You shuffle around the kitchen on a Monday morning, putting on a pot of coffee—only to realize you forgot to add the grounds. Or the water, or even the coffee pot. You might just be a mombie (mom + zombie,) and unless you like drinking plain hot water, something needs to change.
Though it’s not the kind of term a doctor would use, we mamas here at Relay have turned into full-blown mombies ourselves more than once. Some of us have new babies and toddlers (bye, sleep schedule!) Some of us have big kids involved in so many extracurriculars, sports, and clubs that we can’t keep our schedules straight. And some of us have both going on at once. So we try to be super mom, being attentive and supportive every minute of the day, no matter how much we need to sleep or relax. And, while it seems like we’re doing good, we’re only hurting ourselves and our kids by ignoring our own needs.
It’s not easy to get back up when you feel like you’re in a slump, and no single tip or trick will work for everybody, but it’s the season of change and new beginnings—and our self care routines could use some spring cleaning. So from us to you, here are some of the self care strategies that help keep us sane while momming.
How do you know if you’re a mombie? Look for these 5 signs
1. You’re so tired. All the time.
2. You often find it difficult to concentrate—your mind tends to wander.
3. Commitments, responsibilities, and even simple tasks keep slipping your mind.
4. You’re more irritable than you normally are.
5. This has been happening for a while now and it’s not getting better on its own.
These symptoms do NOT mean that anything is wrong with you. And being a mombie is not something to poke fun at. We’ve all been there, and it feels terrible. A lot of the symptoms mombies show boil down to two big causes: exhaustion and chronic stress.
Should you just power through it?
Please don’t. Pushing yourself when you’re mentally and physically exhausted leads to way more negative outcomes than positive ones. Here are some of the reasons why:
Sleep deprivation is unhealthy for you and your family
It makes everything from chopping vegetables to driving a car more dangerous. And it’s not just because you’re at risk of dozing off. Here are some other side effects of not getting your rest.
- Exhaustion impairs your memory. You’re more likely to forget about items on your to-do list, work tasks, and even basic things like paying a bill or bringing the grocery list to the store. And with kids to care for, that’s far from ideal.
- Your brain power is on low-battery mode. That means it’s difficult or impossible to make quick judgement calls and use critical thinking skills. It also means your physical reaction time is delayed. And that can be dangerous.
Some people also experience mood changes and decreased tolerance for BS when they’re tired. We get it, us too. We’ll get into strategies for more sleep later.
Chronic stress is unhealthy—even more than you’d expect
Maybe all the things slipping through the cracks these days makes you a stressed out mom. Maybe the responsibility of guiding your child on the path towards independent, functioning adulthood is daunting. Whatever the case, chronic stress leads to all sorts of undesirable outcomes.
- Chronic stress is different than normal bad stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce cortisol. It’s a hormone that helps us get out of a bad situation in the short term, but kind of makes a mess of things when the cause of our stress (and the cortisol) stick around long-term. Everything from our mental state to the quality of our sleep to our blood pressure is fair game, so for the sake of your personal health, it’s best to find a way to deal with stress.
- When you’re stressed, you are unable to be as empathetic or patient as you would normally be. And as moms, that’s pretty much what we’re expected to do day-in, day-out. Maybe it manifests in yelling when the kids are out of control. Maybe you are unkind to yourself when you are truly doing the best you can under the circumstances.
If reading about stress is stressing you out, don’t worry. We’re done talking about problems. Now, let’s talk solutions.
Have we convinced you that self-care is important yet?
We’ve covered all the reasons you should take care of yourself, so here are some ideas of how to actually get it done in between working and momming and the rest of your schedule. Every situation is different, but here are some strategies that have worked for the moms around here.
1. Ask for help. You have every right to
Your partner is just as responsible for watching the kids as you are, so if you don’t usually take them up on it, start to. If that’s not an option, ask a family member or a sitter. Have a spa day at home or enjoy an activity you find relaxing while they take the reigns for a few hours.
2. Practice good sleep hygiene
If your kids are making it through the night but you are still unable to get your 8 hours, try taking a look at your bedtime routine. Quick tips include limiting naps to 30 minutes, limiting caffeine in the evening, keeping your bedroom a quiet peaceful place that is for sleeping (and nothing else!) and sticking to a wind-down routine in the evenings. Cortisol, the stress hormone we talked about earlier, will keep you awake and give your mind plenty of opportunity to race while you should be sleeping—so winding down and de-stressing after a long day is essential.
3. With babies, take naps to keep up
If you’re losing sleep at night for reasons that can’t be avoided with sleep hygiene alone (like a new baby,) make up for it during the day. Try to nap while they nap until they can make it through the night. Exhaustion is no joke, and it’s way easier to be your best self when you get enough sleep.
4. Keep up with friends, family, hobbies, and relationships
You are everything you were before you became “mom,” and forgetting to make time for things you like to do can be distressing. So, with babysitter, partner, or grandparent on retainer, go out and do things you love doing. As well, having the love and support of important people in your life can significantly help with stress.
5. Take some time to think about the things that stress you out
Sometimes we are stressed out and can’t even put our finger on why. We can’t solve anything without knowing what to fix. And once you know what, if anything, is stressing you out, you will have way more power to fix it. Even little things like picking out clothes and planning meals in advance can take so much weight off your shoulders. Pro Tip: do your contemplating during the day—don’t let it keep you up at night!
It’s worth mentioning that if you are getting adequate sleep, dealing with your stress in positive ways and still feel zombie-like, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help.
What do you do when you feel like a mombie? Tell us in the comments!