After suffering a sleepless night myself recently, I was compelled to add a lesson on how to cope with exhaustion to my new Working Mum’s Toolkit course: after all, so many parents are coping with broken sleep every single day, whether it be due to children waking in the night or not being able to switch off after hectic days.
Getting through the day after a sleepless night takes some consideration: you’ll immediately be tempted to rely on quick fixes - an extra coffee, or three; a snatched chocolate bar; grazing on endless carbs - but these can be the things that make you feel worse in the long run.
So, what should you do when you’re feeling exhausted and fatigued? Here are just a few pointers to help you through the day:
Today is going to be tricky on the food front, it’s likely you are going to be craving sugar and carbs. When you have sugar or white carbs, your insulin is going to spike, and then you will feel a massive drop that will make you feel more tired. Instead, eat proteins and fats to keep your energy up: this could be scrambled eggs, avocado, a big handful of nuts (brazil, almonds and walnuts are ideal), greek yoghurt with nuts, blueberries and a little honey.
You may be reaching for the caffeine today - but avoid energy drinks altogether as they don’t have the best things in them. Instead have one or two cups of black coffee or tea - if you typically add sugar, try to bring that down. Have all of your coffee before midday, as it can stay in your system for 12 hours - if you are waking in the night, your body could still be breaking down that caffeine. Stop any caffeinated tea after 3pm at the very latest.
I regularly meditate as it tops up your sleep bank. Right now, as a parent, you might be sleep deprived - many of you may have accumulated sleep deprivation. Try doing a 10-20 min meditation every day - you may think you don’t have time, but trust me, it will make you more productive and will help you take on the day with ease. If you need guidance, try the Insight Timer app.
With work today, things may feel difficult or draining so try to shift your day around in terms of what you had planned to do.
Once you get home, and you’ve collected your children from school/childcare, try to switch off from work. Please don’t be a martyr and say you have to work later: is anything that urgent that it must be done tonight? If you log back on to work, or anything that will overload your sensory system, then it will be even harder for you to switch off - your adrenal system will keep firing up and you will feel more awake again.
Start to wind down early. Instead of watching TV or scrolling instagram, do some light stretching, perhaps go for a short walk (10-15 mins) to help you wind down slowly, take a bath, or read a book. Put yourself to bed early and give yourself permission to rest. Don’t get a second wind of energy - focus on getting deep nourishing rest.
I hope these might help. Exhaustion is so challenging, and often very hard to vocalise at work, when we feel colleagues may not understand or we fear showing weakness. Please be kind to yourself and look for ways to make life simpler where you can.
The Working Mums Toolkit: Balance Work, Motherhood and You
Being a working parent is relentless, exhausting and overwhelming: there's so much about being a working mother that no-one tells you... or a guidebook on how to do it. That’s why I created my new course - The Working Mums Toolkit - to help working parents navigate the juggle of balancing careers and home life (plus much more, click here to find out more).
The course is currently available at a launch price of £37 - the price will double post launch. Sign up now and learn how to be less exhausted, have less Mum guilt, more boundaries and confidence. Over 30 tools and resources with mini audio, videos & checklists.