a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Sep, 2012

The post I have no energy to write

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Fishbowl patrons|parenting|Yaktivism

This post is sponsored by Swiss Natural, however opinions remain my own. This is not about selling a product, but a discussion about an important topic. Please read on!

I like to joke that when I gave birth to the girls my energy reserves left me at the same time. Honestly, I think that I have never fully recovered from the years of sleep deprivation. Or maybe I’m just old. Gah.

Interesting thing… if mom is tired, really tired, the family starts to fall apart. Perhaps I am generalizing (and dads, please don’t take offence!) but I think on the whole this is true. Let’s see… on my worst days I can’t pull it together enough to clean the house, do laundry, get my work done, buy groceries, make meals, take care of my kids, or even take care of myself.

There is mental energy (“I am SO TIRED of picking up after you guys!”), and physical energy (“I don’t think I can walk that far”) but the more I think about it the more I realize the two are closely intertwined, if not one and the same.

When you have energy it’s easier to deal with the things life hands to you, whether it’s another pair of dirty socks at the front door or a larger crisis. And that’s why, over the past couple years, I have been trying to figure out my Perfect Personal Energy Formula. Here is what I’ve figured out so far:

The most important thing for me is SLEEP. I need lots of sleep, otherwise I am a total mess.

The second most important (or maybe it should be tied for first) is, healthy eating. I am eating better than ever before and I can attribute this to three things: (a) My self-imposed Daily Lunches challenge (I’m making better choices because I know people are watching!) and (b) eating fewer processed foods and fewer carbs (c) MyFitnessPal – a great little app that tracks calories in/calories out. (I’m quietfish001 if you want to follow me there!)

Third: fresh air and exercise. On the days I take the dog for an extended walk in the morning, music blaring in my ears, are the days that I come home happy and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Fourth, and this applies only to the darker months of the year, I give myself a daily dose of light therapy and start taking Vitamin D.

I recommend that if you experience crushing fatigue (and by crushing I mean that it’s getting in the way of your life and preventing you from living it) that you speak to your doctor about it ASAP. There might be health issues that need to be addressed.

Swiss Natural sent me a bottle of Solutions® Energy and I’ve been trying to remember to take it every day. It contains green tea, vitamin B12 and guarana to help combat fatigue while metabolizing foods to help build energy supplies. You can read more about it here but I will say that for me it’s too soon to say if it’s making a difference above and beyond what I’m already doing. :)

I asked my Facebook Fishies to comment on their energy levels and how they recharge their batteries.

  • @noflashcards has a pretty good formula going: “Coffee, fresh air, exercise and then more coffee.”
  • @orgchaos_allibu found something that works for her, which is awesome: “I am definitely a better mom, spouse, and all round person when I exercise! It’s a total destressor (is that a word?) for me. It can be running, swimming, biking, or a bootcamp. I did a bootcamp on the beach this summer and that was an amazing way to unwind one evening a week. I am now biking to work, it’s a short bike ride for me, and a great way to transition from work to the kids and home life (or vice versa in the morning).”
  • Brenda recharges with “time alone for a hot bath and early bed time. Easier said than done!”
  • Judy has extra parenting duties that use up her reserves: “I get parental fatigue but it is from all the therapies, medical appts, keeping track, and then added onto the regular 4 year old challenges. It is much more emotional and mental than physical. We haven’t found the best way it recharge yet but work knit regularly…. At home movie nights, walking…. Lots of walking.”
  • Louise from Late Night Plays writes: “I don’t need a lot of sleep, so my parental fatigue is usually of the mental sort…..and while there are a lot of things I can sneak in here and there (writing/a book/coffee with a friend) it doesn’t always help with refueling my mental state as a parent. I’ve learned to overhaul the way I’m going about my routine…like switching from regular lunch box filling to bento lunches or my newest plan to find great kid-friendly quotes to throw up on our homework board. In other words, I find a new experiment that challenges me and benefits the family/kids. It really helps to refresh my perspective.”
  • I agree that sometimes finding a new activity helps recharge the ol’ batteries. @OttawaNic goes to a weekly Zumba class and writes that “it’s like going on vacation for an hour a week.”
  • @amwaters who blogs at www.ottawafood.blogspot.com started going on an annual retreat. She writes: “It was a chance to get away from the busy home life and connect one on one with other mom’s. The weekend was all about us. We focused on great food and great wine. There were long walks and late night chats. Fun games. Sometimes we painted toes and waxed brows. There was even a weekend we brought in someone to do massages. That was all fringe. It was just about being together for each other. It has been a wonderful tradition and so rejuvenating at a time when we were so busy with children at home.”
  • Annie from PhD in Parenting writes: “From a fatigue perspective, I find I’m more tired now that my kids are getting older. When they were infants and toddlers, they woke up at night, but the total number of hours that they slept was higher, so I had more time to (a) sleep and (b) get things done. Now I find trying to cram things I need to do and things I want to do into the small number of hours when they are sleeping and I’m not sleeping is really hard. I could take more time away from family time, but I don’t want to do that either.”

It’s not easy to to balance your needs and your family’s needs, is it?

I’d love to hear more about how YOU do it. Do you have an energy-boosting routine that works for you? What do you struggle with? I’d love to hear about it.

Thank you Swiss Natural, for sponsoring the writing of this post and encouraging this discussion. You can follow them on FB and on Twitter!

6 Responses to "The post I have no energy to write"

1 | Louise

September 14th, 2012 at 8:22 pm


Thanks for including me, Andrea! Hear, hear on the Vitamin D…..we simply don’t get enough up here in the north!

2 | Sherrie Guthrie

September 15th, 2012 at 4:41 pm


Great post, I feel the same way…no energy is my issue as well!
Thanks for sharing:)

3 | Lorrie Douthwright

September 16th, 2012 at 11:09 am


My most important way to re-energize is to spend time with fun people. I don’t need them to be sunshine personified but cynicism, and negativity is a drain. When I’m with playful, creative people I can almost feel my batteries filling up!

Next I need to sweat. I love my family and my world more when I’ve had some exercise.

The next one is hard for me. I need a clean home. Clutter zaps me, and my home is a wild house right now. I’ve found that I must have two days off in a row. Something I haven’t done in a while. My husband and I both naturally seem to need that first day to be sloth-like, and the next one we can be productive. I’ve tried to reverse it, but it just never works.

4 | Dave

September 16th, 2012 at 1:05 pm


“if mom is tired, really tired, the family starts to fall apart”

Cannot agree more. I also very much like your personal energy formula. I’ve always thought of it as a recipe.

We always thought after our babies stopped being babies, we’d fall back into our normal sleep rhythm. Not so for my wife, who just cannot seem to turn her brain off when the lights go down.

5 | Kathleen

September 16th, 2012 at 7:22 pm


If you’ve got really low energy you might also be anemic and need to up the iron through diet or supplements. Our young rock star triathlete, Paula Findlay, who finished last in her event at the Olympics has just been diagnosed with anemia – which goes to show it can be undiagnosed in lots of people.

6 | Katy Watts

September 19th, 2012 at 1:28 pm


I don’t have kids or a husband but I have the boyfriend and a pretty rough self imposed routine.

I try to keep with a diet full of lean protein, veggies and fruits and try not to eat refined carbs. Since I have hypothyroidism and iron deficiencies I try to eat a lot of dark green veg like chard, kale, spinach and broccoli. I find it really boosts my energy.

I also like having a bit of time to myself in the day, where I can relax and unwind. Lucky for me I find I can relax at the gym while listening to music.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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