As a single mom, I know how hard it is to make time for yourself. Although it gets a little easier as kids get older, it’s never easy. And even when we find the time, overcoming mother guilt can be difficult. That’s why I’ve put together this list of 10 easy ways to take care of yourself.
This list was designed for the mom who doesn’t have a backup. But it can be used by any mom, and even by dads, single or married. The key to this list is that you don’t need a caretaker, and you don’t even need to be alone.
Check them out and choose your favourites. Or take my top tips and incorporate them all into your life. I promise it’s worth it.
Take a Deep Breath (or five!)
Stress makes us breathe much less deeply and quickly. And what single mom isn’t stressed all the time? But your breath has an impact on everything else. By simply changing the way you breathe, you can change your mood, calm yourself down, and even fall asleep more easily.
So take a deep breath. Do it now. Take a full breath, let your stomach rise, feel your chest rise. Breathe deeper than you have ever breathed in your life. Then let it out slowly. Exhale slowly as this signals your body that everything is fine and it can relax.
Do this once, do this twice, do this for five whole minutes at a time. Do it daily or do it several times a day. But make sure you do. This is the fastest and easiest way to change everything.
Take a Walk in the Evening
Children and parents feel stressed, tense and wired at the end of the day. An evening walk before or after dinner can help burn off that excess energy and calm everyone down for the night.
If you want to make it a brisk walk, that’s up to you. But a simple, slow walk can be a nice way to pass a few minutes.
Take in the fresh air (combine it with your deep breathing from above for real relief!). Watch the sun begin to set. Make waves and chat with the neighbors. Stop and watch a caterpillar crawl along the sidewalk or the treetops ripple in the wind.
Listen to the chirping of crickets, the chirping of birds and the sounds of traffic. Relax and enjoy the feeling of walking without a destination.
Turn Off Devices When you Get Home
With cell phones, tablets, and laptops, everyone is expected to be available anytime, anywhere. Living up to that expectation can be exhausting. As a single mom, the only people you absolutely need to be available all the time are your children.
So turn off the devices when you get home. Shut off the outside world and focus on yourself and your children.
Work can wait until tomorrow. Friends and family can leave messages – or call your landline (assuming you still have one). Enjoy the chance to take a break from everything else.
Invite Your Friends and Family over for Dinner
Too often, single moms are invited to activities they can’t attend: girls’ nights, work events, even dates. But even though we have to decline many invitations, that doesn’t mean we can’t send some ourselves.
Invite your friends and family over for dinner once in a while. Enjoy casual conversation and loving support from those who know you best. Let their children play with your children. Enjoy the laughs and good food from the comfort of your own home.
Do a Brain Dump Every Night
You can do this as soon as you get home or wait until just before you go to bed. A daily brain dump of all the remaining tasks and thoughts of the day gets them out of your head, allowing you to sleep better.
It’s as simple as grabbing some paper and a pen and writing down whatever you think. Don’t worry about neatness, spelling or grammar. Just go out.
You can go back to your brain dump in the morning to see if there is anything useful that you need to address that day. Many times, though, you’ll find that all the things that worried and gnawed at you the night before weren’t a big deal.
Having Tea with the Children
Tea is often comforting and soothing for most of us. What better way to unwind than enjoying a nice cuppa with your kids? Lavender, fennel and chamomile are good teas for relaxing.
If your kids aren’t big fans, peppermint teas can be a tasty, mind-changing choice.
If the kids really don’t like tea, you can always have a cup of it while they have milk, juice, or another small treat. Take advantage of the time sipping your tea to discuss school, friends and other things with the children.
Bonding and connecting with children can be a great form of self-care. This will help you take a step back when they frustrate you later.
Create a Simple and Easy Meal Plan
We all want to feed our families with healthy and delicious meals. But as a single parent, your time is limited. Your money and ingredient choices may also be limited. So take it easy and create a meal plan that includes foods that are simple and easy as well as healthy and delicious.
Think salads, sandwiches, and quick or hands-off meals. Don’t reinvent the wheel either. Create a list of 15-30 meals (breakfasts, lunches, and dinners) and rotate them throughout the month.
Don’t forget to cook breakfast for dinner once in a while and pack some extra food to have leftovers for a super simple dinner another night.
Do a Puzzle or Word Search
Keeping your brain active is a vital part of self-care. Much of our time ends up being spent on autopilot. Take the time to do a puzzle, word search or crossword, or try a sudoku.
You can buy books with these puzzles or download an app to your phone. If you have a large puzzle that requires your table to be assembled as well as a lot of time, use a piece of plywood under the puzzle so you can move it around mealtimes.
Take Care of Yourself after the Kids go to Bed
Self-care isn’t always a forgiving thing, but why not do some of it anyway? Once you’ve put the kids to bed, take a bubble bath. Give yourself a manicure, put on a face mask, or give yourself a massage by rubbing in body oil or lotion.
Take care of yourself while you sleep too. Get a good sleep mask that blocks out all light, and use a white noise machine to drown out any other noise that might keep you awake.
Get soft, comfortable sheets and silky pajamas. Buy a quality pillow so you can sleep comfortably every night.
Self-care isn’t always about spending time alone and doing “fluffy” things. Sometimes self-care is about making life a little easier for yourself, bonding more with your kids, or getting a good night’s sleep.
Stop telling yourself that you don’t have the time or the money to invest in self-care. You do – you just need to be a bit more creative about it.