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Tired Mom Survival Guide

Tired Mom Survival Guide

Morning is here faster than a Chinese bullet train. You don’t remember how long you slept or if you even slept at all. And baby is WIDE AWAKE. Welcome to your Tired Mom Survival Guide.

This post is a follow-up to How to be a Good Morning Mom, specifically for when that entire practice has failed! Because let’s be honest, we are barely functional without sleep, and while you’re always a good mom, being a good morning mom has an entirely different meaning.

As someone whose baby may be the worst sleeper on the planet, I’m well versed in tactics required to survive a sleepless night turned into a sleepless day. My toddler’s only competition for worst sleeper is that of a giraffe or an elephant, both clocking between 2-4 hours of sleep a day.

Giraffe and Elephant Dancing with Jungle Animals
The enthusiastic dance of creatures like your baby who can function on no sleep!

So if you’ve stumbled upon this page in a desperate googling tirade to find out how to survive the day as a tired mom, you’ve come to the right place. So let’s go!

Here are nine steps for surviving as a tired mom:

1. Get a Moment of Clarity

Get Moment of Clarity | Tired Mom Survival Guide

Play hide-and-seek and lock yourself in the bathroom or a closet for a minute to think. Thinking may seem unobtainable, but all you need is a single moment of mental clarity to get a semblance of a plan together. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it is better if it’s not. Part of surviving today is allowing a degree of flexibility.

Also, if you stay hiding for a short while after the kids have given up looking for you, that’s great! And if you have the long-sought talent of sleeping while standing like a horse, send an informational step-by-step process to me at hello@circlingthesandbox.com. I’d love to hear from you!

2. Allow Flexibility

Allow Flexibility

Call yourself Gumby today because that’s the degree of flexibility you’ll need to get through this, ladies.

Today will highlight areas you may be holding yourself to unreasonable expectations and not being kind to yourself. While being a tired mom will test you physically, mentally, and emotionally, allowing flexibility will help get you through the day. It will also allow you to practice self-care in the form of self-empathy.

3. Establish Benchmarks/Finish Line to Buffer Mom Fatigue

Establish Benchmarks

As someone who has survived some VERY boring work days, I am a master of breaking down days into tasks to pass the time. Establishing small benchmarks to push time along also works well as a tired mom, which I am now most days.

What sounds worse, doing twelve hours of something difficult or doing something difficult for one hour twelve times? Establishing benchmarks helps push you through today or even multiple days.

4. Utilize Supports

Utilize Supports | Tired Mom Survival Guide

There isn’t a special badge upon completion of your baby’s childhood that designates moms who never receive help. There also isn’t a badge ceremony in general, which is a complaint I’ve attempted to lodge formally, but it seems there isn’t a regulatory body for it.

Society expects a lot from moms, particularly in America. If you’re working, you’re not attentive or selfless enough. If you aren’t working, you’re lazy and don’t care about your family’s financial well-being. While both extremes are ridiculous, it’s subconsciously engrained into people’s minds and can contribute to feelings of worthlessness or shame. If you’re struggling with such feelings, check out my post: Feeling like a Bad Mom? Read This. There is also support available at Postpartum International. Text or call 1-800-944-4773.

I’m giving you the out right now that you can and should accept help if available, especially when you’re feeling like a tired mom. If family or friends can watch your child so you can take a power nap, go for it.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine | Tired Mom Survival Guide

Only three things wake me up when I can’t nap: coffee, a shower, or being chased by an army of bears wearing active beehives as shoes.

Since my supply of bee-hive shoed bears is low, and I can’t stay in the shower all day while watching a toddler, coffee is usually the answer.

For breastfeeding mamas, it’s tempting to hold ourselves to a limit on caffeine consumption, but I’m also here to let you know that you’re just trying to survive as a tired mom. So do what you feel is best for you and your baby.

6. More Caffeine…After All You are One Tired Mother

More Caffeine | Tired Mom Survival Guide

I said what I said. And we do what we can with what we have. I am an optimist (sometimes to a fault), but I also embrace realism when required. I’ve known very few people who don’t consume caffeine, but none of them were moms of young children.

Caffeine visits me in times of need offering steamy support, especially now that I’m a tired mother. Coffee is consistent and available when people may not be. So if today is a day you need a little extra caffeine, don’t be too harsh on yourself.

7. Distractions, Distractions

Distractions | Tired Mom Survival Guide

Much like a magician hopped on something a bit stronger than the power of magic, today will require a show and flourish.

There’s a lot in the wellness community around mindfulness and being present. But today is not the day for it! Shocking, I know, but our brain also protects us by not being present sometimes. Your mind is managing the competing priorities of combating sleep and caring for another human being who constantly attempts to endanger themselves.

It’s days I’m a tired mom that my daughter seems to get into more mischief than usual, attempting to pull the cover off our kitchen table with all its contents on top of herself repeatedly.

So use whatever is at your disposal to survive as a tired mom, whether taking your kid to the library, park, or other places where similarly aged children roam as majestically as a horde of buffalo on the western plains. However, I discourage you from singing Home on the Range in your exhausted stupor as you’ll likely be louder than you think and may draw attention from nearby parents for the wrong reasons. Unless you’re past the point of caring, then, by all means, take it aawaaaay!

8. Perspective

Perspective | Tired Mom Survival Guide

Perspective is seeing a storm on the horizon but immediately realizing the earth needs a bit of rain. And in that realization, there is a sigh of relief as we surrender and see things aren’t always as bad as they seem.

Plus, y’all knew this would come up if you’ve frequented the blog for a while. A shift in perspective transforms our experience from one of suffering to one of a manageable challenge. So keep those challenges in perspective on days when mom fatigue is hitting hard.

9. Give Yourself Grace as a Tired Mother

Give Yourself Grace | Tired Mom Survival Guide

A central theme of parenthood is accepting that we are not perfect and must show ourselves the same kindness we offer our kids. If you’d like to learn what giving yourself grace means and how to give it to yourself, read my post, 5 Steps to Giving Yourself Grace.

While we may not be perfect humans, we can be the ideal fit for parenting our little ones. The Perfect Role Model for Your Baby is You is another post to check out on Circling the Sandbox if you’re struggling to see all the ways you’re already the parent your child needs.

And that’s your Tired Mom Survival Guide!

Each day brings its set of opportunities and challenges. And sometimes, all we can do is weather the storm. So what are ways you survive mom fatigue?

I’d love to hear any tactics you’ve used, so drop a comment below!


  1. February 28, 2023 / 6:20 pm

    Love this advice! There’s certainly some helpful tips in here. Hopefully the tired moms searching for advice will also get a laugh out of the comedic bits – I know I did!

  2. March 1, 2023 / 8:32 pm

    I wish I had this article 21 years ago when my oldest daughter rarely slept or napped and I was going insane. Very helpful and honest. Motherhood is rewarding but also so hard.

    • March 3, 2023 / 10:23 pm

      Yes, it definitely is. I thought the newborn period would be tiring but little did I know that my toddler’s sleep would be worse. Thank you for the kind words!

  3. Lauren
    March 2, 2023 / 12:51 am

    Learning to be gentle with myself and not expect perfection was a real challenge when I became a mom, but it has helped immensely. Grace, grace, and more grace.

    • March 3, 2023 / 10:24 pm

      So true! Giving yourself grace is so so important. I’m a bit of an overachiever so that’s been a big lesson for me, but I’m glad to say I’ve been going a lot easier on myself. Thanks for commenting!

  4. March 17, 2023 / 7:06 am

    Love this advice! There’s certainly some helpful tips in here. Hopefully the tired moms searching for advice will also get a laugh out of the comedic bits – I know I did!

  5. May 6, 2023 / 6:33 am

    Love this advice! There’s certainly some helpful tips in here. Hopefully the tired moms searching for advice will also get a laugh out of the comedic bits .

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