SIMPLE STRESS RELIEF ROUTINES FOR SINGLE MOMS
As a single mom, I know stress. Well.
In the last four years that I’ve been parenting on my own, I’ve learned the importance of caring for myself first so that I can properly care for my children.
I’ve tried many stress relief routines, some have worked, some not so much.
When I became a single mom three years ago, I felt completely out of my element. Even though I had been a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom for nearly 20 years, I was suddenly without a partner to tag-team the parenting load with.
It took some time to embrace my new normal and create a groove that worked best for my children and work schedule. There was a LOT of trial and error in my journey to create the most stress-free life as a single parent.
Some days, I felt like a complete and utter failure as a mom. Mom guilt to the max. I also learned that this guilt is not only normal but can be alleviated with a lot of practice and the acceptance that no person (including single moms) will ever be perfect. As single parents, we’re all dealing with a challenging set of circumstances, and have limited resources to boot. It’s amazing that we ever have the strength to do any of it, much less do it all.
Today, I want to share three stress relief routines for single moms that have helped me keep my sanity as I navigate the world of single motherhood. My hope is that these may help you, too.
1. BUILD A SUPPORT SYSTEM
I cannot stress the importance of building a support system enough. Walking through single parenting alone can be a dark, scary place, not to mention incredibly lonely (and stressful, which is what we’re trying to avoid here). It’s also impossible to manage a load of parenting, appointments, work deadlines, and ALL THE THINGS expected of you completely alone. Asking for help can be hard at first, but don’t feel one ounce of guilt about it (remember, we’re kicking that mom guilt to the curb).
Now, you may be asking yourself, “What if I don’t have a support system? I don’t have family or close friends nearby… and I don’t know where to find help.”
I get it. I was in a similar place due to my divorce. Many of my friends were also friends with my ex-husband, which made it very difficult for them to “pick sides” — and I don’t blame them at all for that. It did require re-finding “my people” who would be there for me and re-building “my village.” I also didn’t have family that was in the position to help, so that resource was out, too.
So, I started immersing myself in local Facebook mom groups, spending more time with my local friends (the few I had) that were genuinely supportive, and simply meeting new people. I’m still in this phase of building my support system, as it’s one that takes time to build.
Additional places to find positive support systems are local churches, mom group meet-ups, and school events.
02. CREATE A PRACTICAL DAILY ROUTINE
Daily routines have been the hardest for me to implement and stick to, but when I do, my stress and anxiety significantly go down. And when our stress goes down, our children’s stress goes down, too.
I like to call my daily routine a “practical daily routine” because that’s exactly what it is: practical. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about packing in 100 tasks into each day.
Rather, it’s a flow that works best for my family, circumstances, and resources. Every single mom will have a different daily routine because each family is unique. The common goal is the same, though, and that is to be intentional with our time.
Here are some simple daily routines that I have implemented to reduce stress:
Stick to a family sleep schedule. I know a sleep schedule can be tricky during the summer months off from school, but some sense of a sleep schedule will help your overall health (and stress) as well as your children’s health.
Prep meals. I know the initial idea of prepping meals seems overwhelming, but if you look at it as a gift to yourself for a stress-free week, it lifts some of that overwhelm. My kids and I work together to prep meals and snacks right after we grocery shop. That way, our time is utilized more efficiently because we have to put away those groceries anyway.
Get the kids involved. I give each kid a job to handle so that I’m getting some extra help, too. If your kids are old enough, I recommend getting them involved, as it’s also a great opportunity to spend time with them while they’re learning valuable life skills in the process. Oh, and don’t forget to prep the coffee or tea maker the night before, too, because we need that precious fuel to tackle each day!
Prep outfits. I have to be honest here — laundry is the bane of my existence. It’s my least favorite task, by far, even with my kids being old enough to do their own. Nonetheless, it has to be done, so I use this not-so-fun task to be my outfit prep task as well. Again, the goal is always to be intentional with my time, so killing two birds with one stone provides me with more motivation to complete the task.
If your kids are old enough to prep outfits for the week, encourage them to do so. If they’re not quite there yet, you can do it for them when folding clean laundry and then laying the outfits out, so mornings aren’t so stressful. Do the same for yourself, too, especially if you have an important work meeting or event that you need to fancy up a bit for.
Outfit prep works for exercise wear, as well. I have some friends who sleep in their workout clothes so that they’re ready to head to the gym the next morning, which I think is genius!
Remove all guilt if you don’t follow your “plan” for the day. Trust me, there will be many obstacles and unplanned life events that will pop up which can throw our daily routines off. That’s okay. Tomorrow will always be a new day (or next week will always be a new week).
3. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Now, before you say, “there isn’t any time left for me,” I want you to know that you absolutely must create time for yourself. With the amount of responsibility we have on our plates as single moms, there is no way we can do any of it stress-free without refueling or participating in activities outside of motherhood and work.
Take a second to think about moments in the day when you have quiet time. Maybe that’s in the school pickup line (to listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook), in the morning before the kids wake up (to sip on coffee or tea while reading an awesome book or magazine), or during nap-time (to take a nap yourself or soak in a bubble bath with candles).
Then, think about bigger spaces of “you time” that can be carved out with the use of a babysitter, playdate, or your children’s time with your co-parent. Dinner and a movie with friends, a walk through a beautiful park, or better yet, an overnight stay at a local hotel can do wonders for your wellbeing. Remembering your self-identity will make you a better parent and role model for your children.
Being a single mom isn’t always easy, but with the right tools and support, we can live amazing, fulfilling lives. And guess what? We all deserve that kind of life! Now, treat yourself.
Founder of Mom Spark – a lifestyle blog for moms.