At least once a week, I’m asked how I have the energy to be a full-time at-home mom to a toddler, 3 big dogs + 1 human baby on the way while running businesses + doing a home remodel + still having sex in my marriage.
The short answer: I prioritize it.
The long answer: this post!
I’m sharing 6 starting steps for getting your energy in-check. Read on and let me know what you do in the comments below!
Let’s start here: Feeling tired is our bodies’ ways of communicating with us. Paying attention to those messages is critical to your energy maintenance.
When you’re at the beginning of pregnancy, you’re building the placenta and all of baby’s major organ systems. That’s no small task even though baby is small in size. All of your body systems are gifting their extra available energy to making + protecting baby. It makes perfect sense that you feel tired in the first trimester.
In both of my pregnancies, energy returned for the second + third trimesters along with no actual symptoms. You know the ones so many moms join together + share war stories on? I didn’t have any. I literally just looked pregnant + felt great + that was it.
I attribute that to a big commitment to not drinking caffeine (and actually quitting it during the preconception phase) + these energy-boosting steps I’m about to share with you now.
There were times when I stopped implementing these steps and fell back on cheap ways to get through the days — and man were those days way harder than they had to be had I just done the work up front.
Take all six steps to heart and move from one to the next at a pace that’s manageable to you.
Step 1 — Do a Deep Evaluation of Your Calendar
Ask yourself “how am I actually spending my days?”
During the peak of my caffeine dependency, I was waking up about 5-minutes before our family departure to bring Kev to the train station for his work commute. I’d roll out of bed, make an outfit out of my PJs, get us shuffled into the car for drop-off only to justify needing the pick-me-up and an accompanying donut or rubbery bagel “because I just didn’t have time, I needed to eat something”.
The reality was obviously that I had gotten lazy about waking up with enough lead time because getting up without caffeine in my face was SO HARD. My days felt filled with projects + chores that were boring + when I wasn’t breastfeeding, I wasn’t taking advantage of the hands-off time. That makes a big difference!
Do a big evaluation of how your day starts, progresses and finishes — track every 30 minute increments and write it down. I realized how many opportunities I had for rest + self-care + simple nutrition when I shut off technology + took time to create routines. There’s always time for YOU, but it’s your job to prioritize that time + keep appointments with yourself.
After your evaluation, be your own schedule consultant and re-create a schedule that makes much better use of your time. Then confirm with a partner or close friend that you’ve set something attainable and sustainable in the long-run.
Step 2 — Set Strict Reminders for a Vitamin + Supplement Routine
Here’s what I take for daily vitamins + supplements (you can read more details here):
⁃ Daily multivitamin (prenatal when I’m nursing and/or pregnant)
⁃ Calcium + K2 + magnesium supplement
⁃ Omega-3 fish oils
⁃ Raw alfalfa tablets
I have a timer set to go off at 6 PM (right in the middle of dinner) every evening so that I never lapse. It’s a recurring event on my iCalendar. When you take your daily vitamins + supplements continuously, you’re not leaving gaps for nutrient depletion that causes energy drops. Keep your baseline just that — a baseline.
The great thing about the starting daily vitamins and supplements list is that they are pregnancy and breastfeeding safe and they are usually the starting points for what a functional medicine doctor would recommend to you for helping energy.
Note: If you’re still feeling depleted after implementing all six steps, then a functional medicine doctor is your next stop!
Step 3 — Check Your Emotions
Are you only getting out of bed in the morning because you’re excited about getting your coffee? I’ve had those times — no judgment. But it is a sign that something emotional is off-balance in your life. What else could be exciting enough for you to think about first that makes you get up and seize the day?
After our big move back to Boston, a lot of family trauma happened. Ignoring the deep emotional work I needed to do to get through it wasn’t helping me bound out of bed + feel energetic. I knew my long term goal was for my children to know me as a woman who figured problems out — however hard or easy — and did so with health as a priority. I didn’t want to be the gorilla mom in a bathrobe shuffling down to the coffee pot dragging her knuckles just trying to get an eyelid open. It felt like a tall order at one point, but doing one small thing everyday eventually led to the result I wanted and that was way easier than it looked. It will be for you, too. Trust me!
I enlisted the help of a therapist who called me out on where I was being too proud to ask for help elsewhere. She helped me have the deep conversations I needed to have in order to deal with that trauma + find the positive in something so negative. Find someone (or pay someone) unbiased to talk to — it’s one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
Step 4 — Sleep When the Baby Sleeps — Sometimes
Modern mothers often don’t have the financial luxury of napping every time their baby naps, but most mothers can prioritize pockets of rest during at least one nap time.
Older children who are phasing out of naps can learn to have quiet reading time. Younger children can all sync up a nap routine together. You can join!
A way that I carve out a shared naptime with my daughter is to involve her in the housekeeping. Just this morning she played with the spray bottle squirting water into the refrigerator while I wiped it down before putting groceries away. I truly value the Montessori style of teaching life skills and often implement their rules into our playtime. Instead of spending baby’s naptime cleaning up the family room, we have a rule in our house that we put the current toy away before taking out a new toy to play with. It’s one less chore for me and I feel better about taking the time for a rest in the middle of the day.
Sleep can also be gained at night. It does mean you miss your alone time or adult time with your partner, but it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing experience. When our daughter was 1 and still bedsharing/nursing to sleep, I would go to bed with her on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and on the other nights I’d get up to spend the evenings with my husband. The times I went to bed with her were his times for personal reading, watching sports, working on his businesses and catching up with friends — things he’d want to be carving out the time for anyways.
Step 5 — Quit Caffeine
In short, caffeine alters your gut (where immunity is stored) + adrenals (how your body protects itself from stress) and your baby’s.
Quitting caffeine proved to me that I can be a productive, functioning mom completely on my own.
If symptoms continue: get evaluated (or evaluate yourself) for Adrenal Fatigue. So many moms have this and go undiagnosed. A great reference is this book — The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach. 👌🏼
Step 6 — Consume an Organic-as-Possible Plant-Based Diet
I’m not vegan, but I’m vegan-ish. And my life has changed overwhelmingly for the better since making the slow transition. One of the major benefits is the added energy I feel in not digesting meat. I enjoy veggie burgers at cookouts and don’t get the “meat sweats” after. I don’t feel heavy after eating a steak because — lets be honest, I really only cared about the mashed potatoes.
Watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives” for a thoughtful review of plant-based eating. It’s not one of those alarmist ones that will scare you, but it will show you the importance + overwhelming benefits of consuming mostly plants throughout your life. 🌱