Through out the year on the blog, I try to answer as many reader questions as I can. But I don’t always have the needed personal experience to respond to all reader questions. Yes I can apply processes and strategies that I know to different situations, but when I share advice on the blog, I like it to have a personal experience element as well.
I had this question from a reader down on my list to find a guest writer to answer it and Lucy from Beanstalk Single Mums has kindly offered her personal experience to answer it.
I know there are many readers who are single mums too, so if you have a tip to share, please leave it in the comments below too!
More about SOLO parents & how they find “MUM” time & the time to plan so they have space for being present & calm with their kids- not specifically being single – but I’m in a partnership where husband earns the money & that is it – period. ( he is a great dad & plays with boys) housework, cooking, cleaning – organising & bill paying are ALL ME which I find makes me end up feeling like I don’t have the space to be the “fun parent” who can relax , play & enjoy parenting (stressing too much about what needs to be done)…. I’m interested in how single mum’s “do everything” & still manage to parent intently & calmly while having some sense of order & control. “
Being a single parent in today’s fast-paced world can be hard. My apologies if this is an understatement. The need to work, running the home and the seemingly increasing mass of extra-circular activities, takes parenting to a whole new level.
Yet with our challenges, we learn. We have to adapt to a new way of life. One in which we juggle many roles, all whilst being the very best mum we can be.
You don’t have to look far nowadays to see a successful, happy single mother. They are everywhere. On the media, in government, in the school playground.
So how do we plan mum-time and me-time, and get to the end of each day without looking (and feeling) like we’ve done twelve rounds in a boxing ring?
Here are some simple steps to help.
1. Discover your me-time activities
What do you love to do? You may have been chugging along on the mum train for so long that you’ve forgotten. Write a list of things that make you happy. Of course, the trip to Mexico may not be possible right now, but many of the little things will be. They could be as simple as coffee at your favourite café, a walk on the beach or reading. Or something slightly bigger and ongoing, like joining a gym, a dance class or reigniting a hobby.
2. Do a weekly planner
People think I’m crazy when I suggest this, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds, and I promise it is worth it. Using a weekday planner only (as it’s nice to go ad hoc at the weekends) simply list what you do. It will be easy as your days are likely to be repetitive and in chunks of things like work, travel, kids activities, dinner, homework etc. Now add in a least two me-time activities from your list above. If need be, adjust the planner to fit them in. Now you have planned mum-time AND me-time into your week.
3. Learn to compartmentalize
It’s not as easy as simply writing it on a planner. You must follow it. And this is where the power of compartmentalisation (or time chunking) comes in. As you go through your week make sure you only focus on the planned activity at any one time. If you blend them and attempt too much at once your productivity will fall. And this is particularly important for your me-time activity. Planners can be changed, so if something isn’t working for you make an adjustment and try again next week. You will eventually have a perfectly planned schedule.
4. Team up with your kids
Single mums need support from their children to get through the day. And this is great advice to all parents. Explain that you would like to include a few mummy treats into your week, and to do this you need to make small changes. Your children love you and want you to be happy. It’s also a valuable lesson for them to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and they occasionally have to make sacrifices for other people.
5. Expect the unexpected
Being a single parent is about the expecting the unexpected. And when it happens, we take the full brunt. A carefully planned day can collapse with a poorly child. And with the absence of a partner for back-up, we simply have to go with the flow. The sooner you accept this, the easier it is. Stay calm and focus on one problem at time. Yes, it may be annoying to miss a day of work, but use it as a day to relax and have serious cuddle time with your child. Every cloud has a silver lining .. and single mums are experts in finding them.
Beanstalk is an online space which empowers single mothers to re-find their potential and re-build their confidence through a website that delivers targeted information and support.
Lucy works with hundreds of single mothers through the offering of her online course and her Facebook group. She is a blogger, podcaster and mentor. She also speaks regularly on a local radio station, writes articles for the online parenting community and continually hunts down resources of benefit to the single motherhood.