say things like:
- I’m sorry we can’t go to Disneyland
- We just can’t afford skiing lessons
- I know I’m making this a bad day for you
- Maybe when Mommy feels better we can go to the park
Why are you telling your children what they are missing out on when you could be doing what you can at home to create a pleasant and peaceful life? Stop doing that. These type of comments are rooted in comparison.
Find ways to make your reality the best it can be.
- Let’s have a backyard picnic today.
- Grab some blankets to and we’ll make a tent.
- It’s time for a movie, popcorn, and treats.
- Would you show Mommy how to make a cool rocket with your Legos?
You’ve got this, Momma. You can create the community and home life you desire. You just might need to get a bit more creative during this season.
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If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.