Being a mom is always hard but this year has taken the cake for struggling. Given that I have an adult child and only one to homeschool and still actively raise, this was not what I expected this year. But then, I think we’re all saying that, aren’t we?
As difficult as it’s been, there are some things that have made it a little easier. And these tips can help make things easier for you too.
Whether you use them just to get through the holidays and whatever else 2020 has in store for us, or you choose to implement them in your life permanently, these tips can make the mom life a little easier.
Sleep is essential
Look, I get it. When I get behind, I’m tempted to stay up late or get up early to try to catch up. But sleep is essential.
Without sleep, everything suffers. You lack patience, creativity, clarity, and energy. You’ll struggle to get through a normal day, much less one that’s packed with to-do’s. Your parenting, work, cleaning, and everything else takes a hit because you’re just not able to function at full capacity.
As tempting as it may be to skimp on sleep so you can get more done, the best thing you can do is stay on top of your sleep. Aim for 7–9 hours every night. If you can sleep in a bit on the weekends, go for it.
And when you have a restless night, try to find time for a quick nap the next day. Even a 10–20 minute power nap can help.
Cleaning can wait
If your home looks like an episode of Hoarders, this tip may not be for you. But for the average mom, cleaning can wait. You don’t have to keep a completely spotless home 24/7/365 to be a good mom.
Let the laundry sit unfolded on the couch or even in the dryer for a day or two. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Spend the time with your kids instead.
If the kids are already in bed, use the time to get some sleep or even just relax. Sometimes you just need a break to not do anything at all.
Do one fun thing with your kids every day
Cooking, cleaning, homework, work, bills, discipline… there are lots of things that we need to do every day. And it’s easy for fun to get lost in that mix of must-do’s. But fun matters too.
Take a few minutes every day to do something fun with your kids. Have a dance party in the living room. Play a board game. Go out for ice cream before dinner.
Fun doesn’t have to mean spending a weekend at a theme park or ignoring responsibility. Keep it simple. Keep it short.
Do it every day so it becomes a habit to have fun instead of being something that happens only sometimes.
Don’t let what matters suffer for things that don’t
My grandmother was a very wise woman when it came to raising kids. And she offered me some very sage advice when I became a single mother: to put my children first in every decision I made. It seems like a very obvious thing that every parent would do but sometimes we don’t.
It’s important to remember what matters and to prioritize it so it doesn’t suffer for things that don’t matter. Your kids are obviously one of those things, but what else matters? Your career might be something that matters, if for no other reason than that it provides for your family. Extended family or friends might also be things that matter.
What doesn’t matter? A single date, being right, or arguing with your ex over unimportant things are just a few things that don’t matter.
But it can also be as simple as ending a relationship because it’s negatively affecting your mental health. Or even simpler than that, with letting dinner dishes sit while you hold a crying child.
Whether it’s big or small, never let the insignificant things cost you the things that are truly important to you.
Lose the mom guilt
Guilt for working. Guilt for not working. Guilt for giving them the sugary cereal or not giving them the cough medicine. Guilt over spending three hours in the kitchen making a healthy dinner instead of playing with them or over going through the drive-thru to get fast food because you’re just too tired to cook tonight.
Moms feel so much guilt over so many things. And guilt is a wasted emotion. You’re a mom and you’re human. You have to make decisions about what you think is best for your family. Some of those decisions will be spot on. Others will be wrong. That’s part of being human.
Whether your decision turns out to be good or bad, whether other people agree with your decisions or not, lose the mom guilt. You’re doing the best you can and you know it, so forget feeling guilty about it.
Make time to recharge daily
When you’re a single mom, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to avoid stress and taking on too much, you’re still going to end up stressed out and taking on too much. That’s why it’s so important that you make time every day to recharge.
You don’t need to take hours every day — though the more time you can take, the better you’ll feel. But if all you can get is 10–15 minutes a day, that’s enough.
And how should you spend this time? That’s up to you. Everyone recharges in different ways. Figure out what helps you feel refreshed, relaxed, energized, soothed, or at peace and do that. Maybe it’s taking a shower or maybe it’s sharing a glass of wine with a friend.
Whatever it is, and whatever time of day you do it, take this little bit of time that’s just for you and savor it.
It’s never too late to (re)define fulfillment
We all want to feel fulfilled. There are many ways we can get that feeling. And the good news is it’s never too late to define, or redefine, what fulfillment is for you.
Maybe raising your children makes you feel fulfilled right now. When they’re grown and gone, however, you can redefine fulfillment and find it in something else.
And let’s not forget that fulfillment is a personal thing, not what everyone else things should make you feel fulfilled. This means if raising your children isn’t where you get your fulfillment, that’s okay. You get to define fulfillment for yourself, whatever that looks like.
Define and redefine fulfillment as often as you need to in order to find the feeling and keep it.
Protect your space
As moms, we get used to having our space invaded. Kids crowd our beds at night, try to sit in our laps as we use the bathroom, and try to become one with us when they’re feeling shy or embarrassed. So it’s easy to stop recognizing when others, who shouldn’t have the same free access to us, start invading our space too.
But protecting your space is important for so many reasons. It’s not just about setting boundaries that others respect. It’s also about avoiding excess stress and tension for yourself because you’re allowing people too much access.
And keep in mind that protecting your space isn’t just about your physical space. It’s also about protecting your mental health, your emotional well-being, and your family. Protect your space from those who would harm it, intentionally or not.
Mindfulness is a heightened state of awareness and specific focus on the present moment. It’s about living in the moment and experiencing your life as it’s happening — the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.
It’s not hard to dwell in the past or try to jump into the future, particularly when the present moment isn’t exactly pleasant. But if you aren’t living in the present moment, you’re not really living. You’re missing out on life as you relive things that can’t be changed or plan for things that may or may not ever come to pass.
This isn’t to say you can’t have goals, plans, and dreams for the future. You can and should have those things. But you need to make sure you spend more time living in the present moment than you do making those goals and plans and fantasizing about those dreams.
There are many ways you can practice mindfulness and they will all enhance your parenting, your relationships, and your life.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. After years of settling for abusive and otherwise toxic relationships, she began using meditation and other tools, to heal herself, set boundaries, and only engage in relationships (romantic and otherwise) that bring her joy. She wants to help other single parents find the love & happiness they seek, including and going beyond romantic love. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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