It’s been a journey, writing weekly blog posts and incorporating what I’m learning into my life. What made this fall extra trying was that our second floor became a full-out renovation zone. My husband disappeared into our upstairs for days on end while I kept the wheels rolling for home life. This meant I had to learn how to make my own free time during 6 months as a single mom.
I’m not saying this to complain. Acting as a solo parent was how I contributed to our renovation. But I can say, holy cow do I have all the respect in the world for single mamas. Massive respect, also, for all you mamas out there who have a partner but carry the lionshare of the house tasks and child rearing. It’s never ending and thankless. You deserve standing ovations every. single. day.
Lessons from 6 months as a single mom
Without further ado, here are the top things that I learned in my “single mama” months as I sought to spend less time on house stuff so that I could squeeze in time for myself.
- Quitting time: 9:30ish became the time when I allowed myself to stop moving for the day and do something for me before bed. It is a boundary that continues to feel important.
- Edge time: If I find I have a few minutes between things, I’ve started chipping away at a chore I know I’ll have to do later. Something as simple as unloading half the dishwasher before work means that I’ll have a faster time getting the kitchen cleaned that night.
- Batch cooking: I’ll say this one a thousand times, I’m sure. Batch cooking on Sundays has saved an hour or more of cooking and cleaning every night of the week.
- Your ONE thing: I decide what the most important task is. The thing that makes everything feel easier or better once it’s done. This helps keep smaller “task” distractions from eating up your time. It also helps me redifine “success” in this crazy life…I wrote a post on it that you can check out here.
- Bedtime schedule: Creating a routine that gets sweet child to bed on time is key. For us, getting dinner on the table by 6 practically guarantees lights out by 7:30. Ah, sweet silence!
- Schedule time to make time: Now that I look for invisible systems in my home that waste time, I see them everywhere. I quickly learned that unless I schedule time to actually make the changes, they don’t happen. If they don’t happen, then I miss out on time that I could be having more fun with my family or doing my own thing.
- Habits are killer: It is super hard to break habits, especially ones that started way before kids. To help stop myself in the middle of something that doesn’t serve a purpose, I’ve started trying to ask “does this serve me?” If the answer is no, it’s easier to drop it and move on.
- Online time: We all know the internet is a rabbit hole. By shifting my internet habits in small ways, I have managed to spend less time online. For instance, I don’t bargain hunt if I’ve found a company I trust and know my way around their website. I have unsubscribed from listservs so there are fewer emails in my inbox. Sometimes I set a timer to limit the time I spend online, including for activities like blogging or facebook. All this keeps me plugged in, but on my own terms.
- Savoring time: Over these last months, I have developed a gratitude for mindset for the time I do have with my husband and daughter. I have choir once a week and instead of Oh crap, I’ve got only seven minutes for dinner! It has shifted to Ah! I have seven minutes to enjoy myself. That simple and genuine shift allows me to be more present and really enjoy myself, even in small bursts.
- The sanity clause: Elbows up, mama! Don’t overbook. Trust your gut. Say no graciously and firmly. Ask your partner to say no or back out of things if the sanity clause means that your relationship will be in a better place or his/her presence will allow you to get more alone time.
- Loving the life I’ve got: This is a perspective on time in the larger sense.You probably get it when I say that I often feel like I need to have, do, and be more in order to feel successful. Having kids puts a huge speed bump in that race…maybe for the better, if I let my heart do the talking. I know I’m going to miss these days. I’m going to want them back. So maybe my rhythm is slower for a while. Maybe I don’t travel much or go out much. Loving this life just as it is right now is the brand of “success” that I’m learning to run with.
There you have it! The quick-hits list of how I’ve learned to save time and appreciate time over the past months – my keys to making free time during 6 months as a single mom. All of these bullets cover (like I said) a very intense time for my family. Renovations, my husband’s band and shows, my choir, full time work, raising a child… it hasn’t been all roses. It’s been messy and beautiful and a journey.
Thank you for the enormous love you give your family <3
The way I see it, if you have time to love yourself, then your children have a real good head start in becoming adults who love their lives. I hope the lessons learned in my “single mom” months can somehow help you shift into a place where you have more space for your own beautiful self care.
In case anyone hasn’t said it yet today, thank you for all you do. Thank you for keeping the wheels on the tracks in your house, day in and day out. Thank you for the massive care and energy you put into your family. This world hums and thrives because of you and all the souls who cook and clean and watch over, making home for us all. Namaste.
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