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How many nights have you been awake in the middle of the night?
A baby needing to be fed, a toddler with a bad dream, a thunderstorm scaring various children, children who can’t find the toilet in the middle of the night, a neighbor’s dog barking, pregnant potty trips. It seems the list can go on and on.
Living with exhaustion seems to be the burden of motherhood.
I used to think that once my children were no longer nursing at night that I would be able to sleep. WHAT PLANET WAS I LIVING ON??? When you have multiple children (especially if they are fairly close together) just takes you from one phase to another, and the exhaustion changes but never quite goes away.
Even today, with my youngest being 11 years old, I STILL struggle with exhaustion and the lack of sleep. I remember 26 years ago having to tie my baby to me with my bathroom backwards so I wouldn’t drop her in the middle of the night when I was trying to get her to burp. Short cutting the process only resulted in, well, let’s just say a lost meal and a now hungry baby!
How have I dealt with lack of sleep for these past 27 years?
Naps have been my very dear friends. When our children were little, they took naps, and so did I. I found that 45-60 minutes of lying down took the edge off the feeling of not being able to function. When I had newborns, I often would nap 10 minutes in the morning while the baby napped and the toddlers lay down with me. Then we’d all take a longer afternoon nap.
- TIME OUTSIDE
I know it sounds a little strange, but I found that being outside (particularly taking walks with the children) was very invigorating. Now I’m the #1
hater non-fan of exercise, but having a good amount of fresh air and a bit of exercise really helped clear my often foggy brain. It also helped with children who were a bit cranky and allowed me time to pray aloud while pushing a stroller without people thinking I was cracking up! They all thought I was talking to my children. (unlike my poor husband who tends to talk aloud — they DID think he was cracking up!)
- TIME WITH THE LORD
During those early years, my time with the Lord was much less structured. I didn’t always have mental acuity to sit down and read. I had my husband on tape (yes, this was back when we actually HAD cassette tapes) reading scripture. I would listen and meditate on the passages as I nursed babies in the middle of the night. I had scripture passages on index cards that I put over the changing table, over the dryer where I folded clothes, over the sink where I washed dishes (by hand). I would read the verses as I cooked. And I prayed aloud on and off all day long. It wasn’t the hour long intimate quiet times of my single days, but the Lord still used this time to refresh and fill me when I felt empty and drained.
- FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS
Spending time with girlfriends, whether they understood my plight or not, was a huge help to my exhaustion! In the very early years, time laughing, and sometimes crying, and just hanging out with Chelle, Michele, Tami helped me keep my sanity and reminded me that I was not alone. In later years, God also brought me Andrea and another Michelle for sweet fellowship and encouragement. And this kind of friendships – centered in the Lord – are nourishing to the soul and strengthening even to the body!
- DATES WITH HUSBAND
Knowing that a time with your husband is coming goes a long way to give strength to carry on! Our date nights had numerous functions. They helped me reconnect emotionally and spiritually with my husband, BUT they also helped me keep him informed with how we were doing as a family. If he found I was losing it (and it happened frequently), he would do some serious rearranging in our home. Kevin took his role seriously as the one to nourish and cherish me. He tried to be up-to-date with how I was doing so that I didn’t get stretched beyond what was healthy. If my exhaustion was taking a toll on me, he made sure to jump in and do what needed to be done so that I could get refreshed and renewed, both in the Lord and with some serious sleep!
- OUTSIDE HELP
This was one that I didn’t take enough advantage of. Granted, we lived thousands of miles from extended family and I never had help or support from them. But I seldom shared my needs with others. Not because of pride (although there is always a touch of that going on, I’m sure) but because I always assumed others were just as tired or busy as I was and I didn’t want to impose. Silly since I would have jumped at the chance to help and bless others. So, call on that older lady in the church to come over and watch your little ones while you REALLY nap. Ask that women’s bible study or prayer group to come and help you get some cleaning done. The church is MEANT to be our extended family. Let them bless and minister to you!
What things have YOU found that help you deal with, and overcome, the exhaustion of motherhood?
Blogs I might be linking to:
Menu Planning Monday, On The Menu Monday, Erin Branscoms, Mommy Mondays, Marital Oneness, The Better Mom, Multitudes on Monday, Hear it On Sunday, Sharing His Bounty, What Joy Is Mine, Playdates at the Well, Making Your Home Sing Mondays, Domestically Divine Tuesdays, Time Warp Wife, Funky Planet Frequent Flier Club, Encourage One Another, Walking Redeemed, A Wise Woman Builds Her House, The Welcoming House, Legacy Leaver Thursday, What’s Up Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Hearts 4 Home, Thankful Thursday, Thankful Thursdays, Thankful, Thankful Thursday Brown-eyed Bell(e), Big Family Fridays, Faith Filled Fridays, Feasting In Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Homemaking Link-up Week-end, A Little R&R, Pieces of Amy, Homeschool Mother’s Journal, TGIF Bible Love Notes