Choose Joy: 5 Parent Hacks When You Are Tired

Feeling tired? Exhausted? Here are 5 Parent Hacks to choose joy when you are tired.

I woke up exhausted. My twins have been sick and no one has slept well. When you’re tired, trying to rally your energy for the busy-ness of training tiny humans to be decent human beings becomes a gargantuan task. The cooking and cleaning and dishwashing that you have to do. The messy rooms, the toys strewn about, and even the refrigerator covered in your favorite drawings can seem like a scene from an apocalyptic movie.

And what exactly does a mom do when she’s tired? …and she’s always tired!



Try to do everything or nothing?

All of the above?

Well, after a quick cry and a desperate prayer for help as I got dressed, I decided to choose joy by playing my favorite song, getting a snack, getting out of the house for a drive, and chatting with my bff for 5 minutes. Here are 5 Parent Hacks When You Are Tired:

  1. Energize

Take a minute to figure out why you are actually tired. Sleep deprivation is a joy killer. As a parent of twins and there was not a lot of sleep for the first few years and it was HARD. If you have young children, give yourself some grace and try the parenting hack below. For me, hungry registers as tired and this mom can go from friendly to hangry (hungry and angry) in zero to 60 seconds. Energize yourself by grabbing a healthy snack, drinking some water, or taking a nap when your kids nap. Having a little energy boost will increase your capacity for joy.

*** Parent hack- Go to the bathroom and splash cold water on your face or wash your face to give yourself a refresh. Bonus points if you can do this without a tiny person pulling on your clothes to tattle on their sibling who is jumping on the couch.

  1. Practice Gratitude

Changing your perspective when you can’t change circumstances is one way to choose joy through exhaustion. One strategy is to exchange the words “ I have to…” to “I get to…” So, saying “I get to fold the laundry” instead of “I have to fold the laundry” can remind us that we live in better circumstances than we think. Have you seen the pictures of women and children walking miles and carrying water to bring it to their homes for drinking, cooking, and bathing? Ever had your power go out or pipes freeze and not been able to flush the toilet or cook on the stove? It seems like a basic necessity, but running hot and cold water piped into a washing machine and electricity to run a dryer is a luxury compared to many places in the world. Access to a laundromat is still a luxury compared to hand washing clothes in a tub. And we even get to watch television while we fold our laundry! Don’t forget that training tiny humans means they need to learn responsibility and they can learn to help with sorting and folding too to lighten your load.

*** Parent hack- Use your fingers and count off ten things you are grateful for. Bonus parenting points if you get your kids to try it too!

  1. Play Music

Music has the ability to change our moods. Sad songs make us feel sad, happy songs can boost our moods. I absolutely love dancing so dance music with a fast beat or upbeat pop songs always seem to give me energy. I call this the fake it ‘til you make it strategy. When you are tired and feel like your energy is sapped, playing music with a fast beat makes you want to move around faster. Research even shows that listening to happy music and even help you access happy memories more quickly. So give it a try by putting on your favorite tunes on and maybe even dancing a bit! When I was recovering from surgery, I couldn’t bust the moves because I could bust my stitches! So I figured out the parenting hack below to still dance and play with my kids.

*** Parent hack- Grab a scarf, dishtowel, or whatever is handy and swing it around to the music. You can do this while sitting down and it’s a fun way to “dance” even when you are tired.

  1. Drive

Putting the kids in the car and going for a drive can give mama a much needed break. Okay, so this one requires a vehicle. Hop in and get out of the house. Basic concept here is that you need a change of scenery. Change your tired feeling by changing your setting. When I was exhausted from a day at work, I used to put my twins in the car and go for a short drive down a country road. I could listen to music and the kids could look out the windows at the idyllic scenery. I would play with them by asking questions about what objects they saw, what color they were, what sounds the animals we saw made, counting what they saw and playing eye-spy. Bright yellow wild flowers, black and brown cows, and red barns were all part of the experience on the drive. Instead of resorting to electronics or television, we all got out of the house and did a mini-exploration. This was a life saver for a tired mama of twin toddlers who would otherwise have had to chase them around outside while they ran in two different directions and tried to ingest rocks or flower petals.

***Parent hack- Drive through anything is the name of the game. While the kids are already in the car, squeeze in an errand by hitting the drive through dry cleaner, pharmacy, fast food place, wherever. You may be exhausted, but pat yourself on the back for taking one to-do off the list without having to take the kids out of the car.

  1. Call a friend

Choose joy by getting some perspective from your friends. Mamas know what other mamas go through and your best mom friend is also totally cool with a 3 minute phone call in which one of you hangs up because of an unexpected baby cry. Mom friends can cheer you up and share a little love, reminding you to hang in there. Even a brief chat with another adult will boost your day and you can provide some support to your friends when you call them. I recommend having a range of mamas to talk to because sometimes you want to bounce an idea off someone whose kids are older and who’s been through it. If you are exhausted because you’ve been up all night with a colicky baby, asking your friend what she did to survive can help. I know there are plenty of online groups and text messaging or social media works too, but I am specifically recommending a phone call so you get to hear another real adult person’s voice. Moms need that! Reaching out might even get you some more great parent hacks!

***Parent hack- Ask for what you need. Well meaning friends can offer solutions to problems when we really just want empathy. Clarify by saying what you need ie; “ Hey I’m tired and I need some encouragement. Can you tell me one way I’m being a great mom?” or “This “no” to everything is exhausting me. I really need some advice. How did you handle the “no” phase? With your toddler?” Remember, what works with one family might not work for your family so stick with what’s true for you and your tiny humans.

What do you do to choose joy when you’re tired? Post your parent hacks in the comments below.

1 thought on “Choose Joy: 5 Parent Hacks When You Are Tired”

  1. Very helpful and practical! Clear steps – things you can do when tired. I especially how you distilled the parent hacks at the end of each point. Great perspective on gratitude. Cut to the chase and use your 10 fingers to list things you are grateful for! Love it!!

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