How to be a mum when you’re exhausted


Some days, like today, I’m just a bone-weary exhausted mum. It comes from all the doing. It’s days like this when we are told to ‘just take a break’ or ‘be kind to yourself’ or ‘ignore the to do list’, but that would start a domino effect that I’m just not ready for. As much as I’d like to take a day to myself to rest and get my emotional equilibrium back, it’s just not possible right now.

I know, I know – we have to make it possible. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Honestly? That’s just another thing on my To Do list that won’t get done. The pressure to take the pressure off ourselves as mums is annoying at best, detrimental at worst.

In the meantime, I cope. It’s what mums do.

Exhausted mum days - 5 tips to manage days when being a mum is exhausting

We hold our chin up and we get on with the business of living, working, parenting, managing and solving. Here are the things that help me cope best on exhausted days:

1. I tell my husband exactly what I need. Lots of husbands want to help, but they don’t really know how. And there is nothing worse than being knee-deep in shit and the husbie saying, “is there anything I can do to help?” Because Omifreakinggod would you just look around already there are a million things you can do to help!!!!!! 

It doesn’t work that way.

I don’t know why it doesn’t work that way either, but it doesn’t. All I know is that succinct instructions on how to shovel shit is what men need. So I say, “Grab that red-handled spade over there, the one leaning against the wall 20 cm to the left of the back door, and bring it back here and scoop up the furthermost shit first and take it to the shit heap located 2 metres from the left-hand-side garage door and leave it there. Then come back for further instructions…” Yep, that’s the level of instruction that I think men need when we want them to help.

If that’s womansplaining, so be it. It gets the help done.

2. I time out of the school lunch Olympics. I unfollowed the Look at My Kids’ Superior Lunchbox groups on Facey a long time ago (my heart was starting to hurt even more than my eyeballs), but that doesn’t mean I started throwing chip packets into the lunch bags. I take pride in making a homemade, generally litter-free, healthy lunchbox for the kids each day.

Or I usually do. This time of year, when I’m crawling along the home stretch self-flagellating myself as I go, I throw the chip packet in along with a couple of pieces of fruit, a Vegemite wrap and a prayer. I don’t even bother with a lunch box – straight into the insulated bag it all goes. Cheers, kids.

3. I embrace the ‘meat and three vege’ retro movement. Dinner does not need to be a ‘recipe’ every night. Most nights, getting good food on the table is all we need to do. The ‘meat and three vege’ standard of our youth was actually a pretty good basis for a healthy meal. It takes approximately 47 seconds to prepare some steak and salad for dinner. Even quicker if you make it a saus and roast vege combo or an eggs, beans, avocado and tomatoes meal. 

Dinner does not need to be a ‘recipe’ every night.

4. I take a daily holiday. This is more the ‘you’ve won a half-hour holiday’ moment. I put my headphones on, switch the podcast to play and out the door I go. No matter how busy work is during the day, I owe myself that mini-holiday at some stage during the day.

I owe myself a mini-holiday at some stage during the day.

5. I look forward to stuff. For a long time I got myself caught in a really bad habit of not looking forward to things because there was such a lot to do to make them happen in the first place.

Take Christmas, for example. There is a such a lot of work involved in making Christmas wonderful. It can be easy to will Christmas away because you’re just not ready. Well, I make myself be ready. I make my lists and plot my calendars and basically do everything I have to do to be organised enough to enjoy the occasion – to even enjoy the process. Otherwise, what’s it all for, really? Start everything earlier than you think you need to because that’s how long things actually take.

How are you coping right now?

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than 10 years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

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  1. Jennifer

    Great Blog Bron!
    I think it also comes down to how can you address the overwhelm. Whether its deciding what to wear in the morning, or looking at the kitchen after the morning rush. The feeling that there is just too much to do, not enough time/energy/money/etc is seriously draining.
    As for parenting, while feeling overwhelmed….I find taking the kids to the park or the pools while you can listen to a podcast, or read a book ticks off two things. Also, I’m a partial to popping by a cafe or icecream shop on the way home from school, for a quick chat with the kids with the bonus of not having to clean up after their afterschool break and actually getting 20min to sit down face to face for easy chats about their day.
    Loving the new site Bron, its beautiful.

    • Maxabella

      I love the after-school cafe visit, Jennifer. I’m going to try that with my three. On a Monday, i think it would really help.



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