Have you ever realized how your brain seems to change after having a baby? Some days it feels like I went from a high functioning and capable woman to a brain fogged mess that cannot keep her shit straight.
I once joked about this with the pediatrician. She smiled and told me that it never really goes away. But that I am more intelligent and capable that average, so no one really notices. Although, I laughed and it sort of made me feel better, I really wanted to better understand what I could do to change this. There had to be a way right?
Over the past several weeks, the kiddos and myself have been sick which in turn leads to a tired momma that does not sleep often. Sometimes the insomnia strikes and I begin to research like all normal people, right? I mean that mixed in with Pinterest searches and late night hair/makeup tutorials…because obviously the next day I will have so much energy I will wake up early to basically get ready for a photo shoot.
Are you ready to hear what I found out?
Mental fatigue or mom fatigue is a real life thing. I am going to over generalized, but I am thinking that every mom has felt one or more of these pretty routinely because it seems to come with the territory. Or does it?
- Emotionally/mentally drained
- Mental fog or “mom brain” “pregnancy brain”
- Lack of Motivation
- Stress Eating or loss of appetite
- Insomnia and just plain exhaustion
Now, you read through this list. Not to sound like one of those advertisements for some life-altering drug, I mean these are legitimate symptoms and you probably have experienced these.
You are interested. You may even want to know if you should pay more attention to those annoying, laughable, and sometimes scary drug advertisements.
Before we get into the cure, we have to understand the why. How the heck does this happen?
- Decision Fatigue – we make a million decisions a day ranging from what we need to eat, what to wear, work decisions, and who will pick up who from daycare/school.
- Clutter – Seriously, science shows that physical clutter causes a stress hormone, Cortisol, to build up in our bodies. Yes, we will have this hormone in our bodies from time to time, but we should not stay there. That leads to physical and mental health conditions. Cost of a Cluttered Environment
- Over-committing – Do you got that yes girl gene? The one where you say yes to all the things without even thinking it through? Yes, me too.
- Avoidance/Procrastination – Oh yea. We all know procrastination is not the best idea, but there are a few of us (me included) that still do it. Back before children (let’s call that B.C), I NEVER or very rarely procrastinated. I understood the stress it caused me. But now, although I know better, it is hard because there is so much to do – right? But that running to do, should do, could do, need to do list that is constantly running in your mind – not good either.
- Perfectionism – Slap a big red bow on this one. I call myself a recovering perfectionist because I am constantly working to avoid this trap.
- Lack of Sleep – Are you supposed to sleep as a mom, like ever?
So looking at the list above, I think – OKAY – I know, I fall into each and every one of these categories. Sometimes daily or maybe routinely. So, what are my solutions? Seriously, do I need to check back with the drug advertisements?
Here is the deal, I am not a doctor. I will not pretend to be one. But I am a mom. I am a mom of two busy toddlers, I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, and holy smokes there are more labels – but I will keep this brief.
The point is that I understand the fatigue, the brain fog, the overwhelm and the pure exhaustion. Literally and figuratively.
But I honestly do not believe that we were blessed with all of these gifts to spend the rest of our lives tired and stressed out. I do not believe that this is the way to spend our motherhood or to teach our daughters to spend theirs.
Here are my suggestions. Honesty – when I set intention and practice these habits – I am stronger. I have more joy. My relationships are better. I have more mental capacity and energy. I do not yo yo with my weight because I am stress eating, then not eating, etc.
- Reduce Decision Fatigue – Let’s work to automate, schedule, and set intentions here as much as we can. Simple solutions to this include: picking out clothes the night before, packing all bags the night before, meal prepping for the week, scheduling cleaning duties, etc.
- Reduce Clutter – Yes, this takes time. Here is the deal. We will take one step at a time. Start with tossing out all of the garbage or broken items. Then take out any dirty dishes. Then remove any obvious clutter. These are objects that do not belong. When you have the time, dive into slowly getting rid of things. Then categorize and organize. Rinse and repeat. Sustainably Organized
- Setting Boundaries and Saying no – Remember that yes gene. Start by pausing before accepting any offer. Really consider how this ask will impact you. Know your values, so you have a measurable way to determine if it important to you.
- Ask for help – Seriously, I know it is hard. It just is until you make it a habit. You cannot to all the things well by yourself. It is not possible. The most successful, busiest people in the world have help. Why shouldn’t you? It may look different, but ask.
- Batch tasks – Studies show that it can be less demanding on your brain to complete all similar tasks at a time and then shift to something else. Get all of your shopping done (groceries, Target, etc) or prep all of your meals at one time. Batch Cleaning
- Be a problem solver – Look at how you spend your energy. Are you looking for stuff all the time? Always need a charger in the kitchen? Does it drive you insane to have dirty dishes in the sink before you cook? Maybe you always run out of diapers midweek? Stop and reflect on the smallest annoyances. Small or not, they affect our energy. Take action.
- Get off the hamster wheel – So often our brains are literally running, spinning even. We are consistently running our schedule over and over, all the should dos, could dos, need to dos, and want to dos are just rolling and running in your mind. That takes energy! Get off the wheel. Take a moment to get those thoughts out. Write them down. Then you will not forget. Also this helps you prioritize and get moving in the right direction.
Intentional Living Tip: As a mom, I noticed immediately the fatigue I had trying to do all the things. Society holds motherhood on this pedestal and talks about how moms can do it all. Heck yes! We can do all lot of things at once while nursing a baby and finishing up a conference call. Certainly, we can. But at what expense?
Take some time today and prioritize you. If you are feeling this way, then you need to make changes. Small changes over time will make a difference. Write it out and let me know how I can support you!
I am always supporting you,