There is no way anyone could have prepared you for the exhaustion you feel now that you are a parent, am I right?
Nowadays you dread the start of a new day. Again dragging your feet through the thick fog of exhaustion; wondering when, if ever, you will feel rested again.
But the hardest part?
The real challenge?
Trying to be a nice mommy when you can barely recite your full name.
It’s just so hard to be present and patient with your kids.
Forget present and patient. It’s hard not to wrip into your kids just for blinking!
Because when you’re short on sleep, your brain simply can’t operate at an optimal level. And that means that you need to think longer and harder to execute the most simplest of tasks (think finding your keys or reheating last night’s dinner), forget about the more complicated tasks that require your kids’ cooperation.
But how can you contend with your kids’ endless needs and demands when you can hardly see straight?
Well, if you want to be kind to your kids, think of how you can be kind to yourself first.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Think about what you need in order to make it through the day without saying or doing something you regret. When you’re tired, and your brain is not operating optimally, the smallest, most innocent move from one of your kids is likely to set you off. So before you get started with your day, think about what YOU need in order to do your best. Stop and take a moment to consider your state of mind and body and intentionally decide what changes you’re going to make in order to compensate for your exhaustion. Think nap, mother’s helper, take out; whatever it takes to help you pay less attention to the practical needs of your kids and more attention your and their emotional needs.
2. Adjust your expectations of yourself. Let’s be realistic, you’re not at your best when you’re short on sleep, so stop thinking that you can do everything the same. Notice your exhaustion and try to accept that that is where you’re at in the moment. Respect your limitations and don’t expect more than you can actually achieve.
3. Adjust your expectations of your kids. Sometimes when we’re super tired, we mistakenly think that our kids can recognise our limitations and expect them to act accordingly. But let’s face it, they’re kids. Which means that they’re unlikely to notice your need for peace and quiet. So don’t be surprised if they continue to make the same demands of you. Try to acknowledge what they want and then admit that today you’re limited and offer an alternative.
4. Do less. That’s it- just do less. The laundry can wait, the dishes will be there tomorrow and you can call that person back. Your job is to conserve your physical and mental energy so that you can be as kind and caring to those who need you, despite your exhaustion.
5. Say less. I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired, I can really lose it and if I’m not paying attention, some really nasty things can escape from my mouth. So when I’m tired, I consciously try to say less and focus inward, paying more attention to recognising and attending to my immediate needs. Because when you care for yourself, you’re better equipped to care for others- even if you’re dead tired and irritable.
Seems simple. But I know it’s not.
Isn’t it funny (not), that when you’re to tired to blink, you actually need to work harder to not lose your cool.
But, if you accept that you are operating on a different wave length and adjust yourself accordingly, you can make it through to your next sleep with as little damage as possible.
Now it’s your turn:
How do you manage your interactions with your kids in the face of exhaustion?
Share your wisdom and leave a comment below.