Rick Hanson, PhD and Jan Hanson, MSThe question
I'm a mom with three young kids and I'm tired all the time. I don't want to do anything anymore -- except sleep. Is this just the way it's going to be until the kids are into school?
Rick and Jan Hanson answer
From the sound of it, there's a good chance that you -- like millions of other mothers -- have become physically depleted by the relentless stresses (including sleep deprivation!) and physiological demands of bearing and rearing young children. You probably have the Depleted Mother Syndrome (DMS) that affects at least one in 10 mothers.
The good news is you can do plenty about it. Honestly, you'll find the most complete summary of practical ways to feel less run-down in our book, Mother Nurture, published by Penguin. And in this limited space, here are some suggestions you can start using immediately:
Talk with your doctor to make sure there isn't some nagging health problem that is wearing you down, like anemia or low thyroid. Have your doctor, or other licensed health professional, run an amino acid panel (and perhaps other nutritional testing) to make sure that your body has normal levels. If the testing shows that you are low, start taking the appropriate supplements.
Eat protein at every meal, especially breakfast.
Take a good multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement (four to six pills a day), plus supplements of calcium-magnesium and essentially fatty acids.
Do everything possible to get more sleep, whether it's letting the housework go and napping during the day or insisting that your partner do more child-care at night or get up early with the kids so you can get an extra hour of sleep in the morning.
Take control of your schedule so carve out at least half an hour a day of time just for yourself. Whether it's parking your kids in front of the video babysitter, increasing childcare or making a deal with your partner, do whatever you need to do to find that time each day to recharge your batteries.
Reach out to other moms for companionship and emotional support.
Make sure that your partner is pulling his weight and carrying a fair share of the load. When you're on-task during the morning, evening or weekend, he should be, too. If need be, track the way each of you spends your time for a week and show it to him so he can see that things are unfair.
Over and over again, if a mom just starts doing small things every day to nurture herself, she starts feeling at least a little better within a few days, and a lot better in a few weeks!