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I was diagnosed with "slam dunk narcolepsy" according to my neurologist at 26 years old. This was a huge turning point in my overall health. I finally had a reason for why I was so exhausted even after sleeping 12 hours straight and more importantly a way to treat it. With medication I was finally able to get restful sleep, this better equipped my body to fight off illness and heal more readily. Bottomline, I felt like superwoman!!! The next 6 years of my life were the most productive ever and I couldn't wait to fulfill my dream of becoming a Mom. I knew pregnancy and motherhood would be challenging yet, you cannot truly know how much being a parent will test you physically, mentally, and emotionally until that day comes. It has become a ongoing joke that Moms are tired all the time and need to run coffee intravenously. The thing is coffee is not good for any of us and for me it has little to no effect. I drink it sometimes just trying to trick my brain that it will actually work, but the truth is I could down a large ice coffee and still fall asleep at the wheel! What we really need to be doing is taking better care of ourselves. So here are some ways I stay well rested (most of the time), even in the wake of motherhood.
1) Prioritize Sleep
We should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep, but if you just laughed out loud I get it. Most nights are a choice between extra sleep and some sacred alone time in (gasp) silence. Try challenging yourself to make it a priority for one week. If you give yourself an opportunity to notice the difference, it will be easier to make this choice more consistently.
Set a Realistic Bedtime Goal
Aim for 6 hours and once you commit to doing that consistently add more time when and if possible. Take into account if your child is in a stage where they are up several times a night and go to bed earlier. I know you don’t need me to tell you this, but you’re most likely not doing it. Here’s where I need to be “Mean Mom.” Go to Bed!
Set Screen Time Limits
Yes, this applies to Mamas too! Though it doesn’t feel like it, watching television and scrolling social media are stimulating activities. I fully realize this is your “Me time” so rest assured I am not about to suggest you give it up! Well, at least not completely. Because it is so easy to become lost in the black hole of the internet, I find setting a timer helps bring awareness to how much time has passed. Even if I ignore it for a few snoozes I end up putting the phone down after 40 minutes instead of 2+ hours!
2) Be Prepared
Now to deal with the endless "Mommy Do" list after the baby goes to bed. It is such a juggling act! I have to force myself to let go of things on the daily. I’ve never been a procrastinator and it is hard to only do the most pressing tasks day to day. However, the sooner you learn to let go of perfection and give yourself a break the better! At the same time, I recommend planning ahead whenever possible, so that the must do’s of today’s list are minimized. What can you do that will make life easier during the typical work week? Here are a few things you can do on the weekend to remove a daily task for the entire week.
Make Lunch Sides Ready to Grab
This is a great task for older children or a spouse to assist with because it is virtually impossible to screw up! Cut up fruit for lunches and put them in individual containers, then bag up individual servings of pretzels, veggie sticks, crackers, etc. I always have individual portions of Apple Sauce and Yogurt on hand too.
Plan Outfits for the Week
Do this for yourself as well as the little one(s). Check the weather app and add a few optional shirts, so kids have options to choose from.
This takes effort up front but will save you so much time long term. Make recipe cards that include the list of ingredients and use them to plan out meals for at least one week in advance, then generate your grocery list. Boom, making your grocery list just got ten times easier! Plus no more trying to figure out what to make when you first get home or realizing mid-way through cooking you're out of a key ingredient.
3) Don’t Leave It All Till After Baby Is In Bed
I spent the first couple of years of motherhood focused almost completely on my child’s needs, always leaving my own as the afterthought. Not only was this way of living is SO unhealthy, I came to realize that by catering to my child’s needs first with no regard for my own was ultimately not going to teach her patience or self-respect. Efficiently using my time does not equate to neglecting my little one. In fact, it allows me to be more present during our quality time because I’m not so worried about everything that still needs to get done.
Eat Dinner With Your Little One(s)
As a working Mom with a spouse who is not home for dinner half of the time, this did not happen in my house for years. In the beginning, rushing through the door at 5-5:30 p.m. to feed bottles or baby food was easy. As my daughter got older I found it illogical to make a whole meal when she ate such small amounts and it was easy to feed leftovers or just throw some food together. After putting her to bed, I’d either try to be good and spend a half hour of precious time making dinner or end up crashing on the couch with Cheez-its and diet coke. Around age 2 she started questioning why I wasn’t eating during dinner and I was faced with the reality of the example I was setting. Of course, eating that way was also not good for my health or energy level. Check out my 3 timesaving tips for making healthy dinners and ridiculously easy recipes!
Clean Up Right After Dinner
I know time is tight and you just want some quality time with your little one before bed. Still, instead of running around like a nut after the baby is down, it’s worth taking the 5-10 minutes to clean up the kitchen and prep the main part of lunches for the next day. If you are lucky enough to have an extra set of hands, take turns completing this task while the other person gets baby ready for bed. Cleaning up is a good habit for your child to witness and as they grow they’ll be able to assist. An 18-month-old is capable of delivering dishes to the sink and throwing items in the trash. Don’t forget to thank them for their efforts!
Get Mama Ready For Bed Early
Get into your pajamas, wash your face, take out contacts, etc. I usually change right when I get home, wash my face during bath time, and take out contacts while she brushes her teeth, or whenever there’s a free minute! I feel like an old lady doing this sometimes, but it makes it so much easier to get to bed at a reasonable hour if all this stuff is already done.
4) Make Yourself Sleepy
So, you’ve eaten, kiddo is down, and as much as you need to do for tomorrow is done, but Momma’s mind is racing. Here are a few simple ways to induce shut-eye.
Calm Your Brain
To settle your Mommy do tasks from bouncing all over your brain, take the time to organize a command center so you’re not trying to run everything by memory. Check out 5 Great Tips For Scheduling Your Busy Mom Life for more tips on this! Keep a notepad on the night stand for when you think of something in bed. Post-it notes are great because you can throw them on the car dashboard to remember to run an errand or make a phone call on the commute home. Try not to get out of bed to do something, unless it’s really important or urgent.
Sip On Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is known for its calming and soothing effects on the body, plus it will warm up you up helping to relax your muscles even more. You can sweeten it with a touch of honey and add cinnamon to make it a treat.
Drink Warm Milk
There is a lot of debate as to why this works, some say it’s due to the tryptophan, that amino acid known for making you pass out after Thanksgiving turkey. Others say it’s psychological going back to our newborn days when we were comforted with warm milk. Awe, isn’t that poetic? It’s kind of sweet to bring it full circle as a coping mechanism for the tired Momma. Doesn’t really matter why it works, it’s a trick my Mom used that I will pass down for sure!
Take Unisom Sleep Tabs (Occasionally)
5) Boost Your Energy
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t neglect your own health. Keep up with regular doctor appointments and eat healthy at least 70% of the time. I did not want to believe that eating healthier would really make a difference in my energy and overall health until I forced myself to eat clean for 30 days. I’ll admit one of my motivations was actually to prove it wouldn’t make a difference. Well, Cats and Rats and Elephants, it backfired! I feel so much better on a diet that limits sugar intake. The best part was it was surprisingly not that hard to do. The easiest switches are now the norm for me and I’m definitely feeling better as a direct result.
Fit in Regular Exercise
Fatigue is a vicious cycle. We don’t exercise because we are exhausted, yet exercise is proven to boost energy. This, by far, is my biggest challenge. I have a lot of health challenges and very limited time. Reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy helped enforce the logic that small wins over time can add up to one big victory. You don’t have to run 5 miles every day. Fit in movement during everyday life, i.e. take the stairs, park further away, have a dance party with your little ones, etc. Start small and try to be consistent. Your only competition is yourself. If you can only make time for 15 minutes of exercise, two to three days a week, that is better than not doing anything. Don’t let thinking it’s not enough stop you from doing what you can.
Use Fizz Sticks
These are my secret weapon. Free samples of these literally sat in my kitchen cabinet for over a year, because I assumed something natural could never compare to my prescription stimulants. It was only after letting a co-worker have them and receiving positive feedback that my curiosity peaked. I finally pushed my preconceived notions aside and tried one. I was floored to experience a jolt of energy. Now I have one every morning with tea, keep a few in my bag for pick-me-ups, and try not to kick myself too hard for not taking advantage of these sooner! The best thing about them is, unlike coffee and energy drinks, they are actually good for you. They are packed with antioxidants and B vitamins, plus the ECGC (Green tea extract) boosts metabolism.
Check out all the benefits in this product sheet.
To Pregnant and Breastfeeding Moms:
I know countless women who have safely used this product throughout pregnancy. The recommended daily amount of caffeine for pregnant women varies from 150 mg to 300 mg. Due to the small amount of caffeine (50 mg) in each Fizz Stick the warning label, “Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding” is required. Energy levels are often most depleted for pregnant and breastfeeding women, so I urge you to take the ingredient list to a medical professional and make an informed decision.
So, minus the prescription medication that puts me equal at best to a "normal" individual, that's it. That's how I manage to survive my insane commute and crazy schedule. Hopefully, at least one of these tips is a new suggestion for you to try!
How do you muster the energy to make it through the day, week, month? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for Reading!
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Hi! I'm Nicki, a full time working Mama in a fast-paced male dominated industry. I blog for a creative outlet and to help moms like you make this parenting journey a little easier!
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