How to Handle Tired Mom Syndrome

If you’ve never heard of TMS, you’ve probably had it—Tired Mom Syndrome. I coined the phrase after laughing with my children about my late evening fatigue that sets in after long days of running around and doing the things mothers do. The symptoms? A higher level of irritability. The desire to sequester one’s self from the noise of loud children. And the slower movement associated with a tired body and mind!

I started joking about TMS because I wanted to help my children understand that even moms have limits. I explained to them that I love them very much, but that by the end of the day I don’t have quite as much patience. I let them know that I can’t handle a lot of craziness at this point in my day, and I ask them to please tone it down just a bit. I tried to help them relate by pointing out that neither one of them likes to be awakened in a loud, forceful way. I told them that’s how I feel in the evening; I need a gentle approach too.

Here’s how to handle tired mom syndrome.

1. Pause before you lose it.

My children were in rare form on the way home from school the other day. They were loud, antsy, and were pretty much just letting off steam from a long day of studies. We were about a block from home when I felt myself near the point of losing it. I did not want to say something I would regret later. So I asked them to get out of the car and walk home. Well actually, I firmly told them to please get out of the car… now.

That little bit of alone time helped me pull it back together, and we laughed about the situation. A better outcome than if I had lost it in the car. (And don’t worry, they were on the sidewalk and I was keeping an eye on them in the rearview mirror.)

2. Act like a baby.

While I was on a walk with a good friend the other morning, we started talking about naps. We both observed that TMS is much more likely to strike when we’re tired. Enter the nap. It can be as short as 10 minutes, but if you can get in a good half hour every now and then, do it. You’ll think better. You’ll have more patience. You’ll be nicer to your children. My friend told me that she’s stolen a quick nap in the school pickup line!

If you can’t slip a nap into your day, try to get enough sleep at night. I know, it’s tough. There is always one more thing to do at night that keeps us from hitting the hay. But try not to go too many nights without getting good rest.

3. Cut back.

I woke up this morning at 3:30 and could not go back to sleep. My mind was spinning with the appointments I needed to schedule, the bills I needed to pay, and the clothes—lots of clothes—I needed to fold. To beat TMS, you have to cutback on worry. Worry compounds TMS. But cutting back on worrying is easier said than done.

Still, here’s what helps: Pray. Ask God to help you realize that there is only so much you can do. {Tweet This} A lot of things are out of your control. Those are the things that worry is wasted on. Cut out some of your responsibilities, if you can. I went through my duties and jettisoned the ones that were taking up too much of my energy and gave little reward.

So the next time you get TMS, try the steps above for relief, and let me know if they help!

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In The Comments

How do you handle Tired Mom Syndrome?


  • Uxia

    Some times when I feel I am about to loose it because my daughter doesn’t listen, I ask her to come close to me and I hug her. I hug her tight. I feel that the close contact with her gives a chance to control my impulse to yell. I can be as long as 30 seconds, but it is enough to calm me down and reset my mind frame.

    • Uxia, what a great idea… and what a sweet idea! Nancy

    • Shannon

      I do the same thing especially when we are in a “battle”. I just open up my arms and they usually walk right in. Makes us both feel better. It’s like a reset button ☺️

    • Joanne

      I do this too. I ask my children if any one of them can give me a hug please, because i feel like it is all getting too much. They are great, and I usually get a hug from all of them. This physical and loving contact is just wonderful and it has now got to the stage where my kids realize its getting towards the end of the day and they ask, “Mum, do you need a hug?

  • melissa

    My husband has always said that a good general knows when to retreat. He is right. I have 7 children and when I am starting to lose it, I go into my clean room and sit for awhile, or go outside even for a few minutes and breathe fresh air. I am notorious for the 20 minute nap too. That is all it takes for me to continue on!

    • Melissa, you and your husband sound like a great team! And, I love it that you are setting such a good example for your children of taking care of yourself. I am going to try to do better on that. You’ve inspired me! Nancy

  • Stephanie

    Wow, so amazing how true this is for me right now. My kids are 4, 7, 8, and 10 (with Asperger’s). My husband is a Scout leader so he is committed to at least one night a week out. We both are on committees at church so often he is gone a 2nd night a week, or we are both out together. I have a small baking business from home, which takes away my Thursday and Friday morning household chores. So yes, evenings are hard. Regarding #2: I always try to sneak a nap in, but then guilt slips in, like I should be finishing the never-ending list before the kids get home and we enter homework/dinner/bathtime mode. #3 I have had insomnia for 2 1/2 years. It started over a disagreement with a teacher of my oldest. Even after that situation was resolved, my insomnia did not get better. How could such an exhausted mom have trouble sleeping? It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized I couldn’t stay asleep because I had tomorrow’s responsibilities in my subconscious. We have to learn our limits and say NO when we have reached our limits. Most of all, we have to support each other and remind each other that we have to take time out (nap) to recharge.

    • Stephanie, I’m so glad you are feeling better and sleeping better. You are right, we need to recharge, otherwise, it is just too hard to function — especially when you have such a full plate like you do! Nancy

  • Funny Franks

    I too am a homeschooling mother of 7. It is a lot of work with this many kids but if ya think about it it’s not much more than a mother who has 2 (when you have more than none your outnumbered anyway) and works part or full time. I find the “nap” time (or sitting down to watch a movie or read with the kids) is a great way to recharge….also, I think mom’s today are too busy trying to be their kids “friends” and taking on most of the household responsibilities , these chores can be great character development tools for their children. When children are expected to help (without pay!) it benefits everyone…especially them! It gives them skills they will need when they grow up. And it lets them know that the world really doesn’t revolve around them(better learn it now so they aren’t shocked later!). It shows them mom and dad love them too. Mom has more time with them and everyone, even dad, is a lot happier for it. that’s just my 2 cents.

  • Anna Haillie Pennuell

    These tips helped, thank you! My husband has been stationed in South Korea for the past 11 months and we have 1.5 left before he gets home I have to start packing to move to our next base. We have a sweet (not just saying that) happy 13-month-old daughter that I’ve been raising and I hit my limit when I found out that the Air Force is trying to keep my husband at his base as long as they legally can do he can keep training the new guys coming in. This means that not only did he have to miss out first anniversary, but he won’t be here for our second, either.

    Some say that I’m running on fumes, but truthfully I’m past that and now I’m pushing the vehicle uphill. I miss my church family. I miss having friends. I miss me. When I found out that my husband couldn’t be here for our anniversary, I opened up a bottle of wine and… should’ve thought that through since I rarely drink. Needless to say, I’m now nursing a hangover, praying, and taking care of the baby while wondering if it will ever end. I love that people are so supportive online, but I really could use some physical help. My parents love two blocks away, but they both have packed schedules all week long and my mother has health issues, so I don’t ask them for much help simply because I would rather my mom rest.

    It’s funny, she was a terrible mother. Like REALLY bad! Lol! But she’s an awesome grandmother and I’m glad my daughter can get to know her before we move. I know I’m rambling, but I can’t think straight anymore these days. It just feels nice knowing that I’m not alone in spirit and that someone out there now knows what military life is like for families. Sadly, no women at the base here have gone through this, so they don’t know how to help me. Even if they wanted to, they have little ones taking up their time, as well. None of us hardly ever get out unless it’s absolutely necessary.