Twenty-Fourteen was my year as a single mom. In October 2013, my husband took a temporary job out of state that left me in DC raising our nine month old alone for a long fourteen months. I did my best cheerleading routine that we were in this together, but I quickly found myself overwhelmed. After a few months, I finally gained a rhythm that allowed me to not lose my mind, or use dry shampoo seven days a week. I was often asked, “How do you do it?” and now that my husband has been home for six blissful months, I often think “How DID I do that?”
So I sat down and tried to think of what hacks I most relied on to minimize the stress of juggling parenting alone with all of life’s other demands. After Jesus and wine, I came up with these four:
1. Skip the Grocery Store
Online grocery ordering, it’s all the rage these days. With Target, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Peapod, drive-through grocery pick-up and door-to-door grocery services are readily becoming available. You order and pay online, and can save lists for faster re-ordering. There is no end to the convenient options available. No tipping, no unbuckling, no tantrums, no lines. Just do it, sisters.
2. Night Life: Get it done.
I am NOT a morning person, so getting out of the door with kiddos is my most despised part of the day. I am also a procrastinator by default, so managing the house on my own and checking off all those mundane, daily tasks left me scrambling the next morning. Until I found some discipline and decided to push through my end-of-day exhaustion and do absolutely everything before Charlotte went to bed. So with military speed and precision, while she was strapped in eating supper, I ran around the house like a crazy mama. Down to filling tomorrow’s sippy cups and laying out clothes, it was finished so that once Charlotte was in bed, the rest of the night was mine. It allowed me to truly unwind at the end of each day, and get a good start to the next one. Bottom line: Do everything you possibly can the night before.
3. Beauty Sleep
I significantly credit my ability to sleep, work, exercise, and have normal adult interactions to my kid’s ability to sleep. From the get-go, we made deliberate efforts to keep Charlotte’s sleep patterns predictable and consistent. A few exceptions aside, she has slept through the night and napped like a champ from an early age. Bedtime battles are something we have managed to avoid and it has allowed consistent adult time in the evenings and a well-rested family in the mornings. I can’t say it was always easy, but it is not an accident that she sleeps well, and I fully credit it for my ability to balance being a mommy and still be me. So moms of really littles– start habits now that encourage healthy sleep for everyone in your house!
4. Make Time for YOU
Sometimes the idea of committing to one more thing is exhausting, even if it’s meant for your benefit. Working out is often the last thing I want to do after work, but I discovered my gym’s kid care was one of the only things that allowed me alone time as a single mama. I initially felt guilty dropping her off at another daycare, but that quickly vanished once I realized how much happier I was afterward and how much Charlotte enjoyed time with the other kids.
So explore options in your community that allow you downtime: exercising through mom groups like Stroller Strides, Mother’s Morning Out, or churches that host Parents Night Out. Exercise, book clubs, a hair appointment…whatever helps make you, you. Do that. You’ll be a better mommy and everyone will benefit.