How To Have More Energy As a Busy Mom

You’re telling me it’s possible to have MORE energy when I’m already ready for bed by 10 am and my kids have been up for 5 hours, we’ve played all the games, read all the books, had multiple snacks, and there’s still 2394897 hours until naptime? Yes!

Whether you’re a new mom fighting sleepless nights with a newborn and trying to figure out how you’re supposed to nap AND eat AND do laundry; or have toddlers running around, keeping you on your toes like a ninja because everytime you look away they’ve got something in their mouth, up their nose, or have suddenly become the next Usain Bolt (how did they get THAT far THAT quickly?!) — you’re exhausted.

While there’s only so much that can be done when lack of sleep is a factor, there are a few key things that can still make a big difference:

  1. Hydration
  2. Balanced meals (especially breakfast)
  3. Lowering stress
  4. Sleep hygiene

Hydration: Staying hydrated can help you have more energy

hand holding a mug, resting on a knee

You probably already know drinking enough water is important, it’s the how part you struggle with. We’ll get to that, I promise. But first, just to recap the importance of hydration:

Even mild dehydration (just from daily activities – oh like keeping my baby from going after cords for the millionth time, conceding to my toddler’s pleas of “carry you, carry you”, household chores, and lugging multiple bags and wrestling kids into clothes and into the car whenever we go somewhere? Those daily activities?) can affect energy levels, mood, memory, and brain performance.

So, when you’re bone tired, about to snap at your kids, can’t remember that thing you were just about to do, and “ugh, can someone else please decide what’s for dinner?” – check in to see if you need to drink some water.

Hm. Excuse me while I go get a drink of water.

Hydration is especially important if you’re also a nursing mom. Fluid needs increase while breastfeeding and it’s important to drink enough not only for your milk supply, but to continue to feel good as well. Most nursing moms need ~128 fl ounces/day.

Some signs you need more water:

  • You’re thirsty
  • Have a headache
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Dark urine

If you have pale yellow pee, you’re doing well!

Okay, so you decide that yes, you do need to drink more water, but it’s a struggle! You forget, you don’t have time, or you just don’t like water.

Try these tips!

  1. Use a straw (we take in more liquid and it’s easier to drink this way), a fun water bottle (makes drinking easier/more enticing), or heck, even a Camelbak
  2. Drink something tasty: tea, or cold-brewed tea; seltzer water, mineral water, electrolyte mixes, mineral mocktails, smoothies, decaf coffee
  3. Match the season: hot tea or coffee, warm water with lemon, iced cold water
  4. Set reminders or use an app (Waterminder, Waterllama, Aqualert)
  5. Incorporate more water-rich foods, such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery, watermelon, zucchini, peaches, tomatoes, apples – you’ll get more water and electrolytes without actually drinking more water. Water from food all counts toward fluid needs.
  6. Enjoy soups – another way to get more fluids in without drinking water

Balanced meals, especially breakfast, can help you have more energy throughout the day

plate of food consisting of scrambled eggs with spinach, turkey bacon, blueberries, sliced homemade blueberry muffin rounds

Similarly to water, you probably know that healthy eating is important and affects how you feel, but you struggle with either a) what exactly IS healthy these days?, b) the time, c) the energy (which is certainly a catch 22 – you know eating healthy will give you energy, but you lack energy to make healthy food…hm), or even d) guilt over taking care of you.

Let’s first address a) what is healthy?

There’s so much controversy over what’s healthy these days and that’s for many reasons: science changes, people are always trying to sell something, and different ways of eating work for different people. There’s no one size fits all.

Something that is highly adjustable, but as a foundation helps crush hunger and provide more energy for everyone, however, is simply focusing on balanced meals (not the next fad diet or whatever).

Balanced meals consist of:

  1. Protein
  2. Healthy fats
  3. Carbohydrates with fiber

Carbohydrates with fiber physically fill us up and give us energy, while protein & fat keep us full and help stretch that energy.

If we eat just carbs, we’ll get a spike and crash in energy, whereas when we pair those carbs with fat and protein, we get steady energy and no crash.

But this means we also need to eat enough. Period. Food is a lot of things, but mainly, it’s fuel, it’s energy. We need not be afraid of calories, they are literally keeping us alive and fueling our long, busy days.

I say especially breakfast because this seems to be the most skipped and least balanced meal, and yet, it sets the stage for the whole day!

Research continues to show that eating a high protein (20-30+ grams), higher fiber breakfast helps reduce hunger and cravings throughout the day. When breakfast contains more protein and fiber, it stabilizes blood sugar, helping you feel more energized for a longer period of time during the day, and prevents a blood sugar and energy crash later on. Furthermore, a bigger breakfast can support fertility.

Learn more about How to Make Balanced Meals and Why Are Balanced Meals Important?

Okay, now let’s discuss b) the time and c) the energy.

You want to eat healthily, but you’re short on time, or energy, or both, and it’s waayyy easier to grab a granola bar, chips, or fast food. How do you make healthy eating as simple as that?!

While there are certainly meal delivery services out there offering healthier, convenient meals, they’re not always affordable or practical for feeding a family. Healthy eating may require a little more work, there are quick, easy, healthy options out there to choose from!

For example, single serve Greek yogurt, a protein bar, deli meat, beef jerky, hard boiled eggs, canned chicken or tuna, etc. are all quick protein ideas as quick as grabbing a granola bar. If you’re used to skipping meals or only grabbing one thing, at least focus on protein first. Is one dinky little container of Greek yogurt enough for a meal? No. But, is it more filling and going to offer more steady energy than a muffin, granola bar, or chips on their own? Very likely. If you can, pair the yogurt (or other protein option) with the granola bar, add in some nuts and fruit and you’ve got yourself a more balanced meal.

Sometimes, quick options DO require a little bit of preparation ahead of time, but nothing that takes too long, and something that you will definitely thank yourself later for. For example, a great breakfast option is egg muffins or egg bakes. They’re full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber from added veggies. Plus, you can make it once and eat it all week. Sure, it requires some forward thinking, but actually making it doesn’t take much time or effort, and then breakfast is as easy as grabbing a muffin or a slice of casserole all week long.

For more help with quick options and working healthy eating into YOUR lifestyle, consider working with a dietitian.

Lastly, let’s address d) guilt over taking care of you

This one is a biggy. It could be its own post all together.

I feel like self-care is such a buzz word these days, but it absolutely matters, even in the most basic sense.

The definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” I’m not necessarily talking about going to the spa, or getting your nails done, I mean literally meeting your basic needs for your health, like getting enough food and water during the day, exercising, and taking time to relieve stress. These are not things to feel guilt over, they are things that will preserve or improve your health and meet your needs. But, I get it. I find myself feeling guilty for taking the time for these things too.

I hear it so often from my patients: they feel guilty or selfish doing things for themselves, even if it’s just making themselves a meal, or taking 20 minutes to do a workout. But, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite quotes that totally changed my mindset on this:

Give the world what’s best of you, not what’s left of you.

You’re busy taking care of everyone else (your kids, your spouse, maybe a sibling, a parent), which often leaves you on the back burner. You make sure the kids eat, or at least they eat first. But, perhaps your meal is interrupted with “I didn’t get a fork” “more raspberries” “I dropped my water” or food pelting you in the face. Or, perhaps the morning is so busy, you get your kids fed and out the door, but you go by the wayside and all of a sudden it’s the middle of the afternoon and all you’ve had is coffee and your kids’ leftovers.

But let me ask you this, how are you doing as a parent when you’re running on empty? When you’re hangry and dehydrated, and feeling overwhelmed? How are you handling the baby crying, the toddler testing boundaries, the kids arguing? With grace and patience? I know I’ve been there and I did not handle those situations well if I didn’t take care of myself. But, when I’m well-nourished, when I’m hydrated, when I’m less stressed, I’m a better mom. When you take care of yourself, you have more energy, patience, and presence for those you’re taking care of, and you can care for them better. Give them what’s best of you, not what’s left of you.

So that’s part of it. The other part is that eating well, staying hydrated, exercising, these are things that are just generally healthy and will help you living longer. Now, I’m going to make the assumption that most parents want to be around for their kids as they grow up, and have energy to do things with and for them. They want to go on adventures, have fun with their kids, help them grow and mature, see their kids graduate high school, college, get married, maybe have children of their own someday. Your kids also need you and want you to be there for them. They have so much to learn from you and so much love to be given. Well, being there for that – and feeling energized for all those future moments – starts with taking care of yourself today. While you may feel guilty for taking a little time for yourself to exercise or make a healthy meal, consider it a long term investment in your future and in your kid’s lives. You’re doing it for you, but also for them. I hope that helps.

Lowering stress: stress-related emotions take up a lot of energy and deplete nutrients needed to make energy

devotional book opened

The second I became a mom it was a like a big ol’ dump truck came and just heaped a pile of stress on me, unlike any I had had before. All of a sudden I had all these newfound worries about my child (and husband) I didn’t have before: Are they breathing? Are they safe in the care? Are they getting enough to eat? The right things to eat? Is there anything in here they can choke on? How do I help them learn to share? To listen? And, “hey, be careful on top of that couch!”... the list goes on and on and on. Not to mention the day to day stress of things like getting out the door on time, finding childcare, balancing work and household chores, etc.

And stress drains your energy, mentally and physically. There’s been days I’ve reached bedtime and felt utterly exhausted having done very little physical exertion. It’s due to being stressed and trying to juggle all the things all day. It’s tiring!

So, what can be done? It’s not always easy to just “be less stressed.” If you can, try one or more of these strategies:

  1. Pray. The Bible says Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God: Philippians 4:6 NIV. If I did not pray and give God my worries and fears, I do not know where I would be – a totally stressed out mess, probably, that’s where. He is my saving grace. When I’m feeling stressed or worried, I pray, and I feel more secure. It’s something I’ve had to work on though. I have to continually refer back to versus like this, and I’ll regularly complete devotional plans about stress, worry, and anxiety. The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith. I read that recently in a devotional and it completely changed my perspective.
  2. Have strategies to reduce feelings of stress.
    Journaling and getting stressors out of your head and onto paper
    Quiet activities (reading, coloring)
    Box breathing
    Cold showers (or simply putting your face in a bowl of ice water)
    Going for a walk
    Getting sunshine or using a happy light
    Exercise, which is shown to help relieve stress and boost mood.

    For me, exercise is a big one. When I get moving, I feel better. I feel more calm and able to have a clearer head and better approach to the things I find stressful.
  3. Address diet or other lifestyle factors.
    Certain lifestyle factors can affect how you respond to stress. What you eat also has huge effects on mood and stress levels.

    Balanced meals for starters can help regulate blood sugar, which, when out of balance can have similar symptoms to anxiety.

    Additionally, certain nutrients, like adequate amino acids, magnesium, omega-3 fats, and B vitamins are imperative for brain function and help reduce stress and anxiety. Minerals (such as magnesium, sodium, potassium) also get depleted with chronic stress, so it’s important to incorporate more mineral rich foods, liquids, or even supplements (talk with a provider for recommendations).

    Overall gut health can affect the stress response and feelings of anxiety as well due to the gut -brain axis, but that is a whole other topic. The most important thing to know is that eating enough fiber helps build healthy gut microbiota and a healthy gut lining. If you feel you need help with gut health and digestion, work with a dietitian.
  4. Seek counseling. Stress can be too much to handle on your own, and it’s helpful to talk it out with a counselor or therapist who’s practiced in both helping you manage stress and responding to your thoughts and worries. It can be helpful to talk it out with friends, family, spouses, etc., but they are not always well versed in how to respond to you and help you feel better (like when my husband says “just stop worrying about it” …not helpful), or worse, they give you bad advice. That is when a professional is a great resource to rely on for counseling.

Sleep hygiene: better quality sleep can help you have more energy

woman sleeping on her side in a bed with white sheets, arm outstretched

In the early years of motherhood, there is only so much you can do about sleep. Whether you are in the throws of the newborn stage and waking up frequently at night, or have a toddler or little kid who doesn’t sleep well, we can only do our best. I also tend to work with many moms who are nurses and work night shift – a double whammy. But, I wanted to touch on sleep hygiene because while there’s not always much you can do about a child who’s waking up in the middle of the night, or has a hard time falling asleep. There are things you can do, however, that ARE in your control, largely around sleep hygiene.

  • As much as possible, limit screens/blue light before bed. These keep you up and make it harder to fall asleep. If you need to look at screens, wear blue light blocking glasses and use night mode on your phone/computer screen if you can. Actually when I was college, I had f.lux on my Macbook. It would turn my computer screen yellow and orange as the daylight disappeared and I’d begin to fall asleep at my computer if I stayed up late. If I had an assignment to finish, I’d disable f.lux and BAM! the bright, blue light would instantly wake me back up.
  • Try to avoid staying up later unnecessarily before bed. While scrolling Instagram may be a way to mentally check out from the day, or have “me” time once the kids are in bed – I know, I catch myself doing this more often than I should – it’s not helping you go to sleep any sooner, or waking up earlier feeling fully refreshed.
  • Limit caffeine later in the day. While this is individual, if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, try limiting caffeine before noon. If you need an afternoon cup of coffee, try decaf (this has actually become one of my favorite things in the afternoon).
  • Exercise. It’s not always easy as a mom, I know, but if and when you can incorporate more movement in your day, it does help you fall asleep and sleep better at night. This movement could be squeezing 10-15 min on your own, or playing at the park with your kids, squatting while holding your baby, stroller walks, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed. It’s disruptive to sleep and often causes you to wake up feeling groggy
  • Make your room as dark as possible. Limit small lights, use shades, curtains, or blackout curtains
  • Keep your room at a comfortably cool temperature when possible. I say this because if you have a baby or child sleeping in your room, it may be a little warmer than you prefer as an adult, but when you can, keep it cool.
  • Avoid large meals before bed. While having a small bedtime snack is totally fine and may actually help sleep, if your body is trying to digest a large meal before bed it can affect digestion and sleep quality.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. Just like a routine helps your kids begin to feel tired and signal their body’s that it’s bedtime, the same is true for you as an adult. As much as possible, try to do the same few things each night to help you fall asleep more easily. (Ex. My current bedtime routine is: magnesium drink, brush teeth, pray with my husband, read)


Overall, when we are taken care of, when we eat enough nourishing meals, stay hydrated, have higher quality sleep, and stress less, we feel better and have more energy. It’s not always easy to do these things, but if you want to feel good and have more energy, begin prioritizing at least one that feels doable. Maybe it’s starting with drinking more water OR eating a balanced breakfast OR limiting scrolling before bed, and then building from there! If you’re not sure where to start, or how to fit these nutrition and lifestyle changes in to your already busy day, I can help!

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