5 Ways to Balance Being a Single Parent and Working Full Time
5 Ways to Balance Parenthood and Being a Single Mom
Four years ago, if you had told me one year later I'd become a single mother, I'd have laughed right in your face. Sadly life, love, and parenthood don't always end up the way you'd like. My daughter is over four now, and in the beginning it was intense trying to figure out who I was as a 23-year-old divorcee and single mother, who worked full-time, while then finding time to give my daughter the precious memories she deserved.
Something I discovered quickly was that between work, making dinner, and then playing with my daughter each day, I basically lost a little bit of myself. I didn't give myself time to mourn the failed relationship, or think about what I'd done wrong. I was no longer living a moving life, but one on autopilot. I think all parents feel this way in some way or another, but for me especially, who was briefly nowhere near any family or friends, it felt hopeless. Well, that is, until I discovered a few important things that ended up helping me heal, as well as becoming a better parent.
#1 Ask for Help
Maybe that sounds easy, but I know that for me (and plenty of other single parents out there) asking for help is incredibly difficult. You suddenly feel like you have something to prove. You feel like asking for help is admitting defeat, but if you keep doing everything on your own, you will get burnt out... and then you'll feel more defeated than ever. It took me too long to do this step, but once I finally started admitting I couldn't do this alone, I was shocked how many people were right there to help. Some people you can ask: family, though not everyone is close to their family whether physically or emotionally; friends; or your local church. My church home was amazing, and the Pastor and his wife often watched my daughter on an occasional night so that I could go out with a friend or get something important done at home.
#2 Find "Me" Time
Find something that you can do each day or at least each week to de-stress. For me it was writing or painting. What I liked about painting though was the fact that my daughter could sit beside me and paint too. She felt like she was helping me, yet I was actually doing a detox for my soul. Also in this category, I'd definitely say that taking a night out is important. Whether you are going out with friends, out on a date, or just shopping alone... just see if you can find a good sitter for a planned night out. The only way to get rid of that all-encompassing stress we take on is to let out a long breath and do something fun.
#3 Set Boundaries
Let your work life be your work life and your home life be home. This tip is honestly for anyone, because everyone should leave their work at work. Your children are excited to see you, and if you let your stress of work take over your world, then you aren't really with them. Same with work... though you might have an awesome boss that doesn't mind hearing about what's going on in your life, that's not really what your workplace is for. Work has so many stresses of it's own, and the best way to handle these competing stresses is to give them their own home. I found that I was almost a different person at work sometimes, and over time I saw that as a good thing.
# 4 Designate Special Time With Your Child
Make sure to spend special time with your child. I mentioned this a little before, but it's so important. Being home doesn't mean you're spending time with your child. If I'm on the couch on my phone or computer, my daughter doesn't consider that playing with her or spending time. I need to leave my comfort zone to enter her world. I don't know about other parents, but I'm not always great at sitting in one place playing dolls for two hours like my daughter is. So what I often did was play with her as long as I could, then do one of the chores I needed to do and come back. Another great tip I found that helped was that I started letting my daughter help me with chores. She loves helping me make dinner, so I'd let her do some of the easier tasks. I started realizing she just loved to help me and be with me no matter what we were doing. So if I was cleaning the kitchen, she'd wipe a table or sweep (because she loves it). One of my favorite things though, was that specifically one day each weekend was "Abby & Mommy Day". She always knew to count on the fact that on that day, I was totally hers and we'd do anything she wanted. Following her around often reminded me to stop and smell the roses as she did.
#5 Just Breathe
Parenthood is a commitment, and sometimes we aren't ready for the challenges that may come with that. The trick to being a good parent though is stepping up and doing what you have to do to give your child an amazing childhood and keeping a roof over their heads.
Sometimes I lose my temper, and sometimes I'm burnt out beyond all reason, but the best thing is that my daughter still is there excitedly wrapping her arms around me. Your child will forgive tiredness, and even a bad attitude, but my above tips should at least help you balance your own life and wellness along with your child's.
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to add a few tips, please feel free to comment below!
© 2017 Mycheille Norvell