As a single parent, we learn the old ways of doing “life” no longer work; we have to modify our BUDGET as it relates to money, time and energy. Where before we shared responsibilities and duties, NOW we become mother, father, cook, taxi driver, bargain shopper and baby sitter.
We sometimes don’t get to greet ourselves until our children are asleep, and even then we are too tired to notice who we are when we look in the mirror. So what do we do?
How do we find time for ourselves – our relationship to US. You know the drill. The airlines use it…”Ladies and gentlemen, please place the mask over your mouth first and then on your children”. It’s the same old thing for us now. Until we take care of our needs, we’re no good to anyone else. If mommy and daddy aren’t happy….no one’s happy.
So first we need to find the time for ourselves within our time management budget. Then, we need to know the shortcuts in our time allotment – for the essentials, for shopping for helping with homework, and for schlepping to sports events and piano recitals.
I’m a big believer in the Buddy System – so anyone on our single parenting ship (be sure it’s not the Titanic) can be our buddy as far as a “baby sitting club” (taking turns so everyone has a life) and co-op shopping (buying large and splitting the tenders) and just plain emotional support.
This helps us keep going and adds to our time management budget. It’s like having a life jacket in the shark infested post-divorce murky waters. We need the support. And, we deserve it after what we have been through!
So pat yourself on the back and know you are not alone. Sometimes being creative is all it takes.
It becomes a formula of imaging the end result and then moving backward into the steps that get us there. It’s in the creative thinking and the addition of supportive groups (or a buddy system) that we find peace and a piece of our single parent sanity.
Just knowing we are not alone and that others have walked this journey before us – leaving bread crumbs for us to follow makes us feel safe and secure in the knowing we can survive and prosper as a single parent!
Time management seems to be the most important element in a single parent household (or any household for that matter). As single parents, it seems we never have enough time in the day to do ALL we need to do for ourselves and for our family.
Time is a commodity, and we have to learn to use it wisely. The good news is we can learn to budget our time just as we budget our finances. It’s time to get organized! Here are some tips to help manage your busy single parent world, and create a sense of organization in your life.
Watch your life evolve as you departmentalize and add more structure to bring together your days. It may amaze you that you actually CAN create some time just for you…
So, here we are – grab your mental marker….
Make lists, don’t rely on your mind (or what’s left of it) to remember what things need to be done and when. Whatever you haven’t gotten accomplished today, move it over to tomorrow’s list. There is always manana, but place the urgent and the most challenging to do’s on the top of tomorrow’s list.
Pay bills all at one time and put a little yellow sticky memo on the piles that need to be mailed mid-month or at the end of month. This way you only have to get stressed out one day a month and your bills get mailed out on time.
Get an engagement calendar for play dates or custody arrangements, due dates for homework, meetings, bills, personal and school events. Take the pressure off your memory skills and keep track of events and appointments on paper. This way you can keep your mind freed up from the strain of having to remember everything you’re juggling. A side benefit is that you’ll discover excess energy and a more focused attention span.
Read at least 10 minutes a night to unwind. If your child is old enough, you can designate a 10 or 15 minute reading time, where you both read your separate books together. And, why not make it a cozy time by snuggling with your child while you read together!
Remember not to cling to worn out ways of scheduling your time if they no longer work for you. As we evolve and our lifestyle changes, we have to modify the way we spend our time doing errands, housework, bill paying, scheduling appointments and making the most of every hour in the day. Why not speak to other single parents, or people you admire, to find out what has worked for them in the realm of budgeting time?
We are their role models, teaching them by example – so be a great example. Prioritize, replenish yourself and think smart….it all begins with you!