SPECIAL REPORT: Sick or Tired? Experts give tips for exhausted moms

Moms are busy, tired and there's a lot of pressure to do it all. // WSBT 22 Photo

Moms are busy, tired and there's a lot of pressure to do it all.

Many moms blame feeling tired on a too busy lifestyle, but it could actually be a sign you may be dealing with much more.

Like many moms, Michelle Scott spends her days taking care of her family. She stays busy driving her four kids back-and-forth between practices and volunteer events.

"I'm not sure how we get it all done, but somehow it happens," Scott said.

It took WSBT 22 weeks just to get on her calendar for an interview.

"There are days when I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I need a break!’" she said.

That's exactly what experts recommend for all moms. They say even 15 minutes of "me" time a day can make a difference.

Roxanne Ultz is executive director at the Family and Children's Center and a former therapist.

"I think it's difficult for moms to say no -- whether it's to the kids or the activities. You know, school calls and needs snacks tomorrow. So I think setting those limits is very difficult sometimes for moms and then you stretch yourself too thin," Ultz said.

That can impact your health.

"I see a lot of babies. I see a lot of families and I have a lot of moms who come in and they just don't know what to do," said Dr. Abigail Battjes at River Park Family Medicine.

She says look for these warning signs: exhaustion, not feeling happy, crying outbursts, and getting upset by little things. It can all lead to bigger issues, like depression.

"It does affect us physically because we don't want to exercise. We start gaining weight. We eat unhealthy and once we start falling in that downward spiral, your body starts playing games with you," said Battjes.

Not getting enough sleep can impact you too, maybe more than you think.

“Even if you're dieting right and exercising, but you're not sleeping well, you're going to be continuing to gain weight,” said Haley Coddens at St. Jopseh’s Sleep Disorder Center. “Your mood is going to be disrupted. It really affects your mental health and your ability to be super mom, if you're trying to be that."

Coddens said there are two things you can do right now to get the most out of your sleep. First, turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The screen time tends to stimulate you. Second, be in bed for at least eight hours. Even if you're not asleep for that entire time, she says that sets your body up to get used to that routine.

“Truly if you don't take care of yourself, you're not really that effective in taking care of little ones or anyone else for that matter. That ‘put your oxygen mask on first’ mantra in a plane really fits for parenting as well," said Ultz.

If you do feel tired for weeks, despite changes to your lifestyle like what you eat, your sleep habits and taking that “me” time, then it's time to call the doctor. It could be a number of issues. If you find yourself nodding off at inappropriate times, like when you're waiting at a traffic light, or you suddenly start snoring when you haven't before, those could be signs of an actual sleep disorder.

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