Being a single mom is an extremely hard thing for any woman since you have to juggle being a mom, supporting your family and taking care of the home tasks all at the same time. I always looked up to my mom for her strength, perseverance and ability to be the most amazing single mother that I had ever known. She wasn’t only my mom but also a best friend to me since it was just the two of us for the past 32 years. Little did I know, I would face the same obstacle when I got older and I would have to do the same thing that she had to – gather all of my strength to be the best single mother that I could possibly be.
During my time as a single mom I’ve learned many tips and tricks that get me through the day, help me to stay organized, help me to stay sane and allow me to balance everything that needs to be done in a day. Of course, I still have off days and my tips and tricks aren’t foolproof, but they will help you to stay at least slightly more sane!
Stick to a Schedule
When you’re wearing so many hats as a single mom it’s very important that you stick to a schedule. Sit down and plan out a morning routine, night routine and a daily schedule for yourself and your children. Your can write your schedule out and post it in a place that you will see it every day or you could use your phone’s calendar to time block your schedule. This will help you to know what’s coming next in your day, plan your tasks around your schedule and it will help you to feel less overwhelmed. Over time you will learn your schedule without having to look at it and things will flow a little smoother for you and your family.
While planning your schedule it’s important to remember to simplify whatever you can simplify during your day. I like to plan my day the night before, make the kids’ lunches and set out their school clothes the night before and pre-cook meals during the weekend so I don’t have too much to do during the week when I am most busy. There are so many ways that you can simplify your life to make things easier for yourself, you just have to figure out where your problem areas are. I like to simplify my mornings because I’m not a morning person and hate waking up.
Ask for Help
Asking for help can be extremely difficult when you’re an extremely stubborn person, as I am, but it’s very important when you’re a single mother. You can’t do it all on your own. You’re not superwoman. There are times in life when you need to swallow your pride and ask for help from a friend, family member or your mom. I tried to do it all by myself in the beginning and I refused to accept help from anyone until I got completely overwhelmed, burnt out and had a complete breakdown. Once I was completely at my limit I realized that I had to accept help from my mom. I realized that she wasn’t going to judge me and think that I was incapable of doing things on my own because she’s been there. Every parent has been in our shoes and every parent has asked for help whether they were a single parent or not. Parenting is a very hard job but your burden can slightly be lifted by just asking for some help.
I’m lucky enough to have my mom living with me right now since she’s ill and can’t be left on her own. Even though she’s ill and can’t get around much she still insists on helping me every chance she gets. As much as I complain that my mom sometimes tries to take control and tries to meddle, I’m honestly thankful that I have her help and don’t know what I would do without her. Asking for help isn’t admitting failure, it’s being smart.
Take Time for Yourself
Single moms are with their kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We’re the sole caretakers of our kids and we wear all of the hats in the household; it’s a hard and tiring job. This is why it’s very important to remember to take time for yourself. This is something that most parents overlook because we’re always thinking about our kids but it’s equally important to think about ourself, our health and our sanity. Overworking yourself isn’t healthy and even single moms deserve a chance to relax.
I know what you’re thinking, “When the hell do I have time to myself?” You have to make time for yourself, silly! If your kids are school-aged you have the chance to take some time for yourself while they’re at school or at an activity. If your kids are infants or toddlers then you either have to utilize the time when they’re taking a nap or you need to reach out and have a friend or family member babysit for a few hours while you take time for yourself. If you have split custody or if you’re significant other has visitation, you can take time for yourself when your kids are with the other parent.
There are a multitude of things that you can do to relax and take time for yourself, it could be as small as taking a bath, using a face mask, watching your favorite show live (for once) or as large as going out for a night with your friends, going to a concert or going to a store by (gasp) yourself. Whatever you decide to do to take time for yourself, make sure you cherish every single moment of that relaxing time. Try to carve out time for yourself every week, this will help your sanity a good deal.
Join a Parenting Group
Being a single parent is extremely lonely at times. Sure, you have friends or family to talk to but sometimes they can’t relate to you for whatever reason. I found it very important to find a parenting group that you can socialize with. This can be a local parenting/play group or even a Facebook group of parents. I have been in a parenting group for children born around the same time as my girls and they have been a huge help to me over the years. I’ve been able to socialize with women who can relate to me because our kids are the same ages, I’ve been able to ask for age appropriate advice, read posts about challenges that they are having and knowing that I’m not alone. I’ve even had the great privilege of meeting some of these women offline and forming great friendships. There are many different parenting groups that you can join and I highly suggest joining one to ease the loneliness and have someone to talk to when you need to vent about your life or your kids.
Perfect Isn’t Reality
Everyone strives to be the perfect parent and I can’t fault anyone for that because I do the same. It’s important to realize that as much as you strive for perfection there is no such thing as perfection. Those who brag about being the perfect parent brag because they need positive reassurance for themselves. Every parent works to the best of their ability to achieve a warm and safe home for their kids, nurturing environment and to give them whatever they need in life but we all have our struggles — we all have our ups and downs. Every parent is perfect in their own way because everyone has their own definition of perfection and everyone makes their own definition of perfection. Single parents work their asses off to provide for their children and I think that’s enough without having to stress over not being perfect. Remember that you are enough.
Remember: You Are Amazing
On top of remembering that you are enough and that you’re doing the best you can, it’s also important to remember that you’re amazing. When we embark on our journeys of being a single mom we often wonder if we will be able to do this on our own. There are some single parents who wish they had a significant other or try to find a significant other so that they can have that help but it’s important to realize that you are amazing and you don’t need to rush to find a male figure for your children.
When I became a single mother I felt like I needed to find a father figure for my kids. I dated, I failed at dating and I found some real idiots along the way. I soon realized that I needed to prove to myself that I could be a good single mother before I went out to find someone else. Along the way, without even looking too hard, I found someone who is just as amazing to my kids as he is to me. Sometimes it happens when you’re not even looking so don’t stress, know that you’re enough for your kids and see what the future holds for you.
When you’re a single parent you are most likely going to be your child’s best friend as well. While it’s totally fine to be their best friend it’s also important for them to know that you are their parent and you do have the final say in what they do. It’s important to teach your kids discipline early in life when they are just learning so they know that you’re boss. In a two-parent household there’s usually one parent who is more lenient and one who is the disciplinarian but when you’re a single parent you have to wear both hats. Just be sure that your child knows when you’re their parent and when you’re their friend.
All single parents feel weak and defeated at times but you’re a strong woman. It takes an extremely strong woman to be a single parent and while you may not feel like you have anymore strength you need to reach inside yourself to find the inner strength that is hiding inside. You can do anything you set your mind to and you can be the best parent that you can be.