It is possible to keep one’s sanity and sense of humor, yet still be a single mom in the workforce. The trick is to be extra organized and do as much as possible when the kids are with dad. It is challenging stepping back into a career when being a stay-at-home mom, or changing to full-time. These life hacks make YOUR life a bit easier.
1. Work more during when the kids are visiting Dad. I went to my father’s every other weekend and my nurse mother worked at a hospital during that time. She also picked up extra shifts for the two weeks that I was on vacation with my father and at camp.
Another single mom worked 8-3 without a formal lunch break. She then went into the office for five hours every Saturday while the kids were at visitation. Since the office was closed, it was peaceful enabling her to get ahead with work. See if you can build flexibility into your job.
2. Make a huge quantity of lasagne or other dishes and freeze single portions (your work lunches) and family sized ones. When you are tired – reheat with a prepared salad. Do a cooking marathon when the kids are at visitation. I buy organic, and prepare yummy meals to give to hungry kids in a hurry. My sons like Trader Joe’s pot pies and their frozen meat which is quick to cook.
3. Team up with other single moms to have potlucks or share some tasks. Three single moms I know decided to rotate cooking evening meals, each doing one night a week. One cooks enough for the other two families and packs up the complete meals into containers. They are delivered to those houses nearby and for the next two evenings, that mom is off the hook for providing dinner. These three have been successfully doing this arrangement for years and treasure those blissful cooking-free nights.
4. Nurture yourself. If you are frazzled, then you are less able to give your full attention to the kids. Pop in for a pedicure or an occasional facial. Indulge in high end, but low cost organic plant based skin care, such as Boot’s Botanics line. My skin feels heavenly. Sitting on the couch reading a magazine with a cat on my lap is so relaxing. Do what rejuvenates you.
5. Talk to your kids and assign chores. Even young ones understand that it is a group effort in maintaining a house. I would ask my sons, “Do you want a mean mommy or a nice one?” They opted for the nice one, so picked up toys and did simple tasks willingly. The mean mommy appeared when I was overwhelmed with too many chores and too little cooperation.
6. Reach out for help when juggling commitments is not working. We have too many balls in the air with child care, jobs and stress. Grandparents can occasionally pick up the kids at school and feed them dinner. My mother did this and I had time to finish a few things before I fetched them later. Godparents can take youngsters to a weekend matinee. Trade babysitting with pals.
7. If you are working late hours and are chronically stressed, consider job sharing or going to part-time, if financially feasible. Maybe changing jobs or moving to a different department can get you out at a decent hour. Several nurses left a busy intensive care unit and switched to clinic jobs that had no weekends, holidays or overtime. If you are going back to school, see if some courses can be done online.
8. Schedule a weekly pizza and movie night at home. Not running around or cooking enables one to relax with the kids.
9. Scrutinize your schedule to discover time and energy wasters. If you do not have time or the interest for a club or activity, then drop it. Volunteer for what you realistically can do – make homemade goodies for the school bake sale – but say no to running it for three hours. If you have a weekly get together with your sister, maybe make it bi-weekly. See if you can change routines to a little less often and let people know you do not have as much time now.
10. It may be worthwhile to pay someone for time consuming jobs to free up your schedule. Hire a cleaner, if only occasionally or the teen next door to mow your lawn. A new trend with some pre-schools and businesses is to offer services for busy parents. This can include dropping off clothes for dry cleaning and picking up the evening meal. Take advantage of short cuts to create more balance and enjoyment in your life.