Tips to fight off exhaustion

Hi folks

I hate to ask a “negative spirited” question, but if anyone knows the best way to keep going in difficult times and when one feels overbooked.

The situation is the following: I am taking care of kids from about 7am till 3 or 4 pm (2 and 4 years old). My wife wakes up at 5 am and when my wife comes back from work (between 2 to 4 pm), then I go to work as I teach at night between the hours of 5 to 9 or so. After that I take classes. This semester I am taking two classes A&PI and Eng I. I also teach on Sat afternoons 1 to 4 pm.

Two weeks into the semester and my wife and I are both exhausted. Not that we are dying but I can see that the situation is taking a toll on her health more than mine. Aside from that, there is the MCAT prep. I have a bit of time on Saturday evening, but frankly, when 9pm hits the clock, I am just too exhausted and usually will fall asleep at 9:30pm. The Sundays, we have to clean up the house and do everything that we don’t do during the week, including grading, course prep, and homework for me, so I have about 2 to 3h for me. Pretty much, any time during the day (any day), if I lay down, I will fall asleep. I feel constantly tired, and so does my wife.

We don’t have family around to help. We had a nanny the entire year up to the summer. At this point, and financially, a nanny may be doable but based on past experience, we are not willing to really take that road.

For me the exhausting part are the kids, not the work. For my wife it is the fact that she wakes up at 5 am and then takes care of the kids after work.

We can’t have it all, I understand that, but my wife is not compromising on the fact that the kids will stay home, at least for this semester. They may go part-time next semester. Although we know that they will get sick for a few weeks and since we have no family around, this will put us in difficult situations (we have been there in the past). Our schedules will remain close to what they are now hopefully, as we find out a few weeks before the semester starts and that’s why it is so hard to plan.

The feeling right now is that I constantly have to catch up. Not that I am falling behind, but I feel like I keep running all the time without time to take a “deep breath” as gonnif would say.

If you have any tips to keep going, at least till December, I will take that. Many of you have kids and have taken this road, so what worked for you is always a welcome suggestion.

Thanks all.

Wow, you are singing my song exactly! We have one daughter who isn’t in school (she’s 4), but because we both worked full time prior to me starting my pre-med journey, she’s been in an amazing daycare since she was 3 months old. It’s a school where she thrives…she’s overjoyed to run in every morning, and she is really coming into her own there. No complaints about daycare.

If that’s not an option for you or your wife (for whatever reason), and the nanny isn’t a viable option right now… have you thought about a compromise? In my city, there are lots of “mothers/fathers day out” programs. These are usually based in churches or community centers (or something like a YMCA), and allow you to have your kids there either 2 or 3 days a week from the hours of 9am-2pm. So it’s not all week, and it’s not all day… but it’s a break! That would get your kids some great socialization and play time, free up a few blocks in the week for you to get some school work done, or do some MCAT prep…or do some household things that would make life easier on your wife once she comes home (or all of the above!) It’s like a supervised play date that you don’t have to attend. Bonus: These programs are PENNIES compared to daycare. My cowork has her 2 year old daughter in one and pays $165 a month… we pay that per WEEK for daycare! So something like that could give you some relief during the day.

From your wife’s side of things, if she is working all day and then taking care of the kids at night, that’s a full day…and it sounds unavoidable, since she has to work and you have to go to class. Do you have neighbors with kids? Any friends within driving distance with kids? If you do, talk to them about a baby-sitting group. The way it works with ours: you team up with another couple and you agree to watch their kids AND yours for…say…1 or 2 nights a week. Then, they do the same thing for you for 1 or 2 nights a week. If your kids are about the same age, this is pretty easy, honestly.

In my experience, when you’re exhausted like your wife? It’s amazing how much good just one free night can do… it’s like it gives you the strength to get through the rest of the week! Having one solid evening to yourself to rest and recoup can work wonders for your health, your energy, and your marriage!!!

Honestly, there is no way that we could sustain 2 full time jobs, all our volunteer stuff we do, maintaining our home, preserving the integrity of our family, AND me going to school… no way all that could happen without community. We’ve reached out to people, formed some family-type relationships with a few other couples, and we rely hard on each other to step in and help. (It takes a village, right?)

You say that you “can’t have it all…” but you also can’t do it all! The two of you aren’t superheroes… and my suggestion would be to find a way to relieve the pressure for both of you as quickly as possible! If you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before all the different components start to suffer…and that’s just not worth it.

I am speaking from experience… so just take it for what it’s worth! Best of luck to you. Just reading your post made me tired! I really hope that you find a solution that allows both you and your wife to catch your breath a little!

Just thought of one more thing… (sorry for the barrage, but I really, truly can empathize with your situation!) We had to give up cleaning our house. With everything else going on, something had to give. So we found a team of 2 women who are trying to start a business…found them on Craigslist. They come every other Friday and clean our home from the baseboards up. Because they are new and just getting started, we pay them $50 each time to clean our 3k square foot, 4BR, 3.5 BA home. To me, that is WELL worth the cost. I can scrounge around in my budget and find $50… just not eating out, getting fewer cups of coffee, etc.

They don’t come every week… but we know our home is thoroughly cleaned twice a month, and we just keep the clutter to a minimum on the off weeks. It seemed a little wasteful at first, but I can’t tell you how much burden is lifted between us both to just know that it’s taken care of. It is SO worth it…

Is that something you could look into as well? One less thing to do on the weekends…(and it’s not by coincidence that we have them come on Friday. It feels so good to get home Friday night and have a clean house! So if we want to have people over, etc., we do NOT have to worry about it…)

Back when I was in nurse-midwifery school, working full-time, and single-parenting 3 kids, I was definately feeling the exhaustion.

Rarely, I’d call a friend who would “babysit” in the house, while I took a nap. She usually did some lite housework too. Just having a 3 hour break made a HUGE impact when I really couldn’t keep it going. My work schedule was 12 hours on weekends,so I had the kids during the week and my ex-husband watched the kids when I worked, usually.

I found taking them to the pool in the summer, or the playground in the winter, with a strategically packed bag, helped a lot with the tiredness from “kid duty” during the day. Bring snacks and reading for your classes (or your work for that matter) and positiion yourself line of site, but there should be some good time playing with them and 15 minutes at a time, perhaps, when they are amused playing themselves. (2 and 4…sandbox?).

You both need some sleep. You all could strive for you having a partial day “off” a week and your wife having an evening “off” a week - NOT a nanny but some “respite” care.

There isn’t some magic formula to enable you to go for long periods without sleep. If you can’t get sleep, get some horizontal time. The kids nap time was time they had to rest quietly on their beds, and I often layed down as well…fools your body into thinking you have had a sleep if you rest. And those “power naps” can give a lot of help.

Perhaps you could do without one of the two classes you are currently in? It’s not worth your sanity! And that would put you home earlier some nights a week and maybe YOU could be the help for your wife.

It just sounds like it is too hard, and if it sounds too hard, maybe it is. So what can be done to ease things?

Best of luck,


General tips:

First of all, eat healthy! Maintenance of good health will help energy levels, and the old yarn of everything in moderation rings true. Eating a good balanced diet will result in better overall health, which will help wakefulness. If you use multivitamins or omega-6 or whatnot, keep with that too. Consider every cheeseburger you replace with a salad to be another 10 minutes of wakefulness, if you will.

Next, know your sleep cycles, and don’t break them up. If one cycle for you goes for about 6 hours, then try to work your schedule such that you sleep six hour blocks. Power-napping is also useful. It takes a little time to get into the rythym, but with a little training and routine, your body will recognize naps for what they are ans shoot straight into REM-stage sleep as soon as you take one. As for your falling asleep any time you lie down, it sounds as if your body is already hinting it wants to do this.

On that note, schedule is important as well. If your body knows certain hours are “sleep hours”, then it’ll adjust your cycles to make the most of them. This is simply a matter or prioritization and discipline. I’d sit down with your wife and try to work out a schedule as firm as possible- who takes care of the kids when, who sleeps when, etc. And while it seems like the best idea, don’t put sleep as the lowest priority. The fact is, getting adequate sleep will result in your getting more ROI for an amount of time spent in class or studying. You may not get eight hours a night- but if you can find six hours with a pair of 30 minute power naps, then that’s what you need to do.

I hear you! How can I be four weeks behind three weeks into the semester! Same kind of deal, job and a half, school, wife, kids . . .

I agree with the other posts! Sleep can’t be ignored without peril to those other categories. I also had to kick two of my favorite things this semester . . . sugar and caffeine. They were doing more harm than good.

I’ve also tried very hard to shed my expectations. I’ve got a 4.0, I tend to demand the continued trend. But it’s not realistic, at least for me. I’m going to work for a B in Organic Chem this semester, not an A. I’ll take A’s in my other 4 classes, but for me to move up in Organic I sense would require an extra 15 hours a week that don’t exist, so I’m going to adjust my expectations.

Good luck!


Thank you all for these suggestions. I do appreciate all the pieces of advice you are sharing with me.

I have had my share of challenging times in my life, but right now, I’d say that I facing quite a challenge trying to cumulate all these tasks and most importantly excel at them.

We will definitely reach out for help, cleaning and babysitting are things we are considering now, because we can see the situation. There are two things we are not doing and we should be doing: working out and eating healthy. I guess we will try harder.

Sleeping is a bit of hard one, because any free time we have we are constantly thinking of advancing work. We are getting about 6h of sleep a night, which is OK if we didn’t have to run after the kids all day.

Thanks again for all these tips. I will discuss with my wife all these excellent points (probably over the week-end because we don’t talk much during the week).

God bless.