How often have you found yourself waking up after a good 7 hours of sleep yet feeling tired? Do you increasingly find yourself feeling fatigued at the very thought of starting your day, before it has even started proper? Are conversations with your fellow mum friends constantly revolving around exhaustion? Just why are mums always tired?
Ever heard of the invisible workload?
See, mums are always tired because we are never completely at rest. Even as we drift off to sleep, our mind is constantly in a stream of consciousness. Just when we are about to doze off…
Oh I forgot that form that my son needed me to sign. Mental note – I’ll attend to it in the morning.
Baby is due for vaccination, maybe I should do it tomorrow, but wait, I need to make an appointment?
Hubby’s friends are coming over for dinner this Friday, I need to head to the supermarket.
Did I take the laundry in? I didn’t, I’m too tired to see to it now, but what if it rains tonight?
My daughter has a spelling test in two days and there’s this word that she just can’t seem to get right.
Mums are always tired, I wonder why. Note – I need to bake sprinkle cupcakes for bub’s class party.
I’m gaining weight; we have a dinner to attend next week. I don’t think I can fit into my favourite dress. I’m gaining weight, oh my god I am gaining weight!
How strange it is that mums are always tired…I wonder why
And then you finally doze off only to wake up in the middle of the night because anxiety caused by the impending to do list, strikes. Or you had a nightmare of your son’s teacher punishing him for the form you forgot. And the rest of the night’s sleep is of course history. And you wonder why mums are always tired?
Do I even need to start on working mums?
This is the invisible workload that drags mums down the path of perpetual exhaustion. In addition to the million and one things that we do, there are a million and one other things that we need to do and we constantly worry about these things.
Why are mums tired? Mums have a never-ending list of things to worry about!
Some call it maternal instincts, others call it the invisible workload of a mum, and science calls it the mum brain. I call it micromanaging.
In becoming a mother, along with the joy and the smiles of our beautiful children, come the hefty workload and responsibility. But let me tell you this, bluntly and simply, that the reason mums are always tired is because we allow ourselves to be.
You see, for reasons not that difficult to comprehend, to put it at best, becoming a mother turns us a into a bit of a (a bit is a huge understatement!) micromanager. Or should I say it brings out the hidden control freak in us?
Yes, on one hand, you might argue that if we don’t worry about all these things then who will? Not to discredit the wonderful daddies out there, but let’s face the fact – men and women are generally wired differently. There are exceptions but by and large, men function in a much simpler manner than us. And that’s one reason mums are always tired and dads aren’t!
Let’s take for example, bringing our children out. Hubby takes the child out to the movies and gives us some breathing space. But what do we do? We worry.
Did he bring our boy’s jacket? What if the cinema gets too cold? Will he remember to get him the booster seat?
Will he give him popcorn? Popcorn is a lot of sugar; it’s going to make him cough. Chocolates? I hope not. What are they going to have for lunch? Heaven forbid MacDonald’s!
Why didn’t I join them?
I repeat – you wonder why mums are always tired? Even when given breathing space we worry ourselves to the point of mental exhaustion. We seem to think that when anyone else handles our child they won’t do it as well as us, or they might do things differently from us.
Likewise, when we leave our children with our parents, in-laws, or even the wonderful preschool teachers, we are always worried. Because we are convinced that no one will get it right. And this is a major reason mums are always tired.
We need to trust that dads can handle the baby just fine without us!
You see, for men, it’s as simple as this – if they take the child out, they just make sure they have a good time and they don’t overthink, overanalyse and worry themselves sick wondering if a bag of popcorn will leave a lifetime of detrimental effects on their precious child.
And if we take the kids out, they rejoice with a can of beer and Netflix. They don’t worry if we are doing it all right.
Sometimes we just have to let go. We have to trust that the other parties love and care for our children and will do their utmost best for them.
We need to understand that we cannot possibly do everything all the time. There are days when we just have to leave the laundry unfolded. There are days when the dishes will have to be in the sink because there’s only so much that we can stretch ourselves.
And there are times that we just need to vocalise our thoughts. Many mums are always tired and wishing fervently that their husbands or other family members would step forward to help. To set the record straight – they are not helping. The home is shared and so are the responsibilities that come with running a home.
Mums need to communicate their needs without arguing.
Sometimes men don’t get it and we need to tell them. Don’t assume that if they don’t do the laundry or wash the dishes, they don’t care or don’t want to. Maybe it just doesn’t occur to them and they need to be told. So don’t hesitate to be clear and direct about what you want, or rather, need from them.
And above and beyond all of that, we need to disconnect ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and wind down. However impossible this sounds, we must slot in some time before we end the day, or in brief intervals during the day, to allow ourselves to be us.
We need to not be the master chef, laundrywoman, teacher, sports coach, businesswoman, mumpreneur, or working mum all at once. We need to switch off and do things that define us, solely for who we are. That little bit of you and that little bit of me that belong only to us.
Everyone has different outlets and find respite in their own ways. Whether its curling up in bed with a book, doing yoga, painting nails, sipping on piping hot chamomile tea or taking a yearly solo trip – we need to do something that does not involve us attending to the needs of anyone.
Never underestimate the importance of setting aside time for yourself.
Some need to do it more than others, or on a bigger scale, but whatever it is, this ‘me’ time is of cardinal importance for us to recharge and maintain our sanity. Otherwise we will spend our entire lives trying to understand why mums are always tired.
Remember this mums, before this ‘invisible workload’ bogged you down, you were once full of exuberance and zest for life. You were you before you were a wife and a mother. And in being a wife and a mother, don’t ever forget to be yourself. You owe that to yourself.