If anyone needs some time for pampering and self-reflection, it's a single mom. Single motherhood demands so much of a woman that it barely gives her time to sit back, breathe, and enjoy the moment.
A partnered mom can ask her spouse to keep an eye on the kids while she takes a few minutes of quiet time. A single mom doesn't have that option. Her time is spent single-handedly tending to her children's needs.
A single mom needs to be able to manage her time and avoid getting too stressed out. If left unmanaged, stress can easily become chronic and affect your mental and physical health. Getting some time to yourself is essential not only for your personal fulfillment but also for the smooth functioning of your household and happiness of your children.
Time for yourself doesn't necessarily mean time by yourself, although some alone time is important for mental health. Time to yourself can be spent just about any way you enjoy. You can work on a hobby, meditate, pray, read, listen to music, or go out for a relaxing evening with people you care about.
Despite the challenging circumstances of your life, you don't have to let yourself be completely swamped. You do have options that can help you manage your time and get the peace and quiet you need.
When you set a schedule and stick to it, you can usually fit in some time that's designated just for you.
Staying organized can be a great help when you want to make some extra time for yourself. When things are running smoothly, you don't have to waste time backtracking, fixing mistakes, and looking for things that have been misplaced.
- Some families have way too much "stuff." If your family falls into this category, do something about it. Have a de-junking of your home or apartment and rid yourself of all the non-essential items that are causing clutter. Throw away things that are useless and donate anything that might be useful to someone.
- Create a family schedule. If rushing around to make appointments is eating up your day and slowing you down, creating a family schedule might be just the thing to help. Pick up a dry erase board from an office supply store and write out the highlights and reminders for the week. You can do this on Sunday nights so that the new week can start off on the right foot.
- If your kids' rooms are a point of contention, do some basic organizing. Buy plastic tubs or stacking drawers and mark them to hold toys, clothes and other items. Make sure each child has a laundry bag for dirty clothes, too. Work with your children to help them learn to put items in the correct places.
- Make some meals ahead, if you can. Cooking can take up a lot of your evening. If you cook several meals on a weekend and freeze them for later use, you can come home to delicious meals that can be quickly warmed up in the microwave or oven. Do some research first to choose recipes that freeze well, and follow directions for proper wrapping and storage.
- If you want to have some time to yourself, you have to put it into your schedule. First, take a look at your schedule and figure out if there's anything that can be dropped. While most of the things we do each day are vital to the functioning of the family, sometimes we over-schedule ourselves and take on extraneous tasks. It's not necessary to be Super Mom; it's okay to say "no" every once in a while if you think that taking on yet another commitment will be too much.
- Now look at your day and find a time when you can be alone. For many parents, single and otherwise, this time comes when the kids go to bed. Get your children on a predictable bedtime schedule so that you can look forward to some peace and quiet at around the same time every night. Some single moms prefer the morning for their quiet time. If you're one of these women, set your clock so you have some extra time before the day begins.
- It's also not impossible to have some time to yourself while the kids are still awake. This option isn't really workable if you have babies and toddlers, but if your kids are old enough to entertain themselves safely while you're in a nearby room, you can pull it off. Give them some toys or put on a video and let them know you're going to have some "mom time." Set the stove timer and let them know that when the timer goes off, you'll be ready to join them again.
- Your lunch hour or break time at work can be another time you can have a quiet moment. You might be able to take time to sit quietly, thumb through a magazine, or do a quick meditation.
- Sometimes, you might be able to arrange childcare so that you can have time to yourself. If finances allow, you can hire a sitter from time to time. Grandparents and other relatives might be glad to watch the kids for you as well. If you're lucky enough to get these days off, you might want to use them to take a spa day (whether at a real spa, or using your own treatments at home), visit a library or museum, or have a night out with the girls.
- Play dates can be a great way to relax with other moms while the kids play together. Find a group of moms in your area who can get together on weekends or evenings for some conversation and fun.
Managing Your Feelings
Many single moms feel guilty when they take some time away from the kids. This is especially true when you're going out of the house and leaving the kids with a sitter.
Guilt is such an integral part of being a mother in our society; it can be incredibly hard to let it go. You need to try to move past guilt, though, if you want to live a full life and be the best mother to your kids that you can.
When you take time for yourself, you're working on who you are as a person, and the results will naturally benefit your children.