Mom Life

Tips and Tricks for Tired Moms

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Since I am officially the worst mother on earth (you can read more about that here), I was surprised when I got an email from a reader asking me for advice.

Yes. ME!

She’s tired. She has little kids that don’t always sleep when they should be sleeping (like in the middle of the night!) She can’t imagine ever sleeping again. Ever.

Whew – I have so been there! And I’m guessing every mother on earth has been there.

And I’m also betting that some dads think they’ve been there. And I’m about to lose my only male reader – but dads haven’t really been there.

Are you a tired mom? I'm sharing tips and tricks for tired moms to help you feel like yourself again.

Not like us.

And here’s the really crappy part about not getting enough sleep.

It makes us feel fat.

And cranky.

And emotional.

And then we feel like we aren’t even able to be a good mom because we feel FAT and CRANKY and EMOTIONAL – and that’s not us.

Oh – and being exhausted also makes our hair look bad – which I don’t understand – but it’s still true. And it makes one of my eyes look bigger than the other, and I’m pretty sure that it’s causing my high butt crack to get even higher, but I’m not positive.

This reader asked for my advice. And while I am absolutely not an expert on anything, I have certainly lived through my fair share of sleepless nights caused by children.

Most people would tell you to take a nap and sleep when the kids are sleeping and blah blah blah. We’ve all heard that before.

But I’m not a napper. Never have been. Just can’t do it.

In fact, I feel worse after a nap – even a short one. I’d much rather watch television during naptime or blog or maybe fold some laundry. Or just chat on the phone.

Or maybe plot my revenge towards Even Steven who always used to complain about how tired he was when we had newborns – even though I could hear him snoring while I was nursing a baby at midnight, 2, 4 and 6 am.

Are you a tired mom? I'm sharing tips and tricks for tired moms to help you feel like yourself again.

Sorry, I get a little worked up even thinking about those nights.

So – tired mamas – here’s my advice.

Are you a tired mom? I'm sharing tips and tricks for tired moms to help you feel like yourself again.

Tips and Tricks for Tired Moms

#1 – Dad deals with older kids. If you have a newborn, put your husband on older kid patrol. You deal with the baby – he’s in charge of the older kids. For some reason, bedtime can take me a solid 30 minutes. Even Steven can go upstairs, have all three kids in bed and be downstairs in less than 7 minutes. And they stay there. Now, they might not have their teeth brushed or be wearing real pajamas. And they certainly didn’t get four bedtime books and two songs. But you know what? Who cares. They’re alive, and they’re in bed – and sometimes that’s a huge victory.

#2 – Kick him out. Yes – I’m serious. With my first two kids, I was very concerned about Even Steven getting enough sleep. You know – because he had to get up and go to work in the morning.

I would oftentimes sleep in the baby’s room so that we wouldn’t have to wake up Even Steven. Or I would take a newborn downstairs to nurse, so that I could watch the television and not disturb Even Steven.

With baby #3, I got smart, and I kicked Even Steven out of our room. I told him he could return when Simon started sleeping through the night. Simon slept in a cradle next to our bed, and every time he woke up, I would turn on the television and watch the show of my choice while happily feeding him. All without even having to get out of my bed or worry about waking up Even Steven.

Those were the greatest two months of my life.

Even Steven complained about not sleeping well during the few weeks that he was kicked out of our room – but I went down to his tomb in the basement once (when one kid had a fever, one kid was vomiting and the baby needed to eat, and I felt like I needed some help at 3 in the morning) and I couldn’t even wake him up. That’s how well he was sleeping in the dark, cool, SILENT basement. Side note: It’s okay to dislike your husband sometimes.

#3 – Learn to sleep while doing other things. I mastered the art of sleeping in the shower. Sleeping during our morning dose of Mickey Mouse Club. Sleeping on walks around the neighborhood. Just don’t sleep while driving or Facebooking, and you’ll be fine.

#4 – Stop cleaning. I’m serious. You and your husband can clean together on the weekends. Just stop. Studies have shown that cleaning actually makes us more tired than lack of sleep. It’s not good for us. (That study may have been created by me – but whatever.) Stop cleaning and look at these pictures instead.

#5 – Get a room clock for your older kids. I think ours cost about $2 at Target. It’s just a big, old-fashioned wall clock. My kids can’t tell time, but they do know that they aren’t allowed to come out of their rooms until the little hand is on the 7. They’re allowed to read and play in their rooms before then, but they are not allowed to leave.

#6 – Get creative. A friend of mine says she used to walk downstairs in the morning, sprinkle a box of Cheerios all over the family room floor, turn on cartoons and tell the kids to come wake her up when they had found and eaten every single Cheerio.

Pretty sure I can’t advise you to do that. But maybe your kids would like to watch a show on your bed while you catch a few more minutes of sleep. Or play on your phone. Or paint your toenails. (See #3.)

#7 – Know that this stage will pass. And you might get to sleep for a week or so. I’m not going to lie to you and say that you’ll ever sleep a full 8 hours consistently again. It’s just not going to happen.

Sure – you might get a week here or a week there – but pretty soon someone will get sick. Or get a bloody nose. Or start having nightmares.

And then they’ll be teenagers, and you can’t sleep until they get home.

And then they’ll be in college and who even knows what kind of terrible things could be happening to them all night long.

And then you’ll be going through menopause, and I hear that you never sleep again anyway.

So I guess my last advice is to just try to accept the fact that you might be tired forever. It won’t be the bone-tired that you are when you have a newborn or lots of little kids.

But I’m thinking mildly tired is the new energized.

Exercise helps.

A good haircut helps.

Caffeine helps.

And laughing helps too.

Oh – and not being pregnant also helps.

That actually helps a lot.

What tips do you have for tired mamas?


  1. Janine Huldie

    October 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I laughed at that last line and that does help not being pregnant (can attest to that) and I am so like you on not being a napper. Seriously, I always do feel worse after, too!

  2. Jen

    October 14, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Bahahah yes you’ll never hate your husband more than when you have young children and he’s sleeping (and sleeping IN!) while you aren’t sleeping at all!!

  3. Amy

    October 14, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Great tips!
    When my kids were newborns, I would go to bed after the 10 pm feeding, and my husband would do a bottle for the midnight feeding. That meant I would get about 4 hours of sleep before the 2 am feeding, and for me, a four hour stretch was the magic number. If your partner is a night owl like mine, use it to your advantage!

  4. Lisa Whan

    October 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Actually had me laughing and in tears at the same time (and I dont think they are the laugh so hard Im crying tears) but I am 8 months pregnant with an almost three year old up half the night with the runs and a husband who can sleep through a hurricane. Thank you for reminding me this is normal (and I can dislike him every now and again).

  5. Frugalistablog

    October 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I have found I fall asleep and sleep better without having my ‘relaxing’ glass of wine at night. Now as for the kids bugging me, I found bribery works really well.

  6. Kathy at kissing the frog

    October 14, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I love all of these tips – they are so true. In the same vein as #3, I have found that mastering the art of the “eyes-open” catnap really helps. You look like you are listening to your kindergartner read, yet you are really having a dream, oddly enough, about Curious George getting lost in NYC.

  7. Lucy

    October 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    lol! I seriously chuckled through this whole post. It’s perfect and absolutely 100 percent backed up by studies. 😀

  8. Stephanie Carlson

    October 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    YES!! My hubby is a serious night owl and that helped so much when our daughter was first born. I took serious advantage of that.

  9. Christy

    October 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    How is it dad’s can get the kids in bed so fast?! It’s the same at my house. Stories and songs and prayers and water refills (my kids are still in diapers!), etc. and dad is done in less than 10 minutes.

    As for the pregnancy thing, I can’t wait to not be pregnant anymore. The varicose veins are making this pregnancy mighty painful!

  10. rebecca at thisfineday

    October 15, 2013 at 12:41 am

    I found kicking the newborn out into their own room early (6 weeks for the older one and 5 weeks for the younger one) help tremendously. I was at least able to SLEEP while they were sleeping instead of paying attention to EVERY sound they made. Now if they want to crawl in bed with us, we made a “nest” on the ground next to our bed that they can sleep in, because kids in your bed are not peaceful cozy sleepers, they just take over and rob you of your sleep!

  11. A

    October 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I used to tell my oldest “don’t come in mommy’s room if you can see the moon”…unfortunately, he was the only one of my three that complied.

  12. Erica

    October 15, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Love the advice to ‘stop cleaning’. Those photos are great. It’s not just me! My friend asked me how I possibly have time to knit and I the truth is I just let things go – toys, dishes, laundry. Most of it can wait until your brain recharges either with some personal time or sleep. I’m a much better mom all relaxed and recharged.

  13. Brittany

    October 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Love them all, except the”kick your husband out” one. Totally disagree. You are one, and were long before baby came along. When baby grows up and leaves, your man will still be there. In my home, my husband is first unless my son absolutely needs me. There has to be a balance.

  14. Brittany

    October 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I should clarify. I don’t mean that my son gets no attention from either one of us. I simply mean that my husband and I are a team and I don’t kick him out of the relationship between my son and I.

  15. Anna Luther

    October 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Oh – I wasn’t talking about putting my son before my husband. I was talking about putting MYSELF before my husband. And considering that I had just gone through the whole being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding thing – I figured that would probably be best for our marriage. 🙂

  16. Carrie

    October 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    THANK YOU for this personalized post Anna!! And it was equally nice to know that I’m not alone with the preschooler and pregnant with no sleep!

  17. TK

    October 17, 2013 at 6:50 am

    I love these tips, and I have actually followed many of them! I told the husband to move to another room. I stopped cleaning the house everyday. I stopped cooking (we just have one kid and he was well-fed from my boob). Things are better now that I have a toddler (haha, who am I kidding?!) or maybe it just seems that way because I know I will never sleep again.

  18. Wendy

    October 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    When I had my first son I used to go to bed at about 6pm ( yep was tired enough to sleep at that time) my husband would then look after the baby till about 10.30-11 pm. I got some solid hrs sleep and then when he came to bed I would take over. Didn’t speak to my husband much in the evenings lol!!!! But boy for the first few months it really helped.

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  20. Big Mamma

    November 21, 2013 at 10:39 am

    So funny and true!!! I’ve never kicked my husband out, but he knows the cradle stays by the bed as long as they’re nursing overnight and if he can’t sleep he’ll move on his own. I did make him wake up and sit there once while I did a middle of the night feed. He still doesn’t understand what the heck I was doing, but he knew I was exhausted and hormonal and didn’t argue. Just seeing him sit there awake made me less resentful of his sleeping. Poor guy was working full time and taking 18 university units at the time…must have been so tired the next day. Nine years later (and 5 kids total) we laugh about it. I’m pretty sure I’ll never sleep again either. I’m super blessed that I can punch him and tell him which kid is crying and he’ll go check on them. We’ve also decided we’ll clean the house again after they all move out. 😉 Such a funny article!

  21. Christy

    November 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Oreo’s (for mom not kids) for breakfast are better than coffee!!

  22. Amy B

    December 11, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Omg I’m freakin dying laughing!! Thank you for that and those messy house pics- I can’t tell you how nice it is to know someone else has phantom smells and closets that barely close and I just keep ignoring it! Love Love Love the article!!!! Please keep em coming!

  23. Carol

    December 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I laughed about you sleeping doing all these thing. I have actually slept while making my breakfast before. HeHe I still need a little more practice cause I lost my bowl of oatmeal doing it. LOL!

  24. Marmie

    December 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Hilarious and soooo true. I’m now into the final phase of not sleeping. You are absolutely right, there is no tired like the newborn tired. I used to “pack a lunch box” with juice and dry cereal for Saturday morning cartoons for the older ones and sleep in once a week. But the rewards of not killing the sleeping partner during the early years pays off when the grand-kids come and you again need help during the night. Blog on…

  25. Bethany Bauer

    January 9, 2014 at 8:54 am

    That last line makes me want to weep. Because I AM pregnant, with number five, and yes, I knew what I was in for, and yes, I asked for it…blah, blah, blah…but I’m so darned tired, I just want everyone else in my house to go away and leave me alone until I’m out of the first trimester. I don’t like ANY of them between the hours of 7:30am and 8:30pm. Well, no, that’s not strictly true; my eldest is tolerable from 8:22am to 4:18pm because he’s at school; thank God for full day kindergarten.

  26. Lisa LaCourse

    January 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I have a 6 month old little boy right now that I’m pretty sure has been up for an entire week.. (along with 2 other little boys who climb in bed when I do fall asleep). This post was hilarious and really hit home for me! Thanks for the laugh! 🙂

  27. Katie

    January 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I love the Cheerios idea. Glad you kicked Even Steven out!

  28. jennifer

    January 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    My oldest just turned 4, my boyfriend’s daughter (that stays home with me) is almost 3, and I’m due Feb 8th with another girl. Biggest concern for the weeks to come that I have is.. When will I sleep? Breastfeeding a newborn (remembering my oldest didn’t sleep much at night as a baby) and being up throughout the night with the baby, the kids doing their waking at night to go potty and needing me, and the almost 3 yr old not cooperating on napping during the day.. When will I sleep? I already don’t get much sleep… Nap when the baby naps? Can’t if the toddler is up.. So thats a concern.

  29. Mary

    January 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed so that made my life easier. I would go to bed at nine and my husband would handle the 11:00 feeding. Then I would get up at 3:00 and in the morning since I stayed home. Plus he would take all of Friday and Saturday nights and let me sleep through the night on the weekend. It helped that our babies were on formula so they would go 3-4 hours between feedings.
    I found as they became toddlers/preschool age my favorite game was playing doctor. I would lie on the couch while they would use the doctor set, check my heart, give me shots etc. I’m pretty sure I would get a few ten minute naps out of that.

  30. Ingrid

    February 12, 2014 at 2:54 am

    I love it! I laughed so hard. It is all so true! And you have very interesting, clever ideas how to deal with small children. Love it! Thank you.

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