Your baby is crying, the dishes are piling up, dirty nappies are overflowing from the bin, and you feel like you have been awake for months. It’s completely normal to feel exhausted and burnt out, especially when you have little ones that soak up every last ounce of energy you have. There’s a reason there are so many memes out there pointing out that parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever do on the least amount of sleep you’ve ever had! In those early weeks and months coping with exhaustion can feel impossible and you’ll spend A LOT of time thinking about when you can next shut your eyes. What’s important in those moments is to try and remind yourself that this is just temporary and that sleep will return to your life once more…eventually. But that doesn’t make it any easier we know, so here are a few tips and trick to keep under your sleeve.
Prioritising sleep is so important for your health and for your focus. Napping whenever you can is essential in those early days; when your baby is down for a nap, you should do your best to nap as well – the housework can wait! Giving yourself some time to rest can prevent you from burning out and can making coping with tiredness a tad easier. Parenting is a marathon, not a race, remember to always check-in with yourself.
Healthy eating and drinking habits are also important; having a balanced diet can make you more focused and promotes brain activity which improves your tiredness. Choose nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals and keep healthy snacks readily available to provide sustained energy throughout the day. If you need a little pick-me-up, try drinking green tea, it’s full of antioxidants and also has a small amount of caffeine, (just try not to drink it before bed or it might keep you awake).
Don’t forget to exercise as well, a 20-30 minute walk or workout can help you feel less worn out (you can even do it with your baby in the pram). Getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine can really work wonders (and the fresh air could help your baby sleep better too!) so, if the weather calls for it. get on out there and soak up some rays – while wearing sunscreen, of course!
While socialising may seem like the last thing you feel like doing when you’re in the midst of coping with exhaustion, sometimes it can be the thing to put a little pep in your step! If you are able to join a parents group it can be a wonderful way to connect with other people who are experiencing the same things as you. The camaraderie can not only be a big energy booster but, who knows, you may even discover some great tips for helping your bub get more sleep so that you can too.
Ask for help – and accept it too! If you are able to, don’t hesitate to ask for help from family and friends. They can assist with household chores, cooking meals, or simply providing support, allowing you to get some much-needed rest. Communicate and share parenting responsibilities with your partner, if you have one, or other trusted family members. Divide tasks such as nappy changes, feeding, and comforting the baby to lighten the load.
Remember that you don’t have to be the “world’s best parent”; you just have to be good enough for your baby. All your baby needs from you is love, care and food – and extra cuddles never go astray. You might get frustrated at times, and that’s fine, it’s normal, and it shows you are working hard and running on empty. But your baby doesn’t care about a clean house, fancy toys or activities. Reminding yourself that you’re doing your best, can often be the best way to avoid exhaustion. If you keep pushing yourself, you won’t be able to provide for your child.
Be open to accepting support when you need it; you cannot expect yourself to do everything. Try and find a trusted person that you feel comfortable being able to lean on. They can give you tips and advice to better yourself to make you feel less tired. Focus on the positive; it’s all worth it in the end because it’s for your baby and your family. As with anything, don’t forget to laugh, finding humour can be a cure as you release some tension, improving your tiredness. You will find the light at the end of the sleep-deprived tunnel, you are doing amazing and don’t forget it!