Single parenting seems to be synonymous for exhaustion.
I live on caffeine and sugar, and a constant nagging feeling that I’m going to forget something. I live with a feeling of being behind and always wanting to rush to “catch up”. So what kind of sanity savers for single moms are there?
I don’t have much of a support team to help me out with driving, child care or getting a break. And while my kids do see their father regularly, with an infant, a business and a home, there’s no time, it seems, to sit down and put my feed up. But there are a few tools and tips I’ve learned that are great sanity savers for single moms.
First, use what support you have.
I don’t have a lot of support, but I use what I have. For me, this happens to be more community-based than friends-and-family. There are library programs, drop-in child care through my local YMCA, and church based drop-off programs I use regularly. Most of these are free or low-cost, which mean they are accessible to single parents on strict budgets, like me.
The hour or so of childcare that I get from these programs is usually spent on my business. But I’ve also gotten a few groceries, ran through a dollar store to pick up a few things, and even had a nap in my car.
I use community resources in other ways too. For example, many grocery stores now offer a click-and-collect program, meaning you can shop for groceries online, and arrange a time to pick up. That saves me time and money, and the stress of taking kids to a store. My doctor’s office lets me set appointments via email. And I look for service providers that are child-friendly– like a chiropractor that offers childcare options with their appointments, or a car repair shop that has toys in their waiting room.
Second, automate what you can.
When you don’t have a lot of time to do all the things, when you can have them done for you, it’s great. So I automate whatever I can. Subscription programs to my regularly-purchased items, such as baby diapers, not only save me time, but often you can get a discount on them. And my bills are paid on time, because they are automatically paid online.
Third, use technology to help!
I’m a huge proponent of making technology work for you. I use whatever I can to help simplify, track and plan my life, whenever possible.
Whenever I have an appointment, it goes into my calendar as soon as possible, with an automatic reminder. So I rarely forget anything. I might still be late (because kids!), but I rarely forget about the appointment.
I track my kids’ growth and medical needs using apps online. That way, I know their current shoe and clothing sizes, and I can track their growth and milestones. I also keep a gift list, and shop all year round for birthdays and Christmas, so I’m never stuck with a huge bill at certain times of the year. I track it on my phone, so I don’t buy duplicates either.
Fourth, plan for downtime.
We can get so busy! As a single mom, it can be hard for me to take the time off, both on my own and with my kids, so I have to plan for it. Recently I planned a day trip to a local amusement park with my kids. It was a blast! We left the park with my kids begging to come back, even after having spent 8 hours there.
But you don’t have to plan day trips or longer vacations to have fun with your kids, or even for yourself. Build in to your budget and plan your days around opportunities to have fun. For example, I will budget and plan for ice cream after baseball a few times during the season.
And I make a point of stopping for coffee between running kids to music lessons and gymnastics, because that gives me a few minutes to stop and breathe. Despite all the experts’ advice to save the money of your take-out coffee, the price of the coffee is worth every penny. Because that’s my sanity I’m paying for.
Fifth, do things that are just for you, without the guilt!
This one is tricky. It’s so easy to feel guilty about stuff, as moms, right? But doing things just for you, and choosing not to feel guilty is a sanity saver.
So I bought ice cream popsicles, just for me. I ate them, in front of my kids! And I did NOT share. In fact, I told them flat out they were for me, not for them, and they couldn’t have any. Sure they pouted a bit, but they got over it, and I enjoyed my treat.
I’ve painted my toenails, without doing theirs. I’ve given my kids popcorn and let them watch a movie, without me, so I could sit in my room, in the peace and quiet, and just read a book, or play a video game. No shame.
Single or not, moms need sanity savers.
I’ve said it before, you can’t give on empty. When you’re empty, you’re not going to be able to help your kids, or even be the best mom you want to be. You have to take advantage of what you can in order to save your sanity. Little things like drive thrus, online shopping, and community-based child-care can make or break your day. Use what resources you have, and make life just a little bit easier.
After all, parenting can make you crazy. And single moms need sanity savers, wherever they can get them.