Why mums are so tired all the time

Being tired, it kind of goes hand in hand with being a parent right?  From newborn baby to non-sleeping 18 month olds.  From tantrumming terrible two year olds to sassy threenagers.  And I’m only three weeks into having a four year old so I’m not even sure what to call four year olds yet, but I’m guessing it starts with an f….  (edit: I now know, it’s the f*%&!g fours) The question is just why are mums so tired all of the time?

Earlier this week I read “Motherhood Exhaustion isn’t just sleep deprivation” and it isn’t (although sleep deprivation certainly forms a large part of my exhaustions.)  Motherhood, parenthood even, being tired comes from so much more than not getting 8 hours sleep a night.

From the day I peed on the stick my priorities shifted, my mindset changed.  That day I became a mother.  Pretty much from that day forward I’ve been tired….

I expected the pregnancy insomnia, the life changing shift that was about to happen, the seismic event that was going hand in hand with bringing a human into the world.  I expected that I’d be a little tired due to the fact that I had grown and popped out (or had dramatically sliced out) but I also expected that to go away when he started sleeping.  But it didn’t.

In fact, it’s only intensified with a second pregnancy, a second overly dramatic birth and a second born child who still doesn’t like to sleep.

But being tired is more than not sleeping.  I am tired because I never switch off.  Ever.

From the moment I wake up (in the middle of the night for those night feeds that are still going on…..) to the second my head hits the pillow my brain is whirring.  Switched on, because I am a mother.

Morning times, headed downstairs, what to feed them both for breakfast – cheerios, it’s always cheerios – whilst mentally preparing to get us out of the door on time for school, remembering where uniform has been put, if lunchboxes have been made, has everyone who needs a wee had a wee?!

The school run, driving the roads with my most precious cargo in the back, is it safe to pull out?  Will we be late, rushing, rushing, will that car cut me up, will the lights turn red before I’m through?  Running one into school with the baby on my hip, dragging the other.  Depositing him at the classroom, big kiss and wave goodbye before heading off again.  Mind whirring, will he eat his lunch, will he have a good day.  Will he be picked on?  Will he do the picking on?!  The baby still on my hip, pulling my hair, demanding my attention as my mind is on his brother.

Headed home, driving.  Keeping the baby awake as a car ride sleep is naptime suicide.  Singing nursery rhymes, making observations loudly out of the window.  Mind racing ahead to what’s next, what time will he sleep, what will we do until then?  Is he stimulated enough, do I do enough with him.  Will today be the day I pull out the crafts and let him loose.  Why haven’t I already?  Why am I parenting my second child so differently to the first.  Will he hold it against me?  All the time smiling, continuing with my day.

Spending a morning doing the repetitive tasks that the baby so loves, passing me the tea, inspecting my teeth with his fingers, following me round.  Changing nappies, battling nap time, singing songs, reading stories.   Heading on play dates, staying at home.  Meeting others, being the two of us.  Handing out cuddle after cuddle, teaching him kisses.

Heading back to collect the biggest, same drive, precious cargo on board.

How was his day?  Did he behave, more importantly was he happy.  Was the baby happy?  Is school too much for my only just turned 4 year old.  Questioning my decisions, second guessing.  Still smiling.

Attention diverted between the two of them, mum guilt as I put ones needs above the others.  One crying, one laughing.  Switching over, the other crying.  Both crying.  Everyone laughing.  No one laughing.  Fixing fights, watching moments between them.  Working out when I need to step away and when I need to step in.  Questioning decisions, was I right to step in?  Was I right to leave them to it?

Feeding them, fighting over the fussy eater, working out meals that they will both eat.  That are packed full of vegetables.  Slipping up, feeding cake, feeling guilty.  Slipping up feeding takeaway, feeling guilty. Food refusal, feeding toast, feeling guilty.

Bathtime, clean them, milk and bed.  Do they get to watch their shows or not?  How many stories?  Should I be encouraging them to read themselves.

Settle them down to sleep, tuck them in, scare away the monsters.  Big kisses.  Eyes fluttering shut.

Down the stair, ears pricked, always ready to run always alert.  Feed myself.  Get to bed, check the boys, more kisses, more love, head on pillow. Still alert.  Fall asleep, the sound of a baby crying…. jump up settle them, back to bed.

Not switching off, always ready if they need me, always there even when I’m not physically there.  Mind whizzing, parenting.

That is why I’m tired all of the time.

That is why mums are so tired all of the time.

why mums are so tired all the time - parenting exhaustion - motherhood exhaustion

The truth behind motherhood exhaustion, why mums are so tired, why moms are so tired, parenting



  1. November 2, 2016 / 12:24 am

    Loool spot on! I’m actually exhausted from reading it all, but it’s what we literally go through! My twins are only 2 but every time I feel stressed/exhausted Ijust remind myself I have 16 more years till their 18

  2. November 2, 2016 / 7:23 am

    I often wonder why I am so tired!! Now I know. This sums it up perfectly! I am ill and it is taking ages to shift. I just can’t rest enough to recover.

  3. November 2, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    This is an amazing post! I love it. Everything about it is so very true. Sleep deprivation is only a very very small part of the exhaustion we feel, it is about so much more!

  4. November 2, 2016 / 10:35 pm

    Oh I totally get this. It’s not even the lack of sleep is it? It’s having to be constantly alert and aware that if they need you, you’ve got to be there.

  5. November 4, 2016 / 7:01 am

    You’re SO right – the exhaustion of being a parent is in many ways about never being able to switch off completely. Even when you’re alone, you’re constantly thinking about preparing meals, tidying up, are they getting on okay, what will they need when they get home? #effitfriday

  6. November 4, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Yup. I tried to explain it to the hubster that I constantly and I mean constantly live my life two steps ahead. I would love to ‘live in the moment’ the way people go on about, but in order to keep my child safe/alive/happy/you know, the stuff as a mother it’s your job to do, I can’t. Maybe one day? Hope you get some rest tonight xxx #effitfriday

  7. November 4, 2016 / 10:04 am

    This is so true. The husband is always commenting that my I never switch off, I’m always thinking about the next thing to organise! It’s all the responsibility. I’m having a weekend away with the girls so will be having a long overdue recharge 🙂 #effitfriday

  8. November 4, 2016 / 5:02 pm

    I am so tired!! I’m trying to stop myself moaning about it because to be honest this is just normal life now. I’m going to save “I’m tired,” for when my legs have stopped functioning altogether. #effitfriday

  9. November 5, 2016 / 7:40 am

    Yup. We never switch off. I have to say, last week, even though I was working hard, and dealing with quite tough stuff, with the refugee centre, it was so good for me cos for the first time in 10.5 years, I did switch off. I came back feeling ready to cope again!

    Thanks for hosting #effitfriday

  10. November 5, 2016 / 10:18 am

    I’m so with you on this. I am always tired. I went to bed shortly after my eldest the other day as I predicted a bad night with the baby who’s teething. And last night when I woke in the night I was debating how best to fix our headboard. Seriously go to sleep woman!!! Thanks for hosting as always #effitfriday

  11. November 5, 2016 / 1:13 pm

    Absolutely!! We deserve some hibernation!

  12. November 7, 2016 / 10:32 am

    Totally agree, it is relentless and demanding. You use all your resources and totally wiped out some days X #effitfriday

  13. January 2, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    Totally agree on all this. I will also say though….go get your iron levels checked. If you are even moderately anemic an iron supplement can make a HUGE difference in how you feel. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until recently when I almost fainted but yeah….Floradix is an oral version vs the constipating crap they gave me during pregnancy and I seriously feel like a different person.

    All the blood loss from menstruation and the drain that pregnancy, childbirth and nursing puts on your body is way way more than most of us realize or think about.

    xoxo Dani

  14. Laura (theditzymummy)
    January 13, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    I really love this post and enjoyed reading it because it is so true. I am always tired which is expected I suppose but then I feel like a fraud for saying that because I’m not ‘at work’ anymore. I’m a stay at home mum. But I’m even more tired than I used to be. I am busier than I have ever been and I love every second of it but I’m still so tired all the time and you are spot on: it’s because we don’t switch off. Ever. Thank you!!! X

  15. January 21, 2017 / 6:27 am

    Yes! This has hit the nail on the head! I am doing all these things but i dont drive so me and the kids walk everywhere! I also have a very ill family member and normal everyday stress and car troubles (hubby drives) and i havent slept more then 2-3 hours for the past 2 months because at least one of the children have been ill and up at night! But hey im a mum and thats how it goes we may complain but we dont stop and never will…well until our legs stop working or our heads fall off.

  16. Vk
    May 7, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    This is well said ….
    Some times i cant help pulling my hair out

  17. October 30, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    This is a pretty accurate description of my day too Laura, if it’s any consolation : ) I am a walking zombie, and I realize that even though I’m exhausted in the morning, I’m totally on point all day because I have to be, and as soon as my two kids go to bed I just collapse. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years! A friend of mine and I joke that we’re going to have to rent a hotel room one night and sleep there—it’s the only way!

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