Mothers and Fatigue

By Karen Brundieck
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Find ways to cope by making sleep a non-negotiable within the demands of motherhood.

Fatigue can be a problem for mothers — not just those with infants. The demands of motherhood may leave you with little time for yourself, including time to rest.

When you are fatigued and feeling overwhelmed, make yourself a priority. Visit a doctor so he can rule out physical causes of fatigue, such as anemia or thyroid problems. Once you’ve been assured that your fatigue is a lack of sleep, treat rest time as a nonnegotiable.

If you’re a mother of one child and he is napping, then rest yourself. Turn off the TV, ringer on the phone and radio and do nothing else while your child sleeps.

The traditional idea of going to bed and sleeping a full eight hours may be as far from reality as flying to Neptune. If you’re the mother of more than one, you must look for opportunities to rest. When that rare moment comes and your children are napping, don’t wash dishes, catch up on the laundry or start dinner. Give yourself permission to take a 10-minute nap.

Sometimes you must arrange your schedule so you can rest. When your youngest is sleeping, have your older children spend quiet time in their rooms. Train them to stay in their rooms by putting a baby gate across the doorway, if need be. Give them books, play soft music to listen to and set a timer. Let them know they are not allowed out of their rooms until the timer goes off.

If you know other mothers who are in the same bleary-eyed condition, trade baby-sitting so each of you can get a nap without children. This can be during an afternoon, or even overnight if nursing isn’t an issue. If Dad isn’t working the next morning, he can stay up with the baby and let you get rest. Even getting one or two nights of sleep a week can do wonders.

As hard as it is, take care of yourself in other ways, too. It is difficult to eat well when you are tired or don’t care, so choose foods that will nurture your body — not those with empty calories. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, which can increase your fatigue.

Even though it may be the last thing you want to do, make time to exercise. Take the kids on a nature walk, or let them explore your yard. They can hunt for treasures and talk about the leaves or rocks they find. Their search keeps them occupied, and the autumn air will revive you.

This is a difficult season in a mother’s life, and if you have several children, it may seem that you will never arrive at the blessed state where they all go to bed and sleep through the night. By using creativity, you can make it through this stage and feel better able to cope with the demands of motherhood.

Results of fatigue:

• Emotional

  Hopelessness
  Depression
  Disconnection from others around you

• Physical

  Lack of energy

• Cognitive

  Difficulty concentrating
  Irritability

Copyright © 2006 by Karen Brundieck. Used by permission.

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