“Behind every tired mom is a heart full of love and a soul overflowing with dedication. Her weariness is a testament to the selfless and tireless efforts she puts into nurturing her family. Even in exhaustion, her love remains unwavering, for her family is her greatest source of strength.”Unknown
It’s a vicious cycle. You are a tired mom but still doing everything for your family because you won’t give up and know that you have to keep going no matter what.
If you are a tired mom wondering what’s wrong and thinking how you never expected motherhood to be this tiring, you are not alone.
Many of us feel the same.
The thing is many women don’t know what they are getting into before embracing motherhood. I mean everyone knows there will be sleepless nights and less control over their time, but they don’t get the full picture.
I don’t think anyone told me about the identity shift I would be experiencing.
I didn’t know I would be shedding a part of myself and fusing a new self into my soul. Because of this, I have experienced a lot of confusion about my identity because I couldn’t relate to my non-mom self anymore or fully embrace my mom-self 24/7 either.
I don’t know about others, but it took me years to fully accept myself as a mom.
It’s been quite a journey and only after I fully bought it, did I feel happier about motherhood and find fulfillment in my daily mom chores.
And I think that itself has brought changes to my daily exhaustion.
Motherhood is not just about doing – doing things to raise a child. But it’s more about integrating a new and permanent role into yourself while also preserving the individual you were before babies.
I think this is the reason so many moms feel tired and depressed. Apart from the hormones, the never-ending responsibilities make them feel overwhelmed.
And the sacrifices they have to make because they either don’t have the time or the resources to do activities that energize them can add to the tiredness.
Even though you cannot make your problems disappear just like that, there are various ways to determine what factors drain your energy and improve on that area.
Here are 4 major reasons why moms are always tired and tips that will help.
I. Moms feel tired due to Physical Health Issues
There are many factors coming under tiredness due to physical health issues. Here are some factors to look for:
1. Lack of sleep
Undoubtedly, not getting enough sleep is the number one issue for most moms.
Even when I have older kids now (11 and 8 at the time of writing this), I am sleep-deprived sometimes.
And now it’s not because my kids don’t sleep at night, but because they have to wake up early for school and that means I have to wake up one hour prior to that.
And I find it hard to fall asleep early at night. To get a full 8 hours of sleep, I should be in bed by 9.30 pm at least, and everyone knows it’s easier said than done.
But after trying hard, I have been able to bring some consistency to my sleep-wake-up schedule and it is helping my energy levels too.
It’s even harder for moms with younger kids like toddlers or babies because the sleep they get is interrupted and that affects the quality of sleep very much.
It’s particularly true for new moms, who may not get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night due to the constant care needed by their baby.
Sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion and hamper your body’s ability to heal from pregnancy and childbirth, affecting your overall health and energy levels.
Even if you are not a new mom, most people require 8 hours of sleep per day.
Tips to overcome tiredness due to lack of sleep:
- Make sure to prioritize sleep and find ways to create a regular sleep routine or catch naps when possible. While it can be challenging, discussing your needs with your partner or seeking help from family and friends could contribute positively to your sleep quality.
- Even if you are not a new mom, prioritize sleep as if your life depended on it. Sleep is important not only to improve energy levels but also for overall hormonal health. And if your hormones go whacky, you can end up feeling more exhausted and cause other diseases too. So, if you can’t get full sleep at night, try to get some naps during the day to pay off your sleep debt.
- Avoid staying up late by being on your phone. This can interfere with your sleep and make it more difficult to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
In some cases, fatigue could be caused by medical conditions like anemia or thyroid disorders.
Anemia, which is common during pregnancy, can cause fatigue due to iron deficiency. If you suspect this may be the cause, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment, such as taking iron supplements.
Similarly, hormonal imbalances might contribute to tiredness, especially during pregnancy and postpartum recovery. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.
2. Diet and nutritional intake
Another crucial aspect to consider is your diet and nutritional intake.
Eating a balanced diet helps maintain energy levels, but sometimes there’s a tendency for moms to overlook their diets, especially during the postpartum period.
It’s important to ensure that you consume a good mix of nutrients and avoid relying on high-fat snacks or caffeinated beverages, as these provide only temporary energy boosts.
Not eating nutritious food will eventually catch up with you. I know it’s super hard when you have to take care of the nutritious needs of not only kids but also yours too.
Here are some tips to help:
- Plan ahead: It’s easier to eat healthy when you have a plan in place. Take some time each week to plan out your meals and snacks. This will help you stay on track and avoid unhealthy options. If you feel overwhelmed to change your whole diet, start with one meal. Like, challenge yourself to eat a nutritious dinner for one week. And build upon that habit.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water can help prevent fatigue and maintain energy levels.
- Get your kids and partner involved: Encourage your kids to help you prepare meals and snacks. This will not only teach them about healthy eating, but it will also make them more likely to try new foods.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand: Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole-grain crackers. This will make it easier to grab a healthy snack when you’re on the go. And it’s equally important to clear your pantry of all the unhealthy packet foods or sugary items, as this can really play with your motivation to eat healthy.
- Make it fun: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Try new recipes and experiment with different flavors and ingredients. Get creative in the kitchen and make healthy eating a fun experience for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. My favorites are always the meals that I can prepare quickly, yet tasty.
- Take supplements: Anemia is one contributing factor to tiredness. If your hemoglobin level is low, consider including iron-rich food in your diet. I started feeling energetic on a daily basis once I started taking a multivitamin for women consistently. Today’s lifestyle and agriculture practices are such that it’s easy to miss out on the important nutrients our body needs. Hence try to evaluate what your body might be lacking with the help of your practitioner and buy supplements accordingly.
3. Tiredness due to the physical demands of motherhood
The physical demands of motherhood can be exhausting, as mothers often spend long hours on their feet, carrying and lifting their children, and performing other physical tasks.
Mothers are constantly on the go with taking care of kids, doing the housework, errands, appointments, etc. with not enough time for rest.
This itself is exhausting and we don’t always have the mood to work the same every day. After all, every human being wants rest and relaxation, and time for self.
Motherhood duties are relentless and there is never an end to it. Public holidays or Sundays don’t mean anything for mom’s chores.
The only exceptions you get are when there is someone to take care of the kids for some time. But unless you have constant help, not everyone can afford such luxuries all the time.
So here are some tips for tired moms to overcome exhaustion due to the constant physical demands:
- Have a schedule: Stick to a schedule for all the house chores and kids’ duties. And remember to schedule a time to relax. It’s a must! And yes, you have to schedule it for it to happen. Even if it’s for 10-20 minutes, it will really be worth it.
- Meal plan: Making meals every day will result in lots of cooking and cleaning every day. As a result, the majority of your day will be spent like this. But planning ahead saves a lot of time, and a lot of mental space too. Check out this post on how to start meal planning as a beginner. And also, try to stick to meals that are easy to prepare and also are nutritious. One-pot meals are my favorite to make.
- Ask for help: Mothers should not be afraid to ask for help from their spouses, family members, friends, or community resources. This can include asking for help with childcare, household tasks, or meal preparation.
- Engage in physical activity: Regular exercise can help boost energy levels and reduce stress. You can try to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, such as taking a walk with their child or attending a fitness class. This can seem counterintuitive. But often, lack of physical activity is a reason for lethargy and tiredness. If you can invest at least 20 minutes a day in physical activity, it will give you more energy to tackle your chores. If you have no energy for lifting weights or doing HIIT, a simple walk outside is enough to pump up your energy levels. The neurochemicals released while exercising uplift your mood which can also be beneficial for mental health problems.
II. Mom’s tiredness due to Mental and Emotional aspects
I think the emotional and mental load of motherhood is not talked about enough.
Before becoming a mom, I knew there would be so many things to take care of, but I could never imagine the weight of the mental load I would be carrying with me.
A mom’s mind is always bustling with thoughts about her family, work, home, and other commitments.
Like what to cook, or issues regarding kids, the health of the family, etc.
When the brain never switches off, it’s normal to feel super tired because you are dealing with this along with all the other physical demands of motherhood.
Along with the physical chores, there is a lot of invisible mental load that we all go through, like:
- Feeling paralyzed by choices
- Worrying about the impact of your actions on your child
- Feeling you are not a perfect parent to your child
- Constant guilt of not spending enough time with kids because you are also a working mom
- Fear of judgment from family and friends (if you think they get too much screen time or eat too many chocolates)
- Having to sacrifice your needs and wants for kids and then worry about missing out on life
- Worries that you are not good enough as that Instagram mom who always packs colorful and balanced lunch boxes for her kids and has assigned their kids to numerous classes
- Dealing with conflicting information from different sources so much that you don’t know what you should do anymore
- Anticipating and planning the needs of everyone all the time while ignoring your own
- Feeling guilty about taking even 5 minutes off because then you are being unproductive and wasting time
- Missing out on milestones of your child since you work outside of the home
- Feeling overstimulated by all the thoughts or constant noise at home(if you are hypersensitive)
- Missing your life before kids and feeling jealous of your single friends
- The desire of wanting to take a break from responsibilities but cannot because then also you will have to plan a lot and coordinate everything
- Overwhelmed when seeing a messy house and not having the time/energy to clean up and beat yourself up for not being clean enough
- The constant desire to excel at work but feeling overwhelmed by all the things you have to do at work and home
- Dealing with the emotional meltdowns of kids in addition to your own mood swings
These are some examples of what goes inside a mom’s mind. So isn’t it natural to feel weighed down by the weight of this mental load?
What is meant by the invisible mental load of motherhood?
The invisible mental load refers to the constant, behind-the-scenes organizing, planning, and problem-solving that mothers often carry in addition to their visible tasks.
This mental load is not easily recognized by others as it pertains to tasks that are not immediately visible.
Mothers are often responsible for the smooth functioning of the household, which can include organizing child care, keeping track of appointments, managing family finances, and coordinating social activities for their children.
In many cases, this mental load is not shared equally between partners, placing a disproportionate amount of the burden on mothers.
This can lead to feelings of stress, exhaustion, and even resentment towards their partners who may not be fully aware of the extent of the mental load being shouldered.
The impacts of the invisible mental load on mothers can be significant and long-lasting. The constant mental multitasking can lead to:
- Increased stress levels: Juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities can cause stress, which can negatively affect overall health and well-being.
- Decreased psychological well-being: The relentless nature of the mental load can take a toll on one’s mental health, leading to increased anxiety or even depression.
- Sleep disturbances: The mental load can lead to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, as the mind tends to remain active with thoughts of unfinished tasks and responsibilities.
- More strain on relationships: Resentment can build up in relationships when one partner feels overwhelmed by the mental load, leading to tension, arguments, and feelings of dissatisfaction.
Recognizing and addressing the invisible mental load of motherhood is crucial for the well-being of both mothers and their families.
The mental load of motherhood can manifest as both physical exhaustion as well as emotional exhaustion. Here are some symptoms to look for:
The physical symptoms of mental overload in mothers might manifest in various ways, including:
- Fatigue: Feeling tired even after a seemingly sufficient amount of rest or sleep.
- Poor sleep: Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep.
- Tension headaches: A continuous, dull ache on both sides of the head, commonly caused by stress.
- Decreased appetite: Loss of interest in eating or skipping meals.
- Body aches: Muscle tension and stiffness, often in the neck, shoulders, and back.
- Frequent illness: A compromised immune system can make mothers more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections.
Emotional symptoms are equally important to identify, as they can have a significant impact on a mother’s well-being and ability to care for her family.
Signs of emotional overload might include:
- Anxiety or worry: Consistent feelings of unease, nervousness, or fear.
- Irritability: An increased tendency to become angry, impatient, or annoyed with others.
- Difficulty concentrating: An inability to focus, stay on task, or make decisions.
- Overwhelm: Feeling as though there are too many tasks to complete, leading to a sense of helplessness or lack of control.
- Sadness or feelings of worthlessness: Low mood or self-esteem, often accompanied by guilt or self-blame.
It is crucial for mothers to recognize these physical and emotional symptoms and take the necessary steps to seek support, adjust their workload, or practice self-care strategies to manage and alleviate the invisible mental load of motherhood.
Strategies for Dealing with the Invisible Mental Load of Motherhood
1. Behavioural Adjustments
Making small behavioral adjustments can also contribute to managing “mom fatigue”. Some of these adjustments include:
- Delegating tasks: Mothers can share responsibilities with their partners or other family members to alleviate the burden of the mental load.
- Setting boundaries: It’s important for mothers to communicate their limits and protect their personal time, even if it’s just a few minutes throughout the day. Make a rule to not do any household chores after a set time at night so that you can relax into the night doing some calm-down activities and get some restful sleep.
- Creating routines: Developing routines can help mothers manage tasks more efficiently, making it easier to stay organized and maintain a sense of control.
- Have an off day: Try to take one day off from all the household chores except for the things you “must” do. Order takeouts, or ask your partner to cook/do child duties on such days.
Incorporating these strategies into their daily lives can enable mothers to better manage the invisible mental load and improve their overall well-being.
2. Increase Support and Understanding
Encouraging family involvement is a key step in addressing the mental load of motherhood and reducing mom guilt.
Open communication with partners and children can help distribute responsibilities more evenly.
By sharing tasks and setting boundaries, mothers can reduce their burden and maintain a healthier mental state.
For example, dividing household chores and childcare duties among family members can contribute to a more balanced environment.
If you feel like you are always stressed out, make a list of all the things that cause you stress and discuss it with your partner.
It helps to share the responsibilities and also get to listen to his point of view on things. If you are a person with overthinking tendencies, getting a different perspective is always helpful.
If it’s not always possible for family members to help, hiring affordable services for cleaning or babysitting can help you relax too.
Seeking professional help is another option for mothers who are struggling with the guilt and shame of not being able to be that ‘perfect mom’ by doing everything.
This could involve talking to a therapist or counselor who specializes in maternal mental health.
These professionals offer a safe space for mothers to express their feelings and receive guidance on coping strategies. Additionally, connecting with support groups made up of other moms experiencing similar challenges can provide valuable insights and encouragement.
3. Focus on Self-Care and Me Time
It is crucial for moms to prioritize self-care and carve out time for themselves in order to maintain balance and well-being.
One effective approach is for mothers to establish a daily self-care routine. This can include activities such as exercising, journaling, or implementing mindfulness techniques.
One effective mindfulness technique I highly recommend doing is meditation. Setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on their breath and be present in the moment can help moms reduce stress and anxiety.
Exercise can boost your mood and energy levels, while journaling can help process emotions and thoughts, and mindfulness techniques can relieve stress.
Speaking from personal experience, journaling is a tool everyone must make use of to deal with stress. Writing down thoughts and feelings related to the overwhelming tasks and worries can help you gain clarity and control over many of the stressful matters.
A simple session of journaling all the thoughts that make you worry or frustrated can do wonders to release those emotions. You can do it on paper or have a separate journal for this.
These days I use Notion for journaling. The tool you use doesn’t matter as long as you do it – be it paper or digital, what matters is that you transfer these thoughts from your brain to a safe space, instead of letting them go in circles and make you frustrated.
Creating boundaries is also crucial for mothers seeking “me time”.
Establishing a specific time each day or week focused solely on personal interests and hobbies can help rejuvenate the spirit. You can indulge in reading, crafting, or practicing a new skill.
It is important for mothers to remember that taking care of themselves is not selfish. Prioritizing self-care and “me time” can ultimately lead to a healthier, happier, and more balanced life for the entire family.
Having a set of tools to help when you feel emotionally overwhelmed is a good idea – like grounding exercises, positive affirmations, visualization exercises, etc.
You can search on YouTube or install mindfulness apps to get guided tracks for such exercises.
IV. Exhaustion due to Lack of Time
If you feel like you are running a race against time all the time, you are bound to feel exhausted because time doesn’t increase proportionally to your responsibilities.
One constant thing that made me overwhelmed all the time was “so much to do and so little time”. In the end, it is enough to make you feel like “you are doing nothing” because you have so much to do.
Well, complaining about lack of time doesnt help. So, what we can do is learn to manage it.
Learning to manage the 24 hours you get a day is a must if you want to get more done in less time.
Here are some tips to manage time well, get more done, and thus feel more energetic.
1. Prioritize your tasks: Make a list of the most important tasks that you need to accomplish each day and prioritize them in order of importance. This will help you focus on the most critical tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
2. Break tasks into smaller steps: If you have a large task to complete, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make the task feel less daunting and help you feel more in control.
For eg: If you want to declutter a room, do it for only 10-20 minutes a day and do the rest tomorrow.
3. Delegate tasks: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members or friends. Delegate tasks that can be done by others, such as grocery shopping or cleaning.
4. Set realistic goals: Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much.
5. Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, read a book, or do something you enjoy to help you relax and feel refreshed.
6. Reduce overwhelm: Analyse your daily and weekly activities and learn to identify which tasks make you the most overwhelmed. Are these tasks avoidable? Avoid the ones you can avoid and free up time and energy there. Avoid overcommitting yourself and saying yes to too many obligations.
7. Form routines: Routines are helpful to reduce the time taken for decision-making. When you do the same thing at the same time, you get to save a lot of time. So, make everything you wanna do consistently a routine so that whatever you wanna do gets done consistently. Form routines for your kids too, so that it sets expectations for them and reduces tantrums and meltdowns.
8. Meal plan: This is a must if you want to manage your time and not feel burnout by constantly cooking and deciding what to cook. Here is an absolute beginner’s guide to start meal planning as a busy mom.
9. Learn to let go: You cannot do everything in a day and sometimes even with meticulous planning, things may not work the way you want to. When things don’t go as planned, learn to let go, relax, and wait for the next fresh start you can get.
My mantra on such days is, “It’s okay, life happens and not every day can be the same. I will start over tomorrow”.
10. Take advantage of technology to simplify tasks, such as online grocery shopping, meal delivery services, online banking, etc. to save time that you need to run errands and thus also free up some energy.
11. Embrace minimalism: Minimalism doesn’t always mean having a “nearly empty” house or counting your belongings. It’s about making choices that reduce clutter physically and mentally. Like deciding not to buy new clothes unless you absolutely need them, or choosing to do only a few activities per day.
12. Make a ‘daily win’ list: It’s easy to focus on what you didn’t get done and stress over it. But when you count the things you have done each day, you will be amazed by the sheer amount of work you get done every day. One of the journaling sessions I like to do is my evening journal session where I write down my daily accomplishments and improvements for the next day. It really helps me to find out where I waste time and thus improve my daily productivity by cutting down on unnecessary tasks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Depleted Mother Syndrome(DMS)?
Depleted mother syndrome is a term used to describe the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion experienced by mothers who have been caring for their children for an extended period of time without adequate support or self-care.
The syndrome is characterized by feelings of overwhelm, irritability, and a sense of being “burnt out.”
Mothers experiencing depleted mother syndrome may also have difficulty sleeping, have a weakened immune system, and experience other physical symptoms such as headaches and digestive issues.
It’s important for mothers to recognize the signs of depleted mother syndrome and prioritize self-care to prevent burnout and maintain their well-being.
This can involve seeking support from family and friends, practicing stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga, and making time for activities that bring joy and relaxation.
Why do I find motherhood so exhausting?
Motherhood can be exhausting for a variety of reasons.
One of the most common reasons is the physical demands of caring for young children, which can include sleep deprivation, constant physical activity, and the stress of managing multiple responsibilities.
Mothers may also feel emotionally drained from the demands of managing a household, dealing with their own emotions, and providing emotional support to their children.
Additionally, mothers who work outside the home may struggle to balance work and family responsibilities, leading to increased stress and fatigue.
It’s important for mothers to prioritize self-care, seek support from family and friends, and communicate their needs to their partners or support systems to prevent burnout and maintain their well-being.
Why moms are more tired than dads?
Moms are often more tired than dads because they tend to take on more of the physical and emotional labor associated with parenting.
This can include tasks such as breastfeeding, changing diapers, and managing household chores, as well as providing emotional support to their children.
Mothers also tend to be more involved in their children’s daily routines, such as getting them ready for school, helping with homework, and attending extracurricular activities.
Additionally, societal expectations and gender roles often place a greater burden on mothers to prioritize their children’s needs over their own, leading to increased stress and fatigue.
While fathers are increasingly taking on more responsibilities in parenting, the unequal distribution of labor between mothers and fathers can still contribute to mothers feeling more tired and burnt out.
It’s important for both parents to communicate openly about their needs and share parenting responsibilities to prevent burnout and maintain their well-being.
What does motherhood burnout look like?
Motherhood burnout can manifest in different ways, but some common signs and symptoms include
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Loss of interest in activities that once you used to enjoy
- Neglecting self-care
- Having trouble focusing and completing tasks, and feeling forgetful or scattered
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Feeling resentful towards your partner or children, and feeling like you’re doing everything alone
Here is a helpful post on 10 must-try tips to cure mom burnout and never get burned out again
Is it normal to always be tired as a mom?
It’s not uncommon for moms to feel tired, especially during the early years of parenting when children require a lot of physical and emotional energy. However, feeling constantly exhausted is not normal and can be a sign of burnout or an underlying health issue.
There are several factors that can contribute to fatigue, including lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress, and hormonal imbalances.
Moms who are breastfeeding may also experience fatigue due to the extra energy required to produce breast milk. In some cases, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, or thyroid disorders can also cause persistent fatigue.
If you’re experiencing persistent fatigue, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying health issues.
You can also take steps to improve your energy levels by prioritizing sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and practicing stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness or yoga.
It’s also important to seek support from family and friends and to share parenting responsibilities to prevent burnout and maintain your well-being.
In conclusion, being a mom is a rewarding but challenging job that can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
However, by implementing some of the tips mentioned in this blog, such as prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and simplifying your daily routine, you can regain your energy and feel more balanced.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not only beneficial for you but also for your family.
So, take a deep breath, give yourself some grace, and try incorporating these tips into your daily life to feel more energized and refreshed as a tired mom.
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