If you’re a single parent, then you know firsthand how hard it is to find time to work, clean, cook, and play with your kids. It’s an uphill battle, and sometimes one of these gets the brunt end of the stick.
There’s hardly a time when the house is clean, the kids are clean, all the bills are paid, and the kids are getting sufficient quality time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not you’re fault, and you’re not alone.
Parenting is hard enough without having to do it on your own. Single parents often don’t have enough time to take care of everything they need to, much less have fun and enjoy their day.
It’s truly walking a fine line. To keep your sanity, you either have excellent time management skills, or you just throw in the towel and accept what it is. Either way, do what works for your family and whatever keeps you sane and happy.
How Can You Simplify Your Life As a Single Parent?
As I mentioned before, it’s a fine line between a strict schedule and just throwing in the towel. But, there are still things you can do to make your life just a bit easier. A little bit here and there adds up.
- Use the Dishwasher. I grew up in a family where dishes were done by hand, and our dishwasher was just the drying rack. It wasn’t until my best friend moved into my apartment that I even thought about using the dishwasher the way it’s supposed to be used.
- Let Your Kids Help You. This is for new parents or parents of toddlers. When my son was a baby, he always wanted to help me, but I struggled with anxiety. It had to be perfect, and so he didn’t want to help. When I calmed down, I let them help, and now they even OFFER to clean. I rarely have to ask them, and when I do, they’re fighting over who gets to sweep or mop.
- Plan your day but forgive yourself if it falls through. Life will never be perfect and go exactly how you want it. I have 5 planners for the day, week, month, and down to the hour. It NEVER pans out the way I want, but I can refer back to it and finish what I can.
- Ask for help. I know it’s easier said than done but ask for help, even if just for an hour. It takes a village to raise children. Just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. I’m lucky enough (privileged, I know) to have my parents watch my kids so that I can write in peace for a bit.
- TAKE A NAP. I know, I know! You have so much to do and so little time. But how well will you finish your responsibilities if you’re exhausted? Give into your needs for 30 minutes and get back to it. You can’t do anything if your fuel tank is empty.
Finding Time for Your Kids as a Single Parent
You’re juggling work, cleaning, and your kid’s wellbeing on your own, and it’s a huge responsibility. Whether you’re working two jobs (Check out FREELANCING) and barely making ends meet. Trust me, my kids relish in the 10-30 minutes I give them of 1-on-1 time.
Even if it’s not actually playing dolls or Minecraft with them. Here are some sneaky ways to bond with your kids, even on a time crunch.
- Let them help (again). If you’re cooking or doing the dishes, let them stir the ingredients or put them in the pot. Let your kids help you load the (plastic) dishes in the dishwasher. They learn responsibility, and they get to spend time with their favorite person, YOU.
- Dance in the kitchen. I’ve mentioned this in another post 10 Things to do Daily to be Happy that I love to DANCE. Moving your body boosts your mood, especially if you’re doing a jiggy with your mini. While cooking breakfast and waiting to flip your flapjacks, dance around, and make silly moves.
- Make cleaning fun! When I was a child, my mom made cleaning fun by making it into a race. This trick worked on me until I was around 15 years old because of the ‘prizes’ I could get if I won. So we turn up the music and clean up as fast as we can. It saves time, and we have fun!
- Have designated fun days. It’s not an all-day thing, and it’s definitely not an expensive activity. I play into what they like. But since the pandemic started, we started a monthly family movie night. Or I buy cheap paint from Ross and some canvases from the Dollar Tree, and we paint a pretty picture following some Youtube art videos for kids.
- Play a quick game. My kids are young, so there are endless ways to entertain them, but I remember I still loved to spend time with my mom even as a teen. Telling jokes and playing Loteria. Now, my kids love to play games. We pull small pranks, play hide and seek, tag, and charades.
It doesn’t have to take all day, but kids do want to spend time with you. I use a timer, and my kids know that mommy is done for the day when the timer goes off. Playing with my kids for a bit also tends to get them out of my hair. They got their time, and now they are happily playing by themselves.
When Will I Get Alone Time as Single Parents?
Even if you’re not single, or if you’re a mom in general, then we know that kids follow us everywhere. Good luck getting away for more than 10 minutes without them knocking on the door.
So when will we get alone time as a single parent, and how can we enjoy it?
- OUTSMART YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. Look, we’re probably never going to be rid of our kids. And trust me, I’ll be the first to say that Grocery shopping alone shouldn’t count as a “break.” But you can definitely make it one. In a Tiktok video once, I saw that a mom said that she orders grocery pick-up and then uses the extra time to do what she wants.
- Use a Sitter/daycare. Look, I know that this is my privilege, and not many single parents can afford a sitter or have a family to help. But use it and use it smartly. If there isn’t any considerable responsibility, you need to take care of, go get your nails done or a haircut.
- Stay up late. But not too late because you probably have work in the morning. Watch a scary movie or a movie with naughty scenes (wink-wink). Play a bit.
Your life shouldn’t just be about being a parent. You’re allowed to have a break and to enjoy the time without your kids. I know that you love your kids, but you’re more than just a mom or a dad. You’re you, and you have passions and hobbies you want to do, places you want to go, and things you want to see.
And just because you created a couple of crotch goblins doesn’t mean that you sacrifice your sanity to cater to them all hours of the day.
If you want more help from other moms in your shoes who understand where you are, join my Facebook group – THE MENTAL MOM. It’s specifically for mothers that struggle with their mental health. It could be Depression and Anxiety or more severe illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar, or Schizophrenia. You’re all welcome here.