Mum Life: Why I’m So Tired

When I became a mum, the standard answer to the question “How are you?” meant one thing, and one thing only.

“Tired”

That became boring after, ooh, three years or so, and so I started to diversify my answers. “Great! Still not sleeping through the night!”, or “Fabulous! As soon as she stops waking at 5am…”.

The sleep, oh the sleep, it’s always about the sleep.

Recently, to my surprise, the children have actually started to sleep. I KNOW. From 8pm (ish) to 6.30am (if I’m lucky) they’re in the land of nod. Something I thank my lucky stars for.

AND YET I’M STILL TIRED. What’s going on with that, motherhood?

I started thinking about why the hell I was always so tired. And it became simple. Removing the single parent thing from the occasion – although how lovely would it be to have someone else to kick out of bed once or twice to tend to the cherubs at 6am? – there is actually one big reason why I could fall asleep at any given moment.

It’s because I am on the go ALL THE TIME. Even when I’m asleep.

Take yesterday, for example. I woke up early, and was immediately playing iPad referee between two children who wanted to listen to the highly regarded LEGO song ‘Everything Is Awesome’ (worst earworm ever, don’t try it). After cajoling them to clean and dress themselves – which basically involves shrieking “Teeth! Hair! Clothes! Coats! Spellings! Bags!” over and over again – I dropped them off at school and nursery.

I worked as soon as I got home from the school run at 9.30am, stopping every so often for a break to bleach the kitchen sink, empty the dishwasher or pop another load of washing on. Pure luxury, am I right? Lunch was leftovers and the children’s dad took them out for tea so I had a couple of extra hours to work in the afternoon. I stopped working at the late hour of 10pm because I’m still catching up on Elfie being off school for a day last week.

It. Never. Stops.

why are mums tired

And even when it does stop, I don’t stop. If I’m not working or driving little people around, I’m picking up bits of Buzz Lightyear or Tyrannasaurous Rex models, stepping on LEGO or wondering whatever happened to that Minnie Mouse jigsaw puzzle because I just found the piece with her ear on. And if I’m not picking up I’m washing, meal planning, hoovering, chauffeuring, emailing, bill paying, brainstorming, cooking, shopping.

I think relentless is the word you’re looking for.

And then there’s what happens when you’re asleep. Or rather, doesn’t happen, because I swear, sleep doesn’t feel as good as it used to. Any little noise, any middle of the night stir from the bedroom next door and I’m sitting up, adrenaline pumping at the sound of the imaginary burglars at the children’s window.

Getting back to sleep when your heart’s beating that fast is pretty tricky, so instead I use the early morning hours wisely and lie awake worrying about the terrorism threat, benefit cuts or Brexit.

But if the children do sleep in? It’s not the treat you might think.

If they’re quiet past 6.30am my mind starts spinning, wondering why they’re not awake, what must be wrong with them to keep them asleep for so long. I’m in their bedroom like a shot, holding my hand underneath their little sleepy noses to feel each breath until they sense my presence and wake up wondering what on earth their funny mummy is up to now.

Whoops.

I’d say I look forward to the teenage years, but I fully expect there’ll be more of the same. If my two are anything like me they’ll be socialising with their friends til late, then expecting the mum taxi to pick them up. When I was a teen my poor mother used to go to bed and set an alarm, waking to collect me at midnight from Wetherspoons in her PJs, while I enjoyed an Archers and Lemonade buzz and cheesy chips. Good times.

I used to take advantage of the morning nap while the kids were at school and, thank goodness I work for myself, because I reckon that may be pretty frowned upon in an office. I try to power through these days though; there’s too much work to be done in my four 6-hour days anyway, and if I work all evening when will I find time to catch up with Hank Moody, my boyfriend substitute?

Yes, tiredness is a feeling I’ve grown to know, if not love. Embracing the fact I’ll mostly be shattered for the next 15 years I shall focus my daytime hours on other things – like finding the perfect under-eye concealer for those shopping bags, or the best facial oil to fake an 8 hour sleep glow.

We may be knackered but at least we have the John Lewis Beauty Hall, right?

14 Comments
  1. Amen!!!! I was wondering why my cat didn’t sit on me, then I sat down and realised, I don’t think apart from sleep I’d actually sat down for about 7 days. And guess what? I fell asleep. Keep on keeping on, with mascara ????

    1. Hahah, YES! Sitting down, at least when not frantically typing at a laptop, what is that?!

      Send any decent mascara recommendations my way. My eyes are permanently half-closed!

  2. I too have recently felt tired of being tired! Went to see Max at the newport pagnell nutrition shop, ‘max help me!!’ i wailed :o) so now im on some multi vitamins. Wondering if it’s an age thing? Wondering if I’ll ever feel rested again!

    I hear and empathise with you xxx

  3. Tell me about it – I’m exhausted, both physically and mentally and have even taken to power napping on the train (seats permitting) to try and feel less shattered

  4. The one thing you’ve not mentioned in this post is what a great job you’re doing! Parenting is hard, bloody hard, give yourself a pat on the back and an extra browse in Space NK ????

  5. I have been constantly tired now for about eight years. And I think you have hit the nail on the head it is all because I am switched on constantly. Both my kids slept through from about two or three months and don’t generally wake up much in the night. But I sleep so lightly these days. Always dreading hearing any cough or splutter coming from their rooms. And don’t get started on how much I hate it when I hear the bathroom light go on in the middle of the night. I automatically think someone is in there being unwell. God forbid they just need a wee. And it is the same during the day. It feels like my life is a contstant risk assessment excercise sometimes! So I am either worn out from having a big day out, or a day of ferrying children around to various clubs, play dates, school, parties etc. Or I am worn out just from the enormous responsibility of keeping my children safe and happy all day! (Or I am shattered because I went out with girls for a couple of Saturday night drinks and accidentally found myself not getting home until 2am! But that is another story.)
    I know I am a bit of a worrier but I bet I am not the only person the feel like this!

  6. When did life become more about surviving when living? I don’t have kids but I live alone and there is never something I don’t have to do. I am constantly knackered to and just struggle to find the time to do stuff. I used to get weirdly motivated to clean at 11pm at night, which then meant I was up until about 2am and so now I fight that urge, but with forcing myself to go to bed at 11pm the house is just a state!

    Grrr

  7. The ‘Everything Is Awesome’ reference made me smile. I don’t think us women ever truly switch off, there’s always something demanding our attention… I hope you get some quality rest soon. x

  8. I feel ya..I’m constantly tired. I feel like I spend the whole week chasing my tail it’s exhausting! To make matters worse my house is still constantly messy and I have washing coming out if my ears! Sigh! Who knew being a ‘grown up’ would be do tough!! Xx

  9. It’s like you read my mind Alice. It never ends and I’m only 6 months and three weeks in…I’ve never known tiredness like it. It’s endless, it’s relentless and it’s overwhelming. At the end of the day, usually when I’m cleaning bottles ready for the next day, I think back to the before baby time…the amount of time I had then, the freedom, how I used to *think* I was tired then. There is always something to do, there is always something to think or worry about. Thankfully I’ve got a little girl who makes my heart so full so I keep telling myself that I’ll get used to feeling this tiredness! x

  10. SO tired!!!!!! I thought that the end of the baby stage would mean that I would be full of life again but sadly not! I am so tired each night I feel as though I ran a marathon!! Great post xx

  11. I’m just going to print this and hand it out to everyone who asks how I am and doesn’t have kids yet. You’ve nailed it! Xx

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