Confessions of an Exhausted Mom

Confessions of an Exhausted Mom

Last night, I came home from a meeting and sat on my couch, fatigued by the weight of traffic that had been my companion for two hours. I then walked towards the kitchen and my eyes fell on the empty bottles of dish washing liquid that stood on the kitchen sink. They appeared to mock me, sneeringly hold me in contempt, as if to say, ‘You forgot. Yes, you did. How could you?’

As I gripped the granite counter top and stared at them, tears threatened to spill over. Tears. Over dish washing liquid. I couldn’t believe it had come to this.

This is what an exhausted mom looks like, ladies and gentle folk. It doesn’t matter if you are a mom to an infant, a tween or a teen. It had finally happened, despite my reminders and my checklists and my borderline obsession with all things neat and orderly. I’d managed to forget things, something I hadn’t done in over 35 years of existence.

In short, I’d become the version of the exhausted pigeon that everyone talks about, but nobody admits to, at least not in public.

Confessions of an exhausted mom. Do you feel overwhelmed, tired, dragged down by the routine? I do. I haven't admitted it before, but now that I have, I feel liberated. It's all right to want time for yourself. Really.

I confess it’s taken me a long time to admit this but I can’t do it all. Handling a work-from-home job isn’t easy, especially when you’re also juggling two blogs, household chores, the cooking and cleaning, school reminders, parenting a tween and trying to fit in an exercise routine and daily reading together with working on a long-pending memoir that hasn’t seen the light of editing day in nearly six months.

But, I’ve been trying. I have.

I make checklists.

I set aside blocks of time to spend on each task.

I tried bullet journal-ing my way through the week.

I gently and firmly put off checking e-mail, responding to texts and taking phone calls till later in the day.

And while it’s all helped in its own way, the fatigue still crept up on me. Do you know why?

I’m a fixer. I want to fix things. All the freaking time. I want to ensure things are done just right. It’s something I’m born with and try as I might, I haven’t been able to shake it off completely.

Until this week.

I’ve been waking up every morning before 5 am. I do it because I want to start the day on a positive note, among the peace and quiet of the dawn hours. I start by meditating. It’s been going great so far and I am on day 13 of meditation, as we speak.

However, I’ve also tried to start and stick to an exercise routine and am failing miserably at it. I have no stamina by the time 7 am swings around. Two hours is what I need to prep breakfast, partly prep for lunch and also make food for my daughter to carry to school every day. The really weird part is now I wake up without an alarm at 4.15! The body clock has kicked in and I can’t sleep past 4.30 a.m. So while the day begins on a calm note, it doesn’t stay that way.

By 8 am, I am physically tired and in no shape to exercise. By 9.30 I have to start working and that means I have to finish other tasks before that as well.

So, my problem? I don’t get enough sleep. And it kills me to see updates and pictures of other moms who are cracking the fitness regimen like superwomen, while I just about try to keep my eyelids open through the day.

This isn’t made any easier by the fact that I now have a tween in the house. You think the toddler years were tough? Oh boy, get ready for this phase. Every defiant expression and angry toss of the head in the book will be thrown at you. Just be prepared with oodles of patience and tons of techniques to keep your cool.

That’e when I knew something had to give. This cannot go on. I can’t possibly do everything with that brand of enviable balance that many women seem to have perfected. I’ve got to stop reading articles about how women CAN have it all. Hey, maybe they can. Right here, right now, I just have to admit that I can’t.

So now? I’ve decided to slow down. I’m going to focus on what I can manage and get better at it first. I have to say ‘no’ to some projects, which includes participating in an upcoming blogging marathon which I am running on another blog. It kills me but I see no way out. I have to work harder on the things that matter- like my health, my me-time and my home.

Essentially, I have to shift the focus to ‘Me’, just a little bit more often.

Coming from a blog that has ‘Doting Mom’ in the title, this seems like a bit of an overly frank admission, but if there’s one thing I have learnt it’s that honest parenting is the best kind of parenting. For one thing, I believe this will be a good model for kids to emulate. If they see their moms making time for themselves, they will realise it’s normal. They will grow up understanding that we need these moments to refresh ourselves.

Despite the ‘take it slow‘ and ‘savour the parenting moment‘ posts that I have written, I firmly believe that this job can overwhelm you big time and there’s nothing wrong in coming out and telling people that.

Parenting and blogging about it are two very different things, I’ve come to realise. It’s actually much easier to sit at the laptop and punch away at the keys because, to me, that’s liberating. It’s a breath of relief in the mundane and mad merry-go-round that is the routine.

Going through the daily ritual, though? Now, that’s hard. And it’s okay to be overwhelmed. You can never do it all and you can never do it well every single time. Stop and take a break. Read a book. Savour the silence that comes from doing nothing.

Remember, you need it.

***

Linking up with Tweens, Teens Β & Beyond Linky

After the Playground

Featured images courtesy: Shutterstock

**Excited to share that this post was picked up and shared by Mumsnet Bloggers Network on their Facebook and Twitter pages earlier this week!

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comments

57 thoughts on “Confessions of an Exhausted Mom

  1. Oh I want to give you a hug NOW. I am glad you wrote this down Shailaja and I’m glad you refused to be weighed down by that blog title. The truth is, all of us, at some point give up things to make life a little easier. It may be letting the laundry pile up, or making a shortcut dinner, or giving up Blog marathons. No mom on the face of the earth can be loving and kind and patient all the time. It just isn’t real.
    Oh and if you’re looking ay any kind of an exercise routine you will need your 7-8 hours of sleep. Don’t compromise on that please.
    Do take care of yourself.
    Obsessivemom recently posted Welcome vanityMy Profile

    1. 8 hours of sleep sound SO good. So so good. You think it’s possible? I certainly hope so and thank you so much for all the love and affirmation. I so needed it this week. Really.

  2. This is like a telepathy post! Just a few minutes ago I was complaining to my husband about how exhausted I am the entire time doing things that are important but unskilled at best but which take up all my time and energy to do things that matter. πŸ™
    Kudos to you for keeping checklists and the like. I can’t even see myself trying and that is what makes me feel even more guilty. I don’t know if I could get anything done even if I had a 30 hour day.
    That is why I’m reading like crazy nowadays. Blogs fewer, but books, a lot and mostly fiction. The temporary transportation to a make-believe world is somehow gratifying.
    Varsh recently posted Confessions of a toddler #11My Profile

    1. I realised I only ranted in my comment. Another exhausted mother trait.

      Your fitness and yoga posts on Instagram motivate me a lot, Shy. I realise that keeping it up everyday isn’t humanly possible but we can begin somewhere, right?
      Rest is lot more important than reducing a few extra kgs or ticking a few things off the list. Eat well. Sleep well. You have such a lovely smile, flash it for us always. ☺
      Varsh recently posted Confessions of a toddler #11My Profile

  3. Joining with you in the team of exhausted moms but with a big difference of you had did it boldly. Oh …… you are not there at bar-a-thon. Really we will be missing you.

  4. Good to hear this, I mean honestly, seriously good! Why? Because I guess misery loves company! I have battled this war for so many years now. I loved being in the heart of all matters in my life, and did pretty well at it all too. But deep down I knew I couldn’t keep doing this daily marathon. I have consciously taken a backseat from all things professional and personal. I do feel I am letting myself down but it’s either that or restless nights spent with a hyper-active mind that refuses to let the body restore its energies with a deep sleep. All that matters now is my sanity and good humor, trust me, bad sleep for days on an end, can make an angry bear of even saints! That said, chill…this too shall pass!
    Kala Ravi recently posted Celebrating the Joy of Hearing #CochlearCelebrationMy Profile

    1. You’re right. That mind of mine is way too hyperactive for its own good. I have to let it rest. My sanity and good humour keep me happy too so that’s some good advice there πŸ™‚ Thank you, Kala πŸ™‚

  5. First of all hugs. You are mentally and physically depleted and exhausted. Put on some upbeat music and sing loudly. To hell with everything else. Now a couple of things that are screaming out from your post : sleep and fatigue. You have to get enough sleep. It’s a priority. Start sleeping early from tonight and catch a nap during the day. No compromises here. My body cannot function if it does not get adequate sleep forget workout. Now fatigue, have you checked your Vit D levels? Fatigue early in the morning is not normal unless due to sleep deprivation. First rule that out. I suffered from extreme fatigue due to Vit D. Please get that checked. Now that out of the day, please solicit help and be easy on yourself. It’s okay to not have a perfectly clean house at all times or to forget things once in a while. Please cut yourself some slack. Seek V’s help or Gy’s if feeling overwhelmed. We both know how hectic a mother’s life is. Let’s try and do what is achievable. I hope mine and others’ fitness updates motivate you and not turn you off. Sending warm thoughts good way and keeping your smiling face in my mind. Feel better soon. BTW, I also opted out of BAR athon. Too much on my plate just now. Could not fit that in. Take care.

    1. Big big big thank you for leaving such a detailed comment, Rachna. I have been roping Gy in for some help on the chores front and that’s helped. Started a multi vitamin too as well as an Ayurvedic tonic. Need to get my hb and Vit D checked asap. Will try and get that done soon. And no, your updates don’t get to me. I do feel inferior though when I see other updates from much busier moms who seem to be doing it all. As it is, I got some flack from someone who asked if I took 2 hours to prepare a box and breakfast? What can I say? Am a slow cook who doesn’t really enjoy cooking πŸ™ Have realised I can’t please everyone and I shouldn’t try anymore. Not worth my energy and expenditure. Thank you again for the wonderful, helpful comment.

  6. It doesn’t get any easier, does it?
    Thanks for not sugar coating things. Being a mum is hard because you need to be a mum + yourself + a wife and more. You have been reading my posts so you know I’m on the exhaustion train too. We just have too much on our plates, just too much. Sometimes I think it is our maternal gatekeeper behaviour which causes this because we want to do all, at least I do. And I don’t ask for help too.
    Please take care, Shailaja because this is how it is going to be when we are juggling so many things. I don’t want to tell you that you are going to be free or your checklist is going to get any smaller. It isn’t, I know. So try to take care of yourself somehow. And yes get your Vitamin D levels checked because that can add to the exhaustion feel. Hugs.
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted #FeministMondays | Why Does A Woman’s Marital Status Or Her Plans For Motherhood Affect Her Rise At Work?My Profile

    1. Thank you, Naba. It takes a mum to know a mum πŸ™‚ And you are doing so much more too, working outside the home with a young baby to boot! I admire you far more than you know πŸ™‚ need to get those Vit D levels checked ASAP and work on a better regiment on the health front. Hugs.

  7. This exactly is the reason I haven’t been blogging regularly for the past five months. Yesterday was the day I actually wrote something with a peaceful mind after almost five months. I have realised that it is not just killing me physically but is also interfering with my priorities. Hence decided to take it all slowly. One thing at a time. We can’t be everywhere at the same time. And hence we need to set our priorities. I have always envied many of you for the discipline you guys have had in your personal and professional space. I believe you definitely need to take it a bit slow Shailaja. Take care and get back to your cheerful self in a healthy way. Lots of ❀️.
    Rekha recently posted Of Tamarind, Mangoes and BananasMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much, Rekha! I did wonder where you were in the blogging space. I need to cut back and take it slow. We aren’t omnipresent, as you rightly said. Thanks for all the love <3

    1. I hear you, Indy. Not easy. And with a move, oh don’t even get me started on that! February was a mess for me with a move and health setbacks combined. All the best for the blogging front and yes, we WILL get through πŸ™‚

  8. Shailja, its tough to admit this fro Mothers. I realized this last year when I promised myself to not make Blogging a stressful thing. I am really following one-thing-at-a-time rule and do not believe in to-do lists. It helps. Good that you are saying No to overburden.

    1. Blogging is the least stressful of everything, Upasna. πŸ™‚ I enjoy it completely.I make time for it because I want to and it relaxes me. The other things though, those stress me. I can’t manage without my to-do lists especially since I work from home and need to prioritise my time across work, chores and home. I’ll try and find a method to the madness. Soon πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience.

  9. Ohhh gosh… Just reading about your day is giving me anxiety. You would see me hiding inside a cupboard if I had so many things in mind. Cut it down… It’s ok if the dishes are not done… It’s alright if the laundry is a day late… Don’t stress so much dear… My mom is like you… Even though she got some terrifying stitches last year, she was lifting bricks out of the way because the garden didn’t look good. Thankfully, I have none of her genetic disposition. Let the dust settle until I start sneezing πŸ™‚ I like how you are so frank and open about it. And I am sure moms out there would be finding solace in yours words thinking they are not alone. Love and hugs to you.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted Turmeric girl is a ball of fur!My Profile

    1. You’re so right! So many moms have expressed empathy and sadly, that doesn’t make me happy. It just reinforces the fact that we are all overworked in our own way and need to slow down. I’m also very particular about some things and not seeing it take shape the right way affects me more than I care to admit. Have got to overcome that. Somehow, some day it will happen. Thank you for the hugs and love.

  10. Oh, Mam! I totally understand. Working in a 24/7 project, that too in different shifts had taken a toll on my health. Now that I am home, I am at peace. But I couldn’t stick to an exercise regimen even now, though I have absolutely nothing to do other than managing two blogs. Sad to hear that you would be skipping Bar-a-thon. While I really don’t want to give it a miss, I will have to since I’m busy packing my home in big black boxes. Yup. Time to move! πŸ™‚
    Shalini recently posted Watermelon Lime Slush with Sviten Natural SweetenerMy Profile

    1. Yes, Shalini. For those who don’t exercise by default, it’s very tough to get into a regimen late in life. Ask me. So, trying very hard to make it a priority and not dislike it.

      All the best for the move and I wish you lots of joy in the new place!

  11. Hugs, Shailaja! I do not claim to understand what exactly a mom goes through (because we kids will only ever see the tip of the iceberg). But I do know this: sticking to an exercise schedule sucks! I had to adhere to one in May (still have to), and I was excited about it only for the first week. After that, poof! All motivation = Evanesco. I almost felt like turning myself into a cat, hiding in a corner and yawning away to glory.

    Do take care, refresh yourself, and do things the way you feel like doing them. We readers will always be here, come rain or storm! ❀

    And congratulations on the feature in Mumsnet Blog Network

    1. I’ve been going about it all wrong, on the exercise front, sadly. I try for too much and then do nothing at all! So, I went back to Zen Habits and was reading up on his inputs on creating a habit and sticking to it. I am hoping this will make the difference. Refreshing is what I need. Social media is weighing me down with its negativity and adding to my fatigue. I need time away but since that won’t be completely possible, I am doing the next best thing and sticking to very very limited time on it, especially Facebook and Twitter. Let’s hope this will work.

      Thank you so much for the love and yes, pretty happy about the Mumsnet Feature. πŸ™‚

  12. Sigh!!!! Another exhausted mom this side.. Two kids and a husband away for long spells, with zero mobile connectivity, and living in a god-foresaken cantonment with absolutely no entertainment, my exhaustion is physical as well as mental!! I agree, we cant do it all, and its ok sometime when things dont go as per plan. But all said and done.. it is tough. So I find my own time to read and write, and staying away from social media… dont known why but it exhausts me more πŸ™‚

    1. Social media IS exhausting. No doubt about it. I’ve cut back on that to a very large extent but the physical routine of day to day chores has taken a toll. Must recoup and get back on track. Hugs to you, Ramya. Don’t know how you manage all by yourself. I know I’d find it very tough (I did, for two years).

  13. Tell me about it. I have been juggling like crazy with 1 teen, 1 tween, WFH and all. I used to run around half the time and feeling guilty full time. I get the boys to help me with chores and have certain days for certain activities. Try taking a break once everyone is out of the door. Lie down for a quick nap or some reading or simply watch the trees..Do not adjust on the health activities..and it’s ok to be not perfect all the time.

    1. Ah, I hear you. I rarely get time to take a break because the schedule is packed with the work from home scenario. But I should. Reading is a good idea though, to take a break. Will try that for sure. Thanks, Lata πŸ™‚

  14. Hugs Shailaja!
    I hear you. Your morning routine is packed with a lot of work and since you wake up at exactly the time I do, I know how exhausted you must feel by 9 am.
    As an early riser, I say it is perfectly normal to feel exhausted all day, if you aren’t taking regular, small snacks every couple of hours and are not taking a nap(even if it is just 30 minutes).
    First things first, you need to get yourself optimum rest. Everything else can wait. Make sure you make room for undisturbed 7 hour sleep every night. And like Rachana rightly pointed out, please add a supplement if needed (after consultation with your doctor) to help your body battle the ongoing stress and hardwork.
    Rest, I am confident you’ll surely find a way to balance what’s important in life in your own wonderfully organised way.
    Life of a mom is difficult but am glad to note how wonderfully you are aware of your priorities and are actively working on making things that matter stay over those that can take a backseat for now.
    More power to you for choosing to care for yourself for the larger good of your family.
    Era recently posted Mighty Raju Series of #ChildrensBooksMy Profile

    1. Thank you, ME! You’re right. I do need at least 7 hours of sleep, so I must aim to be in bed by 9 pm if I am to be up at 4.30 am. I think that alone will solve a lot of problems. I am taking Rachna’s suggestion seriously and have started a vitamin supplement from today. Fingers crossed that things improve over time.

  15. I can’t say anything to make you feel better, Shailaja – I’m just not qualified enough.

    But starting a day at 4:30 am and ending it at the regular time (10:30 pm+) is a recipe for disaster of health. And as you already know, it will have a cascading effect on the family. As my friend Kamini says, secure your oxygen mask first.

    I’m sure Gy will grow up to be a compassionate daughter and your right hand in times of need. Until then, have you thought about roping your husband in to help with household chores? Of course, he’ll complain that he’s ‘tired’ at the end of the day, but I’m sure he’d love to help and reduce the burden.

    Apologies if this comment is an intrusion in your private life.

    1. Hey Vishal,thank you for the thougtful comment and I do appreciate the suggestions. As it happens, my husband is extremely hands on with the cooking and the chores at home and is an equally loving (if not more) parent to Gy. He never complains that he is tired πŸ™‚

      But if you notice the things I have spoken about,a bulk of those things fall in my domain: My job, my blogs, my health. The chores themselves are not a problem, to be honest. In fact I rope in Gy to help with a lot of them.

      No, it’s just this lack of sufficient sleep together with the fatigue of trying to do too much on any given day that is my downfall. I must cut back and let go of things that don’t matter, at least for now.

      You’re right. Health is wealth and I aim to keep that as my focus for the times ahead.

  16. Ah poor you! Hugs! <3

    I'm not a mother but I so relate to being that ever exhausted pigeon. Being a multitasker I always think that I handle work and household chores pretty well. But some days, everything takes a toll and I end up in tears. This is not only you, so please relax.

    It is very very important to let go and breathe at times. No one can do everything and you mustn't be bogged down by it. Let it go. One can only do how much they can. That's it.

    Focus on yourself first. Your sanity, your health, your time. Only then can you face anything else.

    Trust me, you'll be fine.

    Much love!
    Soumya recently posted Of Love & TogethernessMy Profile

    1. Thank you, babe. You don’t know how much this comment moved me. I’ve never been big on multi-tasking. I cannot do it. But just the number of undone tasks staring back at me in a day was throwing me into fits of anxiety. I am learning to overcome it all and let go. Slowly. One at a time. So much love from me to you. Thank you! πŸ™‚

    1. Spot on. It’s something that keeps rearing its head now and then but I tend to keep forgetting. These reminders, in the form of health and sleep troubles, actually help. Thanks for the hugs πŸ™‚

  17. Parenting is one of those double-edged swords, as many people – including you, have always reminded me.
    Add other things like work and family to the mix, and it becomes like a never ending carousel of chores and to-be-done lists.
    As they say, sometimes you really need to jump off the carousel πŸ™‚

    Good luck, Shailaja!

    1. Jumping off is what I am trying to do, trust me. It doesn’t come easy, especially for a Type A personality like me. Health is the only thing that helps me slow down and take stock, so hoping this will be the much-needed nudge for that. Thanks a lot, Sid! πŸ™‚

  18. It’s never easy being a mom, work from home, writing and doing so many things. Ask me: I am single but work from home. I mean, I am not in your situation and you have it tougher. But, the fact that you wake up so early tells a lot about your spirit and force to make things happen. But, sometimes, we need to take a breath and stop to rest for a while.
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted Book Review: Love & Vodka is wine to the mindMy Profile

  19. Lots of love Shailaja!
    Yo’ve always been an inspiration. And what goes behind the camera, am sure, is not at all easy. Motherhood is taxing. To don so many hats along with shows your passion and strength. I am glad that you have set clear priorities for yourself. Which isn’t easier for many of us. More power to you!!

    1. Thank you, Nancy πŸ™‚ I never realised my words inspire so many people and it’s a truly humbling experience. Thank you for your warm words and all your love. Prioritising is something I pride myself on so this came as a blow. But, no matter. These lessons happen for a reason πŸ™‚ Thank you again πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Sharon. Sleep is the key. I’ve realised I can’t let this go on for much longer and hope for great results as well. Thank you for hosting, as always πŸ™‚

  20. Lack of sleep is intolerable. I have written previously about my menopausal insomnia whereby I would wake regularly at around 4am and then couldn’t return to sleep. We all need sufficient sleep to function properly and to ensure our good health. Aside from the alternative Hormone Therapy I am taking, I swear by a Magnesium supplement and my night time tea. Other than that I think it is essential to do what you are doing and cut back. Sometimes as mothers we are guilty of taking on too much and forgetting to say no. I hope that your new strategy will pay dividends and that you will start to feel less overwhelmed. Thanks for joining us. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Hormone therapy sounds like something I could use at the moment. I’ve started a multi-vitamin supplement for the last 3 days and am coupling it with a health tonic as well. But you’re right. I have to say ‘No’ to things that exhaust me and that’s in my hands. Thank you for hosting this each week. It motivates me to write better and write more. Thanks to this, Mumsnet noticed the post and I couldn’t be happier πŸ™‚

  21. As someone who is working through a huge workload and the joys of hormones (everyone’s!), I totally get this feeling. Sometimes perspective can play a big part in helping at these times. Along with a very big switch off button. #tweensteensbeyond

  22. Indeed. We definitely can’t juggle it all and the sooner we realize it before we drive ourselves mad, the better it is πŸ™‚ As you have done, it’s essential to prioritize. Health definitely comes on top. And sleep too ! Sleeping less that 8 hours is a real strain. Glad that you decided to declutter !

  23. First of all, big hugs to you.
    Secondly, yes, you need to stop reading articles about women having it all. No one’s a superwoman, and those who say we are or need to be, are putting unnecessary pressure on us. Ignore all of it.
    It’s great to keep checklists, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Not every little thing has to be perfect and just so. Sometimes, you have to be your most important priority – this includes things for yourself, your sleep, your exercise, your tea.
    Just breathe…

    1. I’m having a rough week. Deactivated Facebook this morning because, well, just because. I’m slowly coming out of the funk but it isn’t easy. I’ve been neglecting my health and it’s now taking a toll on me. Must get my head around this somehow. Thank you, Sreesha

  24. A BIG hug to you, Shailaja. I can so relate to your situation. I had guilt pangs, feelings of worthlessness for I was not able to manage work, travel, home, chores and a million other things (like you I am pretty organised). And then updates from friends that they are doing it all with elan was the last straw.
    But then, I realized that we all have different question papers of our life, so our answers cant be the same. I have to do things that I can manage. I have tried to let go of some chores, a bit of perfection (just a tiny bit… ), I dont fret and fume when I am not able to update my blog as regularly as before… And it has given me a bit of peace and calm.
    Let me tell you that you are doing great. Do what is humanly possible, ignore a few things and relax! Take care, girl! β™₯

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