Breaking Up with my Tired Mom Identity

by Katelyn Denning May 01, 2024

mom taking a nap next to her baby

I’ll never forget the moment when I finally saw how others saw me: as an exhausted parent.

It was before my third child was born. I was working a full-time corporate job, managing house projects in our new home, growing my coaching business, and parenting two little kids.

My in-laws were visiting and before I could even open my mouth to tell them how I was or what I’d been up to, my mother-in-law said, “I know, you’re so exhausted.”

I didn't need to say anything. She knew. She could see it in the dark circles under my eyes, my forced smile, the slowness of my movements, and the dozens of other telltale signs.

And she was right.

Because even though I might have told her how I’d been doing so well at work, keeping up at home, and even signing new coaching clients, these updates would have been shadowed by the sheer exhaustion I was feeling.

It was at that moment that I realized it wasn’t a secret I was hiding very well. Anyone else in my life who was paying any attention would see the same thing: an exhausted parent trying to do it all while raising young kids.

It wasn’t long after that I decided that title wasn’t one I wanted. It wasn't who I wanted to be.

Who I actually wanted to be was someone who enjoys my life instead of being exhausted by it.

  • I wanted to relax without feeling guilty for not using that time to cross something off my to-do list.
  • I wanted to make time for hobbies and activities just for fun instead of doing only what I had to do.
  • I wanted to feel rested and well taken care of.

And mostly, I didn’t want my kids to see their mom as someone who was too tired to do anything with them.

Breaking the Habit

After the initial disappointment that this was who I had become, I decided to try and change my image - from tired mom to rested mom. From exhausted to content.

And you know who I had the most trouble convincing? Me.

Being “tired” all the time had become a habit.

It was the standard response I gave when asked “how are you?”.
It was an identity I felt comfortable in because it was what I knew.

Who was I if I wasn’t tired? I wasn't even sure.

If you’re also stuck thinking about yourself as someone who’s always tired,the first step is trying to do what you can to minimize the tiredness:

  • Go to bed earlier, even if it means not watching your show.
  • Take naps when your kids nap, even if you’re not historically a ‘napper’.
  • Be where your feet are instead of mentally being in your to-do list. (For me this looks like actually watching our Friday night family movie, instead of multitasking.)

If you want to stop being tired all the time, you have to start doing less and resting more.

Changing your View

It’s one thing to say you want to prioritize rest and another thing entirely to actually prioritize it when there are so many other things you could be doing.

It requires a shift in how you think about rest.

Instead of rest being this thing that takes time away from being productive. Think of rest as the most productive thing you can do.

When you’re more rested, you have more energy!

You might technically have fewer hours in the day to do things, because you’re going to bed earlier or spending time napping or relaxing, but that time is often offset by the energy you gain.

Everyone’s experience might be different, but when I prioritized rest, I was able to focus more. I started having ideas again and feeling creative.

And when I feel creative, I feel like an interesting person. I feel more fun.

With more rest, I found it easier to be present - at home and at work - and slowly, my default response changed from being tired, to being good or happy or content.

This whole exercise challenged my beliefs about rest and what it takes to be productive.

I no longer believe that just because you work and have young kids, your life has to be exhausting.

I believe we perpetuate that stereotype by trying to do too much and resting too little.

And because we accept it as normal, we don’t stop to question if that’s what we actually want.

Now...

  • I believe in sleep and rest.
  • And I believe that rest is one of the most productive things you can do if you want to show up for your kids and your life in a way that feels good.

What do you believe?




Katelyn Denning

Author



Also in Conversations

family on vacation
10 Ways to Ensure Your Next Family Road Trip is a Success

by ParentCo.

Family road trips don't have to be a National Lampoon-esque disaster. Especially if you keep these tips in mind.

Continue Reading

Smiling girl playing on the swing
Why Awe Should Be on Your Summer Vacation Checklist

by ParentCo.

The most powerful way that our children can be transformed by a trip is if they feel a sense of awe during this time. Here's how to bring awe along.

Continue Reading

woman and child touching faces
This is For the Motherless on Mother’s Day

by Liz Petrone

I know Mother's Day kind of blows. I'm here to tell you, lovies, that I think it's time to lower the bar.

Continue Reading