The Working Tired.

by Elizabeth Horn 

 

One universal, undeniable factor about being a working mother is that you are tired. I mean really tired, but, you have to go to work anyway.

 

As you find out when you return to work after having kids, it's a whole new brand of tired, too.

 

While all mothers are usually tired at some point in their lives, when you are employed outside the home, the added layer of having to get yourself ready, a baby ready, and, get out the door by a certain time each day, can exact quite a toll on your energy level.

 

I remember when I had my first child and I went back to work about 12 weeks later. I did all the things they tell you to do: start your routine before you have to go back to work, make a practice run of your route, start the baby with the caregiver before you have to go to work, etc.

 

Yet, when the time came, I was organized, and, on time, but, all that advice didn't do anything for the way I felt. I was completely, and, utterly exhausted, and, I have just been off for 3 months.

 

I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out which bathrooms at work had the narrowest stalls, as they were easier to lean against to rest while in a seated position. Some days, I even called into work late, dropped the baby off at daycare, and, went to my parents' house nearby to sleep for about an hour just to be able to make it to lunch without falling over.

 

I tried my best not to call attention to the fact I was dazed, and, confused half the time, but, I was sorely tempted on more than one occasion to try to figure out how to lie down under the desk, a la George Costanza, where no one would notice.

 

OK, maybe when I had an office with a door, I did actually lie on the floor for a bit, I'll never tell.

 

It can be challenging to go about your work when you are exhausted, I know. As for advice on how to combat it, I'm afraid there's not magic formula other than the treatment for common variety tired: drink water, have some coffee, get up and move around, etc.

 

Try to complete your most challenging tasks during the part of the day you feel the most refreshed. It's also good to leave yourself plenty of notes about your work so that you can remember what you're doing. I still have to do that, and, my kids are older. It's also helpful to take a few minutes at the end of each day to prepare for the next day, so you don't waste valuable time in the morning trying to figure out what you have to do.

 

Make sure you have a pen and paper at meetings, since the lack of sleep can affect your memory. Even if you can't manage to write notes, you can at least hold the pen, and stare intently at the paper as if deep in thought while honing your sleeping with eyes open skills.

 

applemom
04.14.08

I'm new to this blog. This is a great website and love the comments/info on the blogs. I agree sometimes it feels like all you do is get through one day to get to the next. I have a 9 month old and I'm realizing time is just flying and I need to stop and enjoy my days a bit more. I'm a new mom so it took me a while to get myself semi organized. Still a long way to go...

pittardm
03.25.08

I'm single and have 5-year-old triplets. I look back on the last 5 years and still wonder how I did it. And I'm amazed I still have a job. The next challenge on the horizon is that my organization is moving an hour away. I don't have that much time to spare. Actually, I added up the hours now (allowing me 7 hours to sleep, which I NEVER get), and they added up to 24 1/2 hours. One more hour a day of commute time, definitely won't do! What do I cut? Sleep? While having to drive a longer distance? Yeah, that's a great idea . . .

pittardm
03.25.08

I'm single and have 5-year-old triplets. I look back on the last 5 years and still wonder how I did it. And I'm amazed I still have a job. The next challenge on the horizon is that my organization is moving an hour away. I don't have that much time to spare. Actually, I added up the hours now (allowing me 7 hours to sleep, which I NEVER get), and they added up to 24 1/2 hours. One more hour a day of commute time, definitely won't do! What do I cut? Sleep? While having to drive a longer distance? Yeah, that's a great idea . . .

lulubatz
03.12.08

I really had no idea how bad the sleep stuff was. I have lucked out with having my MIL take the baby if we have a bad night but boy oh boy by Wednesday I feel like I've worked a whole week. No books or stories really prepare you for this. I'm still trying to figure out how to get some stuff done for the next day and spend time with the baby before we all try to sleep. It's amazing people have more children after the first.

dawnsoliel
02.27.08

I can definitely relate. Another factor that I know adds to my fatigue is my lack of time to exercise. Well, actually I choose not to take the time to exercise. I am too tired from a long day at work and an hour commute. I would also rather spend the precious time I do have with my children (now 9 month old daughter, and almost 3 yo son). It is really a catch-22 because I know if I don't exercise then I will have less energy. If this makes no sense, I attribute this to my lack of sleep. Last night my little girl woke up at 3:30 AM talking to herself. I couldn't see her on the monitor so when I went into check on her, she was looking right at me (in the corner of her crib) with a big smile on her face. Who needs sleep, right? : )

greggnana
11.15.07

Great tips! I am sleep-writing this right now! I have a 11 wk old that I am exclusively breastfeeding, a 3 year old and a 6 year old and both my hubby and I work - NOTHING gets done at home during the week but the bare minimum and I've never been so sleep deprived! I sure could use a two-hour hot bubble bath with a glass of wine followed by a 12-hour interruption-free sleep! One of these days....

cindrac@hotmail.com
10.30.07

Side affects of sleep deprivation include fatigue, inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss, difficulty speaking, body aches, being accident-prone, delayed reaction times ... the list goes on & on. A certain amount of sleep deprivation occurs for all new parents but for some "lucky" parents, the sleep deprivation is worse, much worse.

My first child didn't sleep through the night till she was almost 2. I was up every 1.5 - 2 hours with her. I read books. I spoke with her doctors. I sought advice from experts. All for not. I actually do not remember much from year 1 & 2.

Sleeping bad is no comparison to being woken up every couple hours. For a long time I thought it was me and something I was doing to make her a bad sleeper. Along came child #2 and I learned it wasn't me. Child #2 slept.

Unless you've had the non-sleeping child and lived through the days when you fall asleep pumping milk while on a conference call; I don't think you can begin to comprehend how impossibly hard it is. Have sympathy and don't label it as depression. Offer to help, so the Mom can get some ZZZ's. Eventually I accepted some help and started leaving my #1 overnight w/my in laws once a week. Those Weds nights were my saving grace for those 2 hard years.

CEO
10.29.07

Depressed?  An serious medical illness?  If she has one then we all do.

Beckstress11
10.23.07

Have you ever considered the possibility that you may be depressed or have some other type of illness? I'm not talking clinically to the point where you can't function. But, mild depression can make you feel tired, all of the time. (so can some other things like thyroid problems.) I think that many moms are on the go, working hard, staying up late with a sick kid, that we sometimes attribute our lack of energy to our crazy lives. And, aren't all of us moms a little guilty of taking better care of our kids than we do ourselves? I would never let my kids miss one doctor's appointment. But, how many times have I put off my dentist appointment? Tons!!

amy324
10.23.07

Having a flexible arrival time saved my sanity. Trying to get there to punch the clock was sometimes downright dangerous. Being able to be 5-10 minutes 'late' with no repercussions made it do-able.