Three Things Not to Say To a Tired Mommy

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Dear mom, are you exhausted, worn down, and discouraged?

Do you just feel like giving up some days?

Do you feel like nothing you say or do is getting through to your kids?

I wrote this post back in December 2014 when I’d reached the end of my rope. My 3 year old stopped napping, the pressure everything I needed to get done while he slept bore down on me, and I was exhausted, stressed out, and feeling guilty for yelling at him……again.

When a mommy of littles is tired and exhausted, it's easy to answer her with trite answers that are empty of meaning. Here are three things not to say.

The words are blurred on the screen as I type.

This is not the way I intended to start the New Year. At all.

In my mind I saw my home all organized, Christmas neatly put away, my blog plans all organized and my goals neatly written. I saw hot cinnamon rolls oozing sugary goodness on the table as my family sat smiling and ready to greet 2015. I saw New Year’s eve with my husband laughing as we munched on snacks and hoped that our neighbors would keep their own celebrations to a dull roar.

I didn’t envision it this way at all.

But discouragement and guilt have piled on my shoulders until I can barely walk. Exhaustion has taken over my body, laundry is piled in the bathroom, toys are scattered all over the floor, dishes litter the kitchen counters, and my kids have watched way too much T.V.

I curse my 20-year old flippant attitude of health, because poor decisions in my youth have brought me to a place of chronic fatigue and adrenal glands deprived of the cortisol necessary to face this moment when my entire family is battling a virus that has hung on for a week.

Yes, I know. Every family battles viruses. Every mom must pull graveyard for days on end to nurse her family back to health. Even when she is also feeling ill.

And that fact is why I have beaten myself up for days telling myself “Suck it up, lazy!”

But today I hit the wall of desperation as I unsuccessfully tried to get my three year old to nap. As I laid there rubbing his back for 2 1/2 hours (I almost typed years – because it really felt that long), I watched as my own desire to nap seeped away like sand between my fingers.

Tears came to my eyes as I realized: yet another day when I will have to suck it up, yet another night when I will tend to my sick babies who need me, yet another day when my body will lack the rest it needs to get well.

My own lack of good health makes it harder for me to recover. If only I could rewind time and make better choices so that I could be the wife and my mother my family needs.

If only…

…but if onlys are no consolation to me now.

And why am I pouring all of this out?

This is likely the most depressing post I’ve ever written.


Because…well, one reason is because my blogging besties urged me to open up about my struggles with motherhood. My struggles with fatigue. My struggles with the desperation that chokes me until I can barely breathe.

Because I know there are other moms out there who are facing the same scenario, who have no one to help, who have no one to call to take the kids for a day, who have no one nearby who can come and assist them while they grab an hour of much-needed rest.

Because there are other moms out there who tell themselves to “suck it up” and call themselves lazy.

Because there are other moms out there who mother while battling chronic illnesses that make a tough job even tougher.

As moms of young kids who face these times of discouragement and exhaustion…

There are three things not to say to a tired mommy

We do not need to hear:

1. “Every mom goes through that.” We know that already. This phrase is a thinly veiled response that reads, “Get over it. Why should motherhood be any easier for you than it was for the rest of us.”

2. “Treasure these moments because when your kids are grown, you’ll miss times like this.” Not only is this phrase a guilt-tripper (something no mom needs, because every mom already carries around far too much guilt as it is), it is not even logical. Let’s be honest, shall we? No mom ever misses feeling exhausted literally to tears. There is so much I will miss about my kids being little, but endless sleepless nights are not one of them.

3. “Call me if you need me.” No, I wont call. Not because I am isolating myself or because I don’t need you. I wont call because I already feel guilty enough for being tired and cranky with my family – I don’t want to add “bothering my friends” to the ever-growing pile. And while I know you wouldn’t consider me bothersome, it just feels that way, and I would venture to guess that while everyone says “call me” no one ever really does.

And yet, we know that you want to encourage us and remind us that there will be better days ahead.

It would be totally unfair to share what we don’t need to hear without letting you know what we do need to hear.

There are 3 practical ways to encourage and reach out to tired moms of littles when they need it the most.

Three things to say to a tired mommy

We need to hear: 

1. “Its okay.” Sometimes the permission to feel desperate and shed a few tears is just what we need. It sounds too simplistic, and yet we’ve been conditioned to think that we are supposed to be super-mom and just breeze through these stages with a smile and life that is neatly tied with a bow. Sometimes the permission to go have a good cry is the best therapy!

I’ve just got through chatting with my besties who validated my feelings of desperation. They said it was okay. I cried. I cried the ugly cry. And I already feel like I can almost tackle another day.

2. “May I stop by on Wednesday and bring dinner/watch the kids/clean your house/take the kids to the park/(insert  act of kindness here)?”  If you truly want to help, be specific. Mention a specific time to help out in a specific way. This simple act alone will be like Christmas, Easter, Birthday, and every other vague bank holiday all wrapped in one!

3. “May I pray with you right now?” My dad is famous for this. He doesn’t say “I’m praying for you” – and there is nothing wrong  in saying that. I say it all the time. But he actually stops what he’s doing and says, “Let’s pray” and he prays. And I cry. And I always feel so much better afterward.  Prayer is such a powerful tool, and we often diminish its value. But truth be told, when we truly have the faith to believe that God’s peace can come and calm our hearts “beyond all understanding”, it will. It really will!

Dear desperate mom, I understand. I’m there. It’s okay. We’ll get through this one day at a time. But when you’re in the thick of it, its okay. Its okay to let you kids watch a little too much T.V. for a day or two….or five. Its okay to cry a little. Its okay to vent to friends who understand and care. Its okay to say, “I will not miss this day when my kids are old!”

But when you do – be sure to take a moment and get down on your knees, gather your kidlets in your arms and hug them tight. Look them in the eye and tell them you love them. Grab their favorite book and read to them. Sing their favorite song.

Because we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck here.

So, this is what I’m going to go do right now.

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  1. Thank you for this, Rosilind. I’m so with you here. We have been sick for a couple of weeks in my house, even Christmas day. I’m honestly so tired of “sucking it up.” Thanks for the encouragement! Prayers for your healing :).

    1. Oh Candace – we were sick on Christmas Day as well. 🙁 Being real helps so much – sometimes just talking about it and learning that we don’t have to strong always.

  2. Rosilind, this is a GREAT post!! And I’m not too far behind you on that big, ugly, cry. I expect it’ll hit before the end of the week. Thanks for being so candid. We all need to hear that “it’s ok” from time to time. I AM praying for you and your family RIGHT NOW while I get supper. Biessings to you, your family and your year ahead!

  3. Yep, I get it. The one thing I disagree w/is your first example, that of, “Every mom goes through that.” Personally, I take it as, “You’re not alone. I’ve been there, I’ve gotten through, and you will too.” For me, it’s letting me know that I’m not alone, and we’ll all survive, somehow.

    Cause somedays, you wonder.

    1. I think perhaps that statement probably speaks different things to different people…and the way its said, also conveys varying messages. And yes – some days I wonder. Today I’m really wondering. hahaha!

  4. Visiting from the Mom 2 Mom link-up…and so glad I did. I feel like I could have written this post. With my daughter’s medical issues last month (and on going) and then some of my own (which they still can’t figure out), this is my life. I’m hanging on by a thread most days. And then, my daughter got a horrible cold and cough over Christmas…and now I have it. We are in that “just can’t catch a break” phase of life. I’m exhausted. I’m desperate for answers. I’m desperate for healing…for both of us.

    #2 of the first list has always bothered me. I think people mean “you will miss having the littles” but it really comes across as flippant and uncaring for our current situation.

    #2 of the second list is so true. My best friend will tell me “Call me if you need anything. And I mean it. If you need a play date or for us to take A or you need dinner, call me.” She isn’t overly specific but she gives me specific examples of what she is able to do for me (she also has a 2.5yr old who is my daughters bff but also has a 6m old so she knows her limits). I’m more likely to call her than someone who just says, “call me.”

    1. Oh – I am praying for you today Julie. It is so hard when our children have medical issues – it not only worries us, but adds to the normal every-day stru♪gles. Thank you so much for stopping by to share. We need to stick together.

  5. Love this! Not that you’ve had such a difficult time, but that you so openly share your heart so that others will know they aren’t alone. I’m sharing this to MMC’s facebook page for other mamas to read.
    Thank you for your honesty. <3

    1. I am learning that as I open up more, not only am I blessed to find so many other women struggle in the same area, and not only is it therapeutic, but it opens the discussion to learn from one another.

  6. I appreciate you for writing this post. My problem is I’ll be so tired sometimes that I end up yelling at my kids for whatever reason, then feel guilty five minutes later because I then think of the families who lost their children and that I should be more grateful to have mine around. Uuggghhh. Sometimes it’s a constant battle between being appreciative and loving being a mom versus wanting to have some alone time so that I don’t drive myself crazy in the long run. Moral of the story: prayer does work!

  7. I hear you. I think I’m guilty of romanticizing the early years, when my big kids were all little, remembering how cute they were, and how simple life was then, but forgetting the exhaustion, the tears, the insecurity. Life’s still hard, it’s just a different hard. And I’m still tired. Toddlers are physically exhausting, and teens are emotionally exhausting, and with kids from 3-17 in my house, let’s just say, I could really use a nap! Thank you for permission to say, “I am NOT going to miss this.”

  8. We do get tired and even exhausted as mothers. A nap usually does us good. Sorry your family is battling the flu and it can drain us spiritually also. Thank you for sharing your awesome post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.”

  9. That was a post I needed you to send me just a few years back. It was sooooooooooooo hard. Soo hard. And I think I told you something about treasuring these years. I sure didn’t mean the moments when we are cleaning up from sickness or exhausted in the middle of the night. They just grow too fast and then are gone. What I didn’t know was that there were other moms out there that were tired, depressed, and stressed. Love you!!

    1. Ohhh – I knew exactly what you meant. They do grow so fast and there is already so much about babyhood that I miss. I didn’t know, either, how many other moms struggled like this.

  10. Before I became a mom I had no idea how challenging it would be. I knew sleepless nights would be hard, but there is nothing really that can prepare you for that. I find myself now getting more and more irritated with friends who don’t have kids yet thinking they know how hard it is or thinking I’m just complaining. Motherhood really can be difficult. There are days when you feel like you can conquer it all and then there are days you just feel like you can’t give any more of yourself. Wishing you much more grace to yourself, energy, and a nap. 🙂 When I find myself getting stressed to the brim, I try to pray, read God’s Word, take a nap, or have a date night with my husband. And of course the last two are easier said than done. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this post at the SHINE Blog Hop!

  11. Oh girl, I’m sending love and prayers to you right now. I know what it’s like to suffer with fatigue so strong that it makes your limbs feel weak. That fatigue that makes even pulling up the covers a chore. I so hope that it passes for you and find the time to get the rest you so desperately need <3

    Stopping by from the SHINE Blog hop and I'm so glad I did!

    1. Thank you so much, Erin. Yes – I have faced that level of fatigue – its hard when you hit that wall. But by God’s grace, we’ll get through this!

  12. Dear, Dear, Rosilind, It’s okay. And I say that with sincerity, not simply because I’ve read your post. I can’t stop by and bring you a meal, but I pray right now that God sends you some angels and blesses your socks off and gives you an unexpected nap time. Bless you, dear friend. This part of motherhood can be very hard and lonely at times. I think it’s excellent that you shared this. Love, Gail

  13. I’m so sorry you were having such a rough time! I hope things have gotten better! Being a mom is the most exhausting but rewarding thing I’ve ever done! Thanks for linking up with the Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop!

    1. Oh Liz! Isn’t it a comfort to know we’re not alone? These comments helped me so much – because I realized that there are so many women out there keeping me company.

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