Describing life as a single mother can be done in four simple words: the struggle is real. You wake up everyday knowing that you are about to embark on an exhausting journey that requires at least two more hands than you have available, your patience is still running on empty from last night’s power struggle over eating vegetables, and bedtime cannot possibly come soon enough. And did I mention, once you finally collapse for the night, tired and defeated, you get to wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Welcome to life as a single mother! Between sleepless nights with a sick kid, never-ending loads of laundry, endless barrages of temper tantrums, and crying to yourself while hiding in the closet with a nearly empty bottle of wine (I personally like Riesling), you are slowly surviving mommy hood. The inevitable question that gets asked to single mothers everywhere is, how do you do it? It's a fair question, because the job is not easy. My reply has always been, “I do it because I have to. It's sink or swim at this point, and one of those isn't an option."
So how do single moms juggle a career... and kid(s)... and life, without going crazy? Here are 5 rules to live by:
1. Embrace your situation - Shut out the negative thoughts, the fear, the anxiety, and turn the can'ts into cans. Changing your mindset dramatically improves your overall mood, which improves your thoughts, which improves your actions. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Set a strict bedtime (for yourself!) - I don't need to tell you how important it is to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but in case you need a reminder... Setting a strict bedtime for yourself means you will be less tired, less stressed, and will perform better at work AND as a mommy. You need the energy to endure each day and to totally kick ass at both work and home. So do yourself a favor and catch some zzz's.
3. Exercise your body & mind - Can you say endorphins? These amazing little chemicals are released during exercise and can mimic feelings of euphoria, assist in regulating your appetite, and act as stress reducers. Aside from that, exercising is a great way to have some much needed alone time where you can be selfish and focus on yourself. Need I even go into the physical benefits? If you look good, you feel good. So go on that morning jog, sign up for yoga, or hit the weight room with a buddy. Just stay active!
4. Schedule "Me-Time" - You won't realize how much time you spend doing things for other people (especially your child) until you are a single parent. It seems that your life is no longer your own and that nothing you want to do ever fits into your schedule. So make it fit! Be intentional! Spend one hour a day doing something you're passionate about. Find a hobby and devote time every day to something you love. It's just as important to spend time with yourself as it is your child. Trust me, you are doing both of you a favor.
5. Consistency is key - Kiddos need consistency, and structure in order to be the best versions of themselves. They can't control much in this big ol' world, so routines and structure help them know what to expect each day. But guess what, same goes for you! When you are a single mommy you need to be efficient and you need to eliminate as many stressful roadblocks as possible. So create a schedule and stick to it. Be consistent with bedtimes, punishments, rewards, meal times, and bedtime routines.
Keep calm, you got this.