Being a single mom can be one of the hardest, most rewarding, and stressful, strengthening and amazing experiences ever. To say it is complicated is an understatement. Here are 10 life hacks that will help you run your house more smoothly, be a better mom, and have perfect kids. Well, maybe not that last one, but it was worth a try right?
10. You are not in a relationship with your children. Having a great relationship with your children is great. It is the goal. BUT, when you spend most of your time with your children, you have to give yourself some mommy time, and your kids need time away from you as well. It’s easy to get into a dating run when you are single, but when you also have children it can feel like you are dating your children. After all, they go to the movies with you, they go out to dinner with you, cuddle on the couch with you and watch TV and well, let’s face it, we love our children. Give yourself some time by connecting with other moms, single or married and partner with them for babysitting. Set a schedule and agree to have one or two people partner up to watch all the kids so the rest of you can get some mommy freedom, maybe even take in a date or two.
9. Your children have to grow up sometime. It is so easy to just do everything yourself when you are a single parent. You know how to do it already and if you let the kids do it, they may not do it correctly which will result in you having to do it anyway. Well, I’m here to tell you, allowing your children to learn and make mistakes now, is a lot less stressful than having your grown adult kids living with you and making mistakes. Take the time to teach your children age appropriate responsibilities so that they will become independent adults who will move out and be productive citizens. Then, maybe you can date regularly.
8. Clean up time is for everyone. Children need to learn to be responsible for themselves. A great cleaning hack is baskets. Laundry baskets will do. Saturdays is a great day to catch up on the week’s laundry and cleaning. Hand each kid a basket and have them go around the house and collect things that belong to them. Have them return to their space with their baskets and put things away where they belong. If your house looks anything like mine, that alone encompasses half of your regular cleaning. Let the kids do their part and it will make your part easier.
7. Music makes the world go around. Spend lots of time listening to music and dancing and being silly with your children. Music can be used in lots of ways. You can rock out in the car with your kids and just be as silly as you want to be. They will think you are crazy at first, but those will be the memories that they will hold on to forever. While you are doing your Saturday morning cleaning (see #8), you can blast the radio and make it fun. Try to complete a task by the end of the song, have dance breaks, have a mini lip syncing contest to break up the day’s duties.
6. Share. This seems like it makes sense, but one thing I’ve noticed with my own children is that they feel like I get certain privileges as a mom that they don’t get. One example is soda. I rarely drink soda, but on the occasion that I do, I really go hard and drink lots of caffeine free soda. It’s my vice, and it’s better than drinking beer because, let’s face it, being a single mom makes those margarita drinks look even more delicious. Set aside a time or a day when the kids get to indulge in a soda or candy or whatever it is that they are feeling left out on.
5. Delegate. If you have older kids then they need to take responsibility. Although we pay the bills, our children need to recognize that our homes are just that . . . our homes. Moms, we aren’t maids or servants. It feels like we are when we allow our kids to shirk on their responsibilities. Easy tasks that can be assigned to older children (8+) include: vacuuming, laundry (in my house everyone washes their own clothing), loading/unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, dusting, etc. Don’t feel guilty about having your children put in some work. Think of it as one more way that you are helping them to invest in their future. These tools will take them far in life and when you visit their homes, you will likely enter a clean and tidy place.
4. Throw it away. I know, it’s so enticing to save little Sally’s first shirt from the first field trip from first grade. Take a picture. Then throw the crap away. If you save every single item from your child’s milestones, you will soon end up with a shrine of junk. I’m all for saving going home from the hospital outfits, first hair braid, first tooth, etc. But keep the memorabilia to a minimum. The memories are what you should cherish, not the items. Talk about the memories periodically to keep them fresh, but don’t get so caught up in the past that you end up as one of those weirdo grandmas who have a room dedicated to when your kids were little. You know, the ones who always have to pull the grandkids into a “when your daddy was 4” stories. Save yourself now from becoming that person.
3. Get out of the house. So, I know that raising kids on your own can be expensive. This is especially true if you have more than one child. A simple trip to the movies can feel like you just gutted your bank account. I get it. But you have to get out. Take advantage of free festivals, the park, exploring your own neighborhood, anything to get a change of scenery. Kids get bored looking at the same four walls every day. They begin to act out because they are bored and need stimulation. If you can squeeze it in, get season passes to the local theme park or a membership to the museum so that when you don’t have the money, you can still take advantage of these fun trips.
2. Don’t forget, you are the mom. When it’s you against the kids, it’s easy to slip into the place where you find yourself going back and forth with your kids over the most random things. Example: You tell little Billy to turn off the video game, he responds with “but Sally is still watching TV”, you respond with the fact that he is suppose to be doing his laundry. This can get downright ugly and if we aren’t careful, our kids will knock us right down to the elementary school level and we will exhaust ourselves by trying to convince our kids to do what we say. Never forget that you are the adult. If you need help with parenting, start with the internet and find tools to help you figure it out. Go to the library and check out books to help you handle your job as a mom, but never ever forget that you are the mom. The kids should respect and honor you as such.
1. Have fun. While being a single mom can be extremely stressful, you have to enjoy it. Sure, life would be great if the kids were perfect and if you were winning at work, your mental health was that of a happily married person with 2.5 kids and a picket fence, raking in ungodly amounts of income. But the reality is that isn’t your life. Have fun with the life that you have. Don’t be afraid to let go and laugh a little. Watch comedy shows, cartoons, and silly videos online to keep your spirits up. Laughing is like a magic cure to lift your mood almost instantly.
Implementing these 10 life hacks will surely make your life as a single mom better. Over time you will find more time freedom, better relationships with your children, a tidier home, and a better feeling of self worth. Being a single mom is a rock star job and not everyone can do it. Consider yourself amazing for being able to do it and keep the kids sane, safe, fed and clothed. That’s amazing all by itself. Becoming a better mom now will likely help your children to become even better parents when they grow up and start having children of their own. Build the best memories with them now so that when they look back on their childhood, they aren’t left wishing they had a different upbringing. It’s our job as single moms to give our children the best possible lives and showing them how to live it.