It’s been another night of 5 hours of interrupted sleep. Or less. Your baby has recently discovered the joys of being awake for the day at 5:30am. You’ve had 2 cups of coffee but you’re still in a total sleep-deprived haze.
And you just have to keep going. All day long.
What’s a mama to do to get through the day?
Three Simple Ways to Survive New Mama Exhaustion
1. Nap (or at least rest) While Your Baby Naps.
It’s advice given all the time, so why is it so hard to follow? Really, why?
Take a moment to reflect on it. What is getting in the way of you taking the time to lie down when your baby is sleeping? Be honest with yourself.
Are you rushing around doing the dishes, vacuuming, and putting in another load of laundry while your baby sleeps?
I hear you.
It’s really tough to get all the chores done when you have a baby to look after.
I’ll let you in on a little secret though— it’s so much easier to get them done quickly and efficiently when you feel well-rested!
One of my biggest recommendations to new mamas is to place your own self-care second (after the needs of your baby, but before ANYTHING else!)
When your cup is full (or full-ish, let’s be realistic here), you will be So much better able to take care of everything else- the chores, other relationships, everything.
And looking a little deeper, how come you feel you need to take care of everything around the house BEFORE you relax?
Many mamas (and even women who aren’t moms) feel like their worth is tied to what they do rather than who they are. They feel like they need to do, do, do to prove themselves worthy of their own existence.
It’s a hard way to live, mamas. And it’s so not true!!
If you find yourself caught in this trap, notice it when it’s happening. Then go look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself “I am worthy because I am _______ (kind, funny, caring, loyal, etc.)
You might feel a little silly at first, but just watch how it shifts your view of yourself to valuing who you are rather than what you do…
And then when you’ve made it past whatever is getting in the way for you, for heaven’s sake, get some sleep, mama. Sleep is such a fundamental part of self-care. You ARE worthy of it.
2. Do Something Fun.
Even after you’ve had a nap, you might still feel like you’re still dragging your feet through the day. Sometimes boredom and lack of excitement can make you feel tired (and it’s totally ok to admit you feel bored and understimulated sometimes being with your baby, especially if you’re a first-time mom!)
Do you remember what you loved to do before you had your baby? What is truly energizing for you? What activity really brightens your day?
Then do it.
It doesn’t need to take long. Although it might look a little different now.
Try putting on your favourite song and dance with your baby in your arms.
Or get out your guitar and play a couple of songs to your baby.
Or phone up your best friend and chat (on speakerphone while your baby plays or while feeding him his lunch).
Or get out your yoga mat and do some poses with your baby beside you (with some toys to entertain her).
Most of the time babies will enjoy these things (and if not, try again later!)
And they will also love having a happier mama.
3. Share, Share, Share.
Sometimes feeling tired can be a lot about feeling weighed down by heavy feelings. And new motherhood can be filled with a roller-coaster ride of big emotions!
You’re full of love for your new baby one moment, and mourning the loss of your pre-baby life the next. Or you’re super frustrated with your partner for not contributing as much as you think he should with baby care.
So. Many. Big. Feelings.
If you hold onto all your feelings, they will start to feel heavy and zap your energy.
How do you release them and lighten the load?
Talk to your husband/partner, a trusted friend or a family member about how you’re really feeling.
Even writing down how you feel in a journal can be cathartic.
Try to keep it about yourself rather than blaming someone else for how you feel (use “I” statements, ie: I’m feeling really sad right now).
Also be aware to not “dump” your problems onto another person. Don’t just complain, take responsibility for how you will go forward so the other person isn’t left worrying about you.
Share, and let go. You will feel lighter and more energized by authentic connection with another human being (an adult one who can talk back to you. Very important.)
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by big feelings after sharing them with family or friends (or you just don’t feel comfortable doing that), find a counsellor to work with. Asking for help is a sign of courage, not weakness! You can find out more about Blossoming Mother Counselling’s services here. I’ve got lots of experience helping mamas just like you to navigate the ups and downs of new motherhood. You can contact me directly here.
Katherine Aucoin, Motherhood Counsellor
Hi Mamas! My name is Katherine and I'm a motherhood counsellor and a mom to two little boys. I'm here to offer tools, insights and support to help you be the best mom you can be for your children AND yourself.