7 Parenting Tips for When You're Exhausted

  Even when we’re down and out, our families still need and rely on us. Mighty Mommy shares seven ways to power through those exhausting moments of parenting.

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #437

Even though it’s summertime and the living is supposed to be easy, as the mom of 8, I found these 8 – 10 (long) weeks when the kids were home from school to be the most tiring of the entire year.  Sure, we’re not as overscheduled with activities, sports, music lessons, and homework, but the kids are home, for many of us 24/7, not leaving much time to sneak off to the bathroom alone, never mind have a few hours of uninterrupted time in which to think or get motivated.

Whether you’ve got little tots or active teens, between managing your home, family, and job, there are plenty of days when parenting just isn’t fun and you have to fight through some stretches of exhaustion to maintain some type of normalcy in your life.  Even when we’re down and out, our families still need and rely on us, so Mighty Mommy shares 7 ways to power through those exhausting moments of parenting.

#1.  Ease Up On Standards

In my earlier parenting years, I definitely had different standards than I do now 20 years later. Sometimes I cannot believe I did things like decorated for the seasons so that my family wouldn’t get bored of the same old décor, vacuumed the entryway nearly every day just in case my in laws would drop by, and even got my kid’s church clothes ready the Friday afternoon before Sunday morning mass.  Now, I feel accomplished if we get a Christmas tree up for the holidays, don’t trip on my kid’s sports gear in the foyer and if we get to mass on time, never mind wearing crisp, ironed outfits.

When I go through “parenting slumps” and just don’t have my usual bouts of energy, the first thing I do is to put a few things on the back burner such as some of my overzealous housekeeping duties and just stick to the basics.  If my kids are fed, bathed, and clothed and the dishes are done and we have clean laundry, sometimes that is as good as it gets and the rest of the house waits.  This was difficult at first, but when I soon realized that my family was just as happy having a sticky kitchen floor as they were when I mopped it twice a day I was able to cut myself a bit more slack, especially when I was too tired or busy to get it all done.

#2.  Look for Joy Alerts

On those weary days when I’m dogging it and giving it everything I have just to go through the motions the smallest problems—listening to a leaky faucet continually drip or having a son leave his dirty socks in the hallway instead of putting them in the hamper can seem monumental and drain me even further. 

When we’re discouraged and tired, it is difficult to see the positive—in fact many of us tend to focus on what’s wrong in our households which only brings our energy down even further. In those tiring parenting times I play a game a former boss of mine taught me called “Joy Alerts.”

It’s quite simple: you look for simple pleasures throughout the day that make you feel joyful and announce them (even if it’s just to yourself).  For instance last week our extra freezer and refrigerator that we keep in our garage both stopped working on the same day!  I was already pressed for time with kid’s appointments, a deadline at work and having to get my car in for a very over-due service appointment, but I had to stop everything to empty both appliances so the food wouldn’t spoil.  I was too tired to cry so I played the “Joy Alert” game instead.  I found two meals I had prepared and frozen just a couple of weeks before that I had forgotten about—yahoo! That was indeed a “Joy Alert.” My kids helped clean both the fridge and freezer while I was getting my car serviced without being asked—“Joy Alert Jackpot!”   I didn’t need new tires like I had thought—“Joy, Joy, Joy!”   I’m temporarily without an extra freezer and fridge, but focusing on the positives on that daunting day kept me a bit more sane and hopeful.

#3.  Connect With Your Partner 

Because I have a large family and most of my kids are so close in age, many of my earlier parenting days were a total blur.  I’d get up early every morning to get a head start on the day and didn’t stop until I fell into bed exhausted nearly every night, only to get up and do it all over again the following day.  There never seemed to be time for anything but kids, laundry and more kids, and because I never liked to ask for help, I carried the burden alone—which didn’t have to be the case because my husband was always willing to help.

Spouses are not always mind readers (despite what we think) so when you’re struggling and need some time to yourself or need an extra set of hands to help lighten your load—let your partner know.  Have conversations about a schedule that needs revamping or taking turns making dinner throughout the week.  Even if it’s temporary to help you over the hump when you’re just not up to handling your usual responsibilities, it can ease your burdens and give you some respite.

I’ve been divorced for 5 years now and I still rely on my ex-husband to step in and give me a helping hand when I have too much going on both at home and work.  Not only is he a huge help, our kids see us still working together for the better of the family.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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