Being a mom is a rewarding job, but it can have a way of using up all of your energy quickly. Errands, sleepless nights, extracurricular activities, school projects, laundry and carpool are just some of the things that may fall on the endless to-do list for a mom. By the end of the day, feeling depleted of energy is common. It’s a good idea to know what to do when you need to recharge. While everyone will find that different things give them that added boost to get through the day, here are some ideas to get you started.
It may seem that adding exercise to your daily routine would use up more energy, but the truth is exercise can actually give you more energy. As your body moves, your heart pumps more blood which delivers more oxygen to your muscles. As your body becomes more adept at moving oxygen into the blood, it makes your muscles more efficient; more efficient muscles equal less energy usage.
On the other side of things, obesity has been linked to fatigue and low energy levels.
2. Eat healthier
It’s no surprise that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet gives you more energy to get through the day. I’m sure we’ve all made a choice to eat fast food or a piece of cake that tastes good in the moment but left us feeling sick and sluggish later.
It’s a well-known scientific principle that different foods are converted into energy at different rates. For example, candy and simple sugars can give a quick lift, while whole grains and unsaturated fats supply the reserves you’ll draw on throughout the day. While the occasional treat is fine, it’s best to choose healthy foods to give you the most energy and keep you feeling your best.
3. Spend time with friends
A quick (and enjoyable) way to recharge your batteries is to spend time with friends. Set aside the worries that go along with parenting for a few hours and talk and laugh with friends. If it’s hard to get out of the house for dinner, schedule a coffee date while the kids are at school or a play date that allows the moms to chat while the kids play.
Another great way to ensure you get a night out is to schedule a monthly dinner, book club or game night with friends. The effort of trying to figure out schedules will be eliminated, and it is more likely to happen if it is on everyone’s calendar each month.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
For some of you, this is easier said than done. You may have a child that still wakes at night, or you may be tempted to stay up late or rise early to work on your long list of to-dos’. If you’re like me, you find yourself enjoying a moment of quiet so much that you stay up late watching TV, or reading a book, and miss out on time you could be catching up on rest.
We all know that a full night of sleep is going to give you more energy the next day. Listen to your body. If you need to go to bed early or take a nap in the afternoon, allow yourself that break so you are rested. The to-do list will be waiting for you tomorrow.
5. Treat yourself
If you had a few hours to do whatever you wanted, what would it be? Going out to lunch with a friend? A spa day? Curl up with a good book? Whatever it is that comes to mind, make it happen. This may not be feasible every week, but on occasion you have to allow yourself time to do something you really want to do in order to boost your depleted energy.
Ask for help from your partner, a friend, or hire a babysitter to make it happen and treat yourself. Remember that caring for ourselves is part of what makes us able to better care for our families.
6. Take a quick pause
There are days when I am overwhelmed by the things on my plate and the kids are pushing every button. I find myself struggling to get through the hardest days, and I end up short-tempered and exhausted. A friend suggested that each day I take 10 minutes for myself in the afternoon to reset my attitude.
Some days, this is simply taking a shower during nap time, other days it is sitting down with my coffee and taking a moment to focus on my breathing. Sometimes, sitting down and snuggling with my kids while they watch cartoons gives me a moment to rest and recharge.
7. Schedule a date night
Parenting is hard work for both moms and dads. Many weeks, my husband and I find ourselves passing each other as we take kids to different practices and activities leaving us little time to talk and reconnect. When we start to feel distant, it’s time to schedule a date night. This helps both of us relax and recharge.
If a babysitter isn’t in the budget, put the kids to bed early and enjoy a late dinner or a movie together at home.
8. Protect your time
One of the biggest struggles parents face is lack of free time. We have good intentions of spending quality time with those we love, taking care of ourselves and creating a good work-slash-home life balance, and then we look at our calendar and it feels out of control.
Choose carefully what you commit to when it comes to kids’ extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities and other commitments. Overcommitment can be a cause for stress and zap all your energy. Saying “no” is hard for many of us, but the resulting chaos is not good for internal peace.
9. Practice self-care
As moms, it’s not hard to become so busy caring for everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s important to do things that maintain your mental and physical health. Practice good hygiene, go to yearly checkups at the dentist and doctor, do monthly breast exams and find things that take care of your mind and body.
By choosing to care for yourself, you are teaching your kids that health is a priority and that you want to be an active and energetic part of their lives as long as possible.
10. Let some things go
One thing I have learned from being a mom for 14 years is that it’s okay to let some things go.
There are only so many hours in the day, and there are times when I find I have no energy for doing the dishes. While they cannot be ignored indefinitely, they can be ignored for a few hours. If my child wants to wear mismatched clothes, I consider whether a fight is worth my energy and usually decide to let it go. Most household chores can wait until tomorrow if I need to sit down, play with my kids, talk to my spouse and recharge.
When your energy is depleted, it’s OK to let go of some things—even temporarily—in order to be a more attentive, patient and energetic mom. In 10 years, no one will remember if my house is clean (it isn’t), but they will remember that we laughed, snuggled and did our best each day. They will also remember that sometimes Mom needs a break to recharge, and that is important too.
Sarah Lyons is a guest contributing writer and mother of six children, including triplets.