Ramblings On Tiredness And Work That May Or May Not Make Sense


When you become a mum, you learn how to be tired. There are the different sorts of tired; that hazy newborn stage when you’re up all night and are urged to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ so end up zoned out in front of Jeremy Kyle while you feed the baby. The tiredness in these weeks meant I don’t remember those days save for lots of sofa and TV, but at least there was minimal pressure to get out of my pyjamas all day.

Then there’s the tiredness you get with a slightly older baby who just doesn’t want to sleep through the night. The incessant nights of never sleeping more than two hours in a row, resulting in a mama who can get up, comfort her baby back to sleep and crawl back in her own bed without even realising she’s woken up.

Next you’re presented with the toddler who considers 5.30am a lie-in. Yet you can’t go to bed when she does because, you know, those box sets won’t watch themselves and if you don’t keep those eyes open til at least 9pm you won’t get any alone time whatsoever.

But these days, oh these days I have the single-working-mum tiredness. And that my friends is something else altogether.


We’re out of the house and on our way to my mum/nursery by 7.15am so I’m required to be out of bed and on my way to dressed by 6am. That, my friends, still hurts like a punch in the face each and every day. As one who has never been a morning person I spend the first fifteen minutes of each day practicing my sailor swearing and wondering how much it would hurt to break a bone. Because at least then I’d get to go back to bed.

The upshot of this is that by the time I get to the train station at 8am I am pretty much fully awake and with a full face of make-up on feeling ready to take on the world with a cup of tea that may or may not end up on a stranger (sorry, man on the 8.22 to Euston on Monday). This feeling of world conqueror would never come to me until at least 10am in the old days, so there you go – I now have two more hours each day to make a difference. Boom!

This doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes enjoy a little sleep on the train though. Never underestimate the restorative qualities of a 30 minute upright power nap. Unless you end up in a town fifty miles away from yours on a Sunday evening because you fell asleep on a kind stranger’s shoulder… never again.

Once I’m at work I’m surprised to find out that my job requires a fair bit of thought; deep thinking about strategies, statistics, results, proposals. I can’t zone out, can’t sleep with my eyes open, can’t watch Millionaire Matchmaker. Welcome to the real world. There are meetings and presentations that require intelligent input and by the time 5.30pm rolls around (HOMETIME!) my brain is quite literally spent, devoid of any conversation or leftover intelligence.

All that thinking, it wipes you out. And yesterday I was so knackered from just being ON and THINKING and DOING that I got home, took my bra off (the first thing I do as soon as I walk through the front door at 7.30pm) and had a good productive weep. This single-working-mum thing, it’s so hard. It drains you mentally, physically, even emotionally, until you’re not sure there’s anything left.

But then I thought – who am I doing this for?

I’m doing this because my career is super important to my family; my children rely on me as the breadwinner in the house so it’s crucial I work hard. I’m doing this to show them how important it is to work hard so they can do a job you love and get paid well for it. And I’m doing it to show them that while life is not a walk in the park you can find happiness in hard graft and success.

I might be falling over from tiredness but for those little people I am setting the best example I know how. And you know what? I’ve never been happier than now: I’m doing it, I’m making a difference.

Now can someone tweet me at 11pm and tell me to turn off Orange Is The New Black?

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  1. Saskia (Songs, Silliness and Such) wrote:

    It’s amazing how much sleep you can miss out on and still function isn’t it?! Reading this though I think I have it pretty easy… keep on keeping on, your clearly setting a great example, and from what I’ve read have great taste in TV! I NEED to watch Orange is the New Black – its EVERYWHERE! xx

    Posted 6.19.14 Reply
  2. Margarita wrote:

    I totally understand you, sometimes a good cry is all you need to pick up and carry on with life. However exhausting it might be.. that’s what multiple espressos per day are for!

    Posted 6.19.14 Reply
  3. Steph wrote:

    Oh Alice! I know that tiredness and I’m a dab hand at the weeping from sheer exhaustion. Sending you huge hugs over cyberspace. At times it can be sooo painful – the juggling act of motherhood and stupid hours at work. And the fact that you’re managing it as single mum blows my mind.
    I have the occasional moment where I wonder what I’m doing (usually at about midnight when I’m marking a mountain of essays) but the good absolutely outweighs the exhausting – personally I’m much happier when I work and my kids need a happy mum. xx

    Posted 6.19.14 Reply
  4. Sarah wrote:

    Thank you for writing this. I often think that the only people who will understand how mentally, physically and emotionally spent I am sometimes are other single working mums. Although I find myself in a position I did not choose or expect to be in, I am proud of the example I am setting my daughter. My biggest problem is turning the tv off and most nights don’t get into bed before 12. But I have to have my ‘me time’ and that typically doesn’t start until after 10. There’s a lot to be said for a good cry. You are doing a great job xx

    Posted 6.19.14 Reply
  5. This is a powerful post that I felt compelled to read all the way through (despite constant interruptions!) I can’t imagine how tough it must be when the buck always stops at you. I’ve started work at all hours of the day (nightshifts, 7am starts in the office in Cyprus) but the sound of a 6am start still makes me shudder, but hey it’s Friday and every day is a small victory.

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  6. Mummytobande wrote:

    Oh God what would we do without coffee.?
    Sometimes I worry that Sainsbury’s will run out and that will truly be the thing that tips me over the edge……Coffee is your friend as is a healthy dose of humour – I can’t believe the things I get wrong and just have to smile through.
    Today was non-school uniform at school – I forgot. So in an attempt to not embarrass my child I hid behind a tree in the forest to take off my top to fashion a new outfit for her…while I did my jacket up over my bra and styled it out in the playground……..the shame!

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  7. Mumatwork wrote:

    This is exactly my life – except in November last year I opted to get an Au Pair. This has made such a difference to my life, and my primary school aged girls!

    I pat myself on the back each night when I get into bed, for remembering to pay for school trips, to have understood and helped with homework. To have ordered Ocado delivery for 6am tomorrow, because forgot to get bread and milk for breakfast and packed lunches on the way home from work, etc. etc….

    I survive on chocolate :-)

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  8. HerbsandHags wrote:

    It gets easier. It becomes your new norm. At some stage you’ll just accept it as normal life and you’ll be very suspicious of any suggestion that you change it because it works so well for you and your children.

    You’ll also get less tired as your children get older and can do more for themselves. It feels great to know you are role-modelling joy in life with or without a partner and the importance of having paid work you enjoy. Good for you, keep on enjoying it and being proud of yourself and making the most of each day. You’re doing grand.

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  9. Cydney (@CydneyHelsdown) wrote:

    haha dito to the orange is the new black reminder, that was me at 12pm last night, oops.

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  10. Lucy wrote:

    Oh Alice…how familiar this sounds. Right down to the Euston bound train (albeit mine in either the 7.50 if my daughter is being the angel I know she really is, the 7.59 if the shoes by the front door aren’t “the right shoes” or the 8.15 if it’s all gone to pot)! Ultimately I’m happier than when I was with her dad but it’s just relentless! I crave those moments in the evening when I finally sit down and watch something that isn’t pink and fluffy. Hang in there, I’m hanging in there with you xx

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  11. Stacy wrote:

    I have to agree with Mumatwork, getting an au pair changed my life. It gets harder when they go to school and you have homework to do and lunch boxes to prepare each evening, along with the countless arts and crafts activities you have to help them prepare. I have had 2 au pairs and both turned out to be so Lovely and amazing with the children. The time I spend with my children now is quality time and I’m not all tired, frazzled and dying to get to my “me time”. Now I’m off to my slice of Orange is the new black.

    Posted 6.20.14 Reply
  12. It’s funny, I’m not a mum yet and I wrote a post the other day about the fear of exhaustion – what I’m most scared of about having children is the exhaustion – how do mums do it? It’s a bit scary, but kind of reassuring that you just do it anyway!


    Posted 6.22.14 Reply
  13. sleepymummy wrote:

    this is MY life. I’ve got two little people, 8 and 1. I’ve just gone back to work full time and as I went to collect the eldest from a club of some sort (can’t remember which, but it’s paid for, so that’s my bit done, right?) I actually closed my eyes to sleep because I know the way and as it’s a straight road I knew I could get some precious shut-eye en route. WTF obviously this is a code red. Sleeping and walking is very basic madness.

    It’s a blur. The baby still wakes, often hourly, the elder child is a law unto himself and my house looks like I’ve been burgled only the burglar has left more crap. BUT, like you, I’m doing it for them and at some point I hope to remember that there’s a me in there who can do more than wipe bums and burn dinners. I’m on my own too, have been since before the youngest even had a gender, but you know what? When they do finally go to bed, the feeling that I’m doing this all by myself is quite something. Well it would be, if I wasn’t so bloody knackered…

    Well done us!

    Posted 6.22.14 Reply
  14. I don’t work, but I do see what you’re saying about the different stages of tiredness. At the moment, I’m in the 4-and-2-year-old, neither-at-school-yet, almost-zilch childcare phase! Am telling myself that this WILL pass….great post, good to hear about life on the other side. Now, switch off that telly and go to bed!

    Posted 6.23.14 Reply
  15. Jenny wrote:

    you are amazing and super woman and I am so proud of you for all that you do. You make it look so easy and you make looking tired look like the new fashion trend so not fair. It was so lovely to see you again this weekend hunny. Love your blog and keep up all the good hard work it’s worth it in the end I promise. You are doing fabulous!!!

    Posted 6.23.14 Reply
  16. Sabine wrote:

    This is a brilliant post Alice and rings true with many working Mums I’m sure.

    I have never felt so physically and emotionally exhausted as I do these days working four long days and juggling it with a toddler (I started a new job when he was just 6 months old). I have a very supportive partner but he works such long hours that often during the week I do feel like a single Mum and it is exhausting. You are doing amazingly and I have so much respect for you, it is admirable you are doing it alone. We get so caught up in guilt about everything as a working mum but the bottom line is we are doing it to give our children a better life :) xx

    Posted 1.17.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment, Sabine! Isn’t the tiredness bonkers? I sometimes think back to what I did with all my spare time sleeping/arsing around doing nothing in my child-free days and the mind boggles. I had so much time to spare back then, I’m confident I could have used it to write an encyclopaedia or solve world peace!! x

      Posted 1.18.16 Reply