How do you cope when you’re a single mum? Do I cope? Well I get by… And we’ve made it this far relatively unscathed. Does that count? 🙂
I do cope. I just….. do.
Somehow I keep finding the strength inside of me to wake up and kick ass!
Am i saying that I have my life together and it’s all smooth sailing – HELL NO! Have you read my post about getting my ass kicked by my kid on one particularly, em, challenging day!?
I am far from it having it all figured out. But what I do try to do, no matter how much i feel like I’m struggling, is remind myself of how lucky i am that I’ve been given the chance to have a child. Not every one gets it. For a long time I didn’t think I’d get it.
Yet, here we are. And honestly as hard as it is, it’s the best thing that ever happened and I remind myself of that when I need too.
In saying that, along the way (so far) I have found a few coping strategies that work for me.
Believe in yourself
Have faith that you were dealt this hand because you are capable of handling it. Some single parents become ‘single parents’ through choice, some are given no choice and just have to accept it – whether that was because their partner left (or like mine they ‘changed their mind’ about having a child once it was already in there!) or god forbid they passed away… However you ended up here, believe that you can do it. You will find the strength that you never knew was in you.
Believe that you are capable of being a great mum, wake up, show up and never give up. (ooooh I like that one!)
Don’t take your anger out on the kids
As hard as it is sometimes (and oh my god it’s hard sometimes!), try not to take your anger out on the kids. It’s so so so hard I know. They know exactly how to push your buttons and they will test you and push you to your absolute limits. But don’t lose your cool. Go to the bathroom, to the front door, anywhere in the house you can get a few minutes to breath and calm down..
I saw this idea a few weeks ago and I think it’s great and definitely worth giving a go….. The 5 Hair Ties Trick
Write things down.
The one way I’ve learned to ‘switch my brain off’ is to write things down. Which is actually how this blog came about in the first place.
“Oh, I have to do that tomorrow.” “Oh, I needed to pick that up from the shop.” “Oh, I had to phone the doctor”…..
The kind of things I tend to remember right as I’m about to fall asleep! That and over-thinking EVERYTHING.
Like I said earlier, as mums, our brains never really switch off. There’s always a million things we’re thinking about, trying to remember, scenarios we’re replaying over and over in our mind,
So my advice, is keep a note pad (or your phone) next to you, especially next to your bed, so you can jot it down then you don’t have to worry about remembering it. Getting it out of your head and onto paper makes the biggest difference, trust me on this because I am the biggest over-thinker you’ll ever meet!
Now my 2 1/2 year old baby brain can relax! (How long can you really get away with blaming baby brain…. I’m going for as long as I can!)
Make time for you
The dishes can wait. The washing can wait. Everything else can wait. Stop putting yourself and your own well-being last on the list.
As soon as you get time alone, whether its bedtime, naptime…. Use that time to take care of yourself.
Slap on a face mask and have a bath – take a shower – freshen up – change into clean clothes – eat a nutritious meal – if you have the energy, do some yoga -watch your own TV programmes instead of Paw Patrol on repeat….
I know some kids are bad sleepers and I know it’s particularly hard when they’re newborns. But if you get a chance through the day, even if its just 30 minutes while baby’s napping – SLEEP! Oh god please sleep. If you’re not tired then just rest – grab a coffee and a book and switch off for 30 minutes.
Baby doesn’t care if the house is clean. Sleep when you can. Then rest and relax when you can.
Do whatever you can to reboot, clear your head and freshen up. Half an hour can sometimes make all the difference so leave the washing and the ironing and take the time for yourself. Take care of you.
- Meal Plan: Every Sunday I take half an hour to meal plan for the week and order the shopping online. This means I know what we’re eating each day, I know what food I need to make sure is in the house. Turn a slow cooker into your new best friend – throw the ingredients in it in the morning and at tea time (when you’re exhausted) all you need to do is serve it. Cook meals in one go (I do it on Sundays) and freeze them in tubs so all you have to do on bad, exhausted days is take them out of the freezer and heat them up.
- Make a cleaning schedule: Ok, I know this is bringing out the real geek in me now. But having a simple cleaning schedule breaks down all the housework you need to do for the week into tiny chunks that take 5-60 minutes a day. It much easier than trying to clean 2 or 3 rooms or cram 10 chores into one day. Write to-do lists in order of whats most important and score them off as you do it. Here’s a great cleaning schedule as an example.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else
No mum, single or not, has it all together all the time.
They might seem like they do (social media is a great platform for portraying images of the ‘perfect instamum’ that makes you feel like you pale in comparison).
“Why I can’t I be like that Mum?”
But a single Instagram pic or a single facebook post doesn’t always tell the real story.
That other single mum at nursery might seem like she has it all together, but she might just be putting on a brave face after a hellish day with her 2 year old constantly playing up, making her feel like she cant cope, but she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s struggling.
That mum with the well-behaved toddler in Tesco, she might have had to bribe him with a new toy at the end of the shop in order to get him to behave!
I used to try and keep up with my other mum friends. Buy the same things, go to the same places, do all the same mum and baby activities. But I had to accept that as a single mum I don’t have the budget, the energy, or the support from ‘daddy’ to keep up with anyone else. I had to do what was right for Aiden and I and if that meant ‘falling behind’ then so be it. My friends went going to judge me and most importantly, neither was Aiden.
Forget about every one else and just focus on you and your child. What works for you both. I bet you’re doing better than you think you are.
There’s No Such Thing As a Perfect Mum
The ‘perfect’ mum doesn’t exist. The ‘got it all together’ mum doesn’t exist. The ‘never tired’ mum doesn’t exist. The ‘I cope with every toddler tantrum and meltdown like Mary Poppins’ mum doesn’t exist.
Instead of striving to be the ‘perfect’ mum, strive towards being the best mum you can be for your child. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
Don’t focus on what you’re doing wrong or what went wrong yesterday. Look at all the achievements no matter how small (we made it to the shop and back without any drama. We made it through a whole day without anything getting broken. We got a whole nights sleep. Mummy didn’t lose her shit once today, instead she took a few deep breaths and let it go. We laughed so hard together today).
Focus on the fun moments you share together, the proud mummy moments you feel. Not that one epic meltdown which left you both sitting on the sofa in tears.
You deserve to be happy’. We all deserve to be happy. No matter how bad the day was, or even how bad a phase you’ve been having for the last 2 months. Remember, you are loved. That little person asleep upstairs who thinks you’re the best mum in the world, they love you with all their heart and a childs love is unconditional.
So, How Do You Cope When You’re a Single Mum?
By slowing down and taking each day as it comes. By accepting it for what it is and waking up each day ready to fight again.
Ask for help, believe you can do it, find coping strategies that work for you.
Don’t over think and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time.
Above all else remember why you’re doing this. You’re doing it for the little person you made who just happens to think the world of you no matter what your circumstances, no matter what mistakes you make along the way.
Make sure to catch part one of this article here
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