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Tiredness - how much is normal for parents of under 5's, and how do you know if tiredness levels are beyond normal?

(44 Posts)
scoobysnax Mon 10-May-04 12:14:01

How much tiredness is normal and expected for parents of young children, would you say, and how do you know if you are more tired than is normal and should get medical advice?
Hard to define, I know, but I was wondering if others could help me build up a view of what is normal for parents over 30?

furniture Mon 10-May-04 12:25:53

Hard to define for me too. It depends I guess on how much sleep you're getting and how much rest in the day too. I've found I'm more tired because in the afternoon when dd's napping I can start to read a book and be asleep in seconds which I never used to do. I also don't feel properly rested in the mornings, it's hard to get myself up. I don't think I've got a problem with tiredness though I think it's all part and parcel of looking after a spirited 19 month old.

Incidentally I used to sleep a shorter night than now (rarely more than 7 hours) but I feel more tired now than I used to. I just think I don't sleep as soundly.

Jennisaurus Mon 10-May-04 15:53:27

I am under 30, but I am pretty tired these days (my dd is 6mths and I work full time).

For me normal is falling asleep the moment I get into bed, and not wanting to get up but being able to.
I know when I am too tired, when I can't drag myself out of bed at all, and I am falling asleep mid afternoon. I also look quite pale when I am very tired.

Soulfly Mon 10-May-04 16:03:37

I find although this is probably nothing to do with this. that the more sleep i have, eg, like i got up really late, the more tired i feel, the more i do the better i feel, as if i don't do much i feel really tired. if that makes sense, lol.

suzywong Mon 10-May-04 16:14:00

I haven't slept for more than 4 hours in a row for over three years.
My first boy didn't sleep throught the night until he was 21 months by which time I was PG with number 2 and gettingup to pee twice a night.
DS2 is up four times from 9-7pm, on a good night, it was 8 times last night as he had a snuffley cold.
When my brain feels loose and I feel dizzy and can't speak properly I generally take it easy and don't drive that day or arrange any activities with any other kids, I can just about handle myself and my own kids on those days.
Also, if anyone ever says 'you look tired, why don't you get your head down for half an hour?' I usually try and murder them.

Hopefully DS2 will get the hint and start sleeping with only 2 wakings per night, I am trying my best and have just resigned myself to the fact that I am permanently knackered.

scoobysnax Mon 10-May-04 16:29:57

Until about a year ago, I often had days when I was too tired to make conversation with my friends - is this normal tiredness for mums would you say?

jimmychoos Mon 10-May-04 16:31:26

For me, tiredness is never waking up voluntarily (ie always woken by a child or an alarm). It's needing to go to bed at 9.30 to be able to face the next day, regardless of the fact you've done nothing since the kids went to bed but tidy up and sort washing and have hardly spoken to your partner. It's being unable to throw together anything except a bowl of cereal for supper.

Having said that, I am lucky compared to Suzywong - my kids do sleep. It's the combination of two littlies and work that I find so hard. Suzy - that sounds dreadful. Huge sympathy.

suzywong Mon 10-May-04 16:32:54

Very normal Scoobysnax

Thanks JC, but hey ho musn't grumble.
Kids=angels by day
Omen Children= by night

sponge Mon 10-May-04 16:41:56

I think it depends how old they are Scooby.
If under two then undoubtedly you will still be being woken up in the night etc. If older than this and still keeping you up half the night then perhaps some sleep training is needed - hell for a few days but leads to much needed relief in the long term. DD used to get up and come into our bed every night up until she was nearly 3 but we went through a few days of taking her back, shutting her in her room, screaming etc and she now doesn't do it. She's now 4 and sleeps through from at least 9-7 (which is when we get up for work anyway) and at the weekends although she will wake up before 8 she's happy for us to turn on the TV for her and go back to bed for an hour so we do get to catch up a bit.
Having said that am now pg again and so permanently exhausted and looking forward to being so for the next couple of years

marthamoo Mon 10-May-04 17:16:31

I don't know what constitutes *normal* tiredness: I tend to veer between vaguely tired (permanently) to absolutely shattered (thankfully rarely, these days). Can identify totally with suzy as ds1 didn't sleep longer than 2 hours before 8 months, and didn't sleep through the night til he was 3. I was on many occasions, a walking zombie, used to walk out in front of cars, drop things, and forget where I lived a lot!

If you are absolutely exhausted all the time, and the amount of sleep you have doesn't seem to make a difference, then I would go to your GP for a thyroid test and to have your iron levels tested. There are also lots of herbal remedies about for tiredness, I took one for a while that had ginseng (I think!) in it - have a look in Boots.

Too tired to make conversation with friends sounds more like depression to me (and permanent tiredness can be an indicator of depression) - but you say that has passed?

I'm pretty much used to tiredness now (ds1 is 7, ds2 is 2, and I am almost 35) - it's a way of life, but it's manageable now.

scoobysnax Mon 10-May-04 17:38:48

Marthamoo thanks for the advice - I have definitely been better for a year or so in that I no longer feel too tired to speak to friends. Is that necessarily a symptom of depression, or is it simply being tired?

I have been relatively lucky with unbroken sleep - certainly never woken more than once in the night, so I am sure others fare a lot worse. I do work 3 days a week and for me I find this more tiring than being at home.

You may be right in linking tiredness and depression, but is it a chicken & egg scenario do you think?

Honeypie Mon 10-May-04 19:47:49

I have four children - 16,5,4,2 - so when I was feeling so tired that I would fall asleep at the table or in conversation with my eldest I just assumed that that was my lot! It then transpired through a routine blood test for something else that I have a very underactive thyroid and am now on thyroxine. Its still being regulated but I feel much better that 6 months ago. It's hard to know what's 'normal' tiredness but I would now recommend to anyone unusually tired to talk to their GP - I wish that I had.

suzywong Mon 10-May-04 20:19:33

Actually, now you all come to mention it, I have a history of thyroid disease in my family and asked my GP to do a blood test because of this, results in later this week.
If there is a problem and I go on medication does that mean I won't be so tired?
Do hope so!

CountessDracula Mon 10-May-04 20:25:59

I thought I was just tired because I had a one year old and a busy very full time job etc. It turned out I had Glandular Fever!

Do get it checked

Ghosty Tue 11-May-04 08:30:22

I have a low threshold of tiredness ... it doesn't take much for me to be tired. B4 children I used to need at the very least 8 hours of sleep in one stretch in order to function at work ... anything less and I was hopeless. When DS came along my tiredness contributed to my PND I am sure. I think it was Penelope Leach that said it felt like your brain was wearing a jumper - that really rang true with me.
I am lucky in that my 3 month old is a fantastic sleeper so I am not so tired this time round BUT I do do really silly things at the moment because I am pretty knackered. The other day a mum approached me at Kindy and told me that I had left the passenger door of my car wide open with my bag and phone on the seat there for anyone to take ... and then a few days later I took DD out of the car in her car seat and I hadn't clicked the handle properly and it swivelled round so she was sky diving hanging upside down ... I was so freaked out I sat down and cried. The same day I came home and found the back door wide open ... I had been out for 3 hours!
Oh... and another sign of being tired for me is that I will fall asleep anywhere ... yesterday I dozed off while feeding DD and DS was watching cartoons ... I came to when I realised that my nipple was in DD's eye and she was trying to latch on to my tummy

suzywong Tue 11-May-04 08:58:03

We wer up from 4.15 to 6.45 am!!!
Oh and 11.30 and 1.55!
i have to take him to the clinic for his 8 month check today and if I get there with out collapsing I fear they may section me as I feel and look mad as a box of frogs!!
Wooo-hoooohhh!! Gibber gibber gibber blibble

misdee Tue 11-May-04 09:22:30

i'm always tired. have hardly had a full nights sleep in over 4years. sleep training wouldnt work on dd1 even tho she is 4, as the reason she gets up is ebcause of eczema and asthma. i just cant ignore a scratching child, who is ripping her skin off and bleeding. if dd1 has a good night, then there is always dd2 lovely habit of not sleeping. i think she sleeps on average atm 6hours a night. she goes down early, but will wake up at stupid times and play. she just doesnt need sleep like the rest of us. she rarely has an afternoon nap these days either.
so i am always slightly tired, but it rarely affects me, tho yesterday i went back to bed as i felt wound up as i hadnt been sleeping at all the last week as have a horrible cough which is waking me up every time i lie down.

clary Tue 11-May-04 12:47:10

scoobysnax agree with others that it's always worth checking you are healthy...may be thyroid, may also be iron. I was very tired when pg with no 3 because my blood count was down to 10 I think (single figures is very bad). As for how tired is normal...well my 3 are fab sleepers (tho we had to get DS2 well trained) so I get 7pm-6am; now I am back at work doing full-time hours including some evenings I do find my time is filled with chores and then I can get tired. Always sleep really well tho thank goodness. Suzywong, what a terrible situation, my sympathies. Unlike Sponge I must say would happily train a child of 1yr or even less to sleep. My dd (no 2) was always a good sleeper, but we did have probs with DS2, all sorted now tho and what a good thing. Depends on how you want to deal with things but it's not necessarily part and parcel of parenthood to be woken through the night IME.

Galaxy Tue 11-May-04 13:00:43

message withdrawn

goosey Tue 11-May-04 13:10:31

I'm 37 and also permanently tired. I love to share a bottle of wine or go out for a pint with dh a couple of times a week, but always feel even more drained the next day. I also think that when you get older the weight of your sagging eyebrows makes it more tiring to keep your eyes open. That sounds as if I'm being flippant, but I'm honestly not. All you older mums try it now ... lift your brows as if you are giving yourselves a surgical lift, and feel the relief?

clary Tue 11-May-04 13:35:41

sorry Misdee my message sounds really know-all and stroppy (not intended) and I can see why you are getting little sleep and sympathise. Training clearly no use for you or DD. Have you tried a conmpany that specialises in all-in-one nightwear with mits specially for children with eczema? Designed by a mum in yr position. Can't remember the name (sorry, uselss) but will try to find the brochure if yre interested.

misdee Tue 11-May-04 13:46:14

we do have those sleepsuits (4 of them). dd hates them. and even with the ties on the smallest hole, she can move her hands (dont ask me how she does this!!) out of the mittens and escape the top half of the pj's to have a scratch. i have given up hope wuith regards to sleep and just power nap during the day if need be. i actually have to replace the sleepsuits soon as she is outgrowing them fast, so may look at the t-shirt and legging pj option this time.

marthamoo Tue 11-May-04 14:39:51

scoobysnax, I think it probably is a chicken and egg scenario. I think of it like a circle - the unbroken line which is part depression, part exhaustion, and you don't know where one ends and the other begins. I know I have been depressed when I have not been suffering from sleep deprivation - but being depressed makes me exhausted, if that makes sense?!

Not being able to muster up enthusiasm to talk to friends could just be down to tiredness, yes. Or it could be a sign of depression - but if yu are past that now I would say that's a good sign, either way.

Suzy, misdee, all those suffering the torture of sleep deprivation - huge sympathy and massive (((hugs))). It's hell on earth

Bugsy2 Tue 11-May-04 15:52:44

Yup, pretty normal Scooby. For me over exhaustion is when I can't concentrate, frighten myself when I drive the car, find it difficult to string a sentence together am incredibly short tempered and want to cry all the time.
I am always tired, my children are 4.5 and 2 and I probably get one unbroken night's sleep in 7 but I can get by with 6 hours a night on a fairly regular basis.
I know that tiredness and depression often share symptoms but having been both, I would say there is a sense of enduring hopelessness with depression that should not be regularly appearing with tiredness.
Ah, the joys of motherhood!

butwhatdoiknow Tue 11-May-04 20:31:59

How is medical advice going to help you if you are tired.

Surely instead of seeing a doctor you could use that hour to have a kip instead.

What is a doctor going to do, except give sleeping tablets.

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