We single moms don’t have it easy. For many of us, 100% of the burden of childcare, financial support and house work fall on our shoulders. Given these circumstances, it’s no wonder that so many single moms are perpetually stressed out.
Although I am a single, young mom to a high-need toddler, I rarely feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities. Occasional mommy-tantrums aside, I believe that I handle my stress-load fairly well. If you are an overstressed single mom, these tips can help you to manage your situation– and bring the joy back into parenthood.
1. Make your child a part of your life. Many single moms believe that it’s best to completely separate their children from their “grown-up” lives. In my experience, this doesn’t really work. It creates a dichotomy between who you are as a mom and who you are as an independent adult, and that’s bound to create stress and resentment. There are plenty of fun things you can do with your child. Instead of dragging your feet through a kiddie-day at the library or forcing your toddler to endure a wine-tasting party, select recreational occasions that are mutually enjoyable– such a trip to the zoo, museum or aquarium.
2. Don’t forget your old interests. Before you had kids, what did you do in your spare time? Did you like to paint? Listen to music? Go to movies? There’s no reason that you have to surrender these hobbies. If you used to enjoy crafts, give your preschooler a project to complete while you work on a grown-up activity. If you like rock music, turn up the radio and dance in your living room– there’s no reason your kids can’t join in. By maintaining your old hobbies, you reduce the stresses related to single parenthood.
3. Pamper yourself. The kids are in bed and the day’s work is done. Time to do laundry and dishes, right? Wrong. Take the time to spoil yourself– as a single mom, you deserve it! Have a glass of wine while you take a bath and chat on the phone with a friend. Watch that movie you used to enjoy when you were in high school. See what your friends have posted on Twitter. Unless your house is an abominable wreck, there’s no reason that mopping the floor can’t wait another day. Make de-stressing a priority; cut yourself some slack.
4. Do something silly. It’s a difficult day– You toddler is whining, your preteen is complaining, and you think that the baby may have an ear infection. Instead of sticking your head in the oven, do something absolutely batty. Announce, “Smile if you farted!” and watch your kids struggle not to grin. Download “Macarena” and teach your kids how to dance like it’s 1995. Magically transform into the Tickle Monster of Doom, and chase your children around the house. Sure, it’s silly, but it’s a perfect way to relieve stress for all of you. You and your kids all deserve to lighten up a bit.
5. Take a time out. When all else fails, and you absolutely, positively can not tolerate another moment with your children, it’s time for a time-out– for you. If your toddler has been screaming for two hours because you can’t find his train pajamas, and you are on the verge of banging your head (or his!) against a wall, give yourself a break. If your kids are safe, step out of the room. Slowly inhale while counting to ten, then exhale just as slowly. Give yourself five minutes to re-collect your sanity before returning to your mommy-duties. A five-minute absence won’t hurt your kids as much as seeing you lose your cool.