Single mums face many challenges in their lives, but there are things that we all need to organise to stay sane. So here are five organising tips for single mums to help you sort your life and start enjoying being a single mother.
Have you ever noticed that those people, who are the busiest, seem to be able to schedule spare time at short notice or fit in an extra task? The paradox of “If you want it done, give it to a busy person!” is baffling and, more often than not, true. Well, I don’t know anyone busier than a single Mama. Honestly, the amount of things they juggle is astounding.
The average Mama (not that there is anything average about her) is a chef, a nurse, a cleaner, a chauffeur, a referee, a life coach, a teacher, an event planner, a personal stylist, a chief financial officer, a personal assistant, an investigator, a negotiator, a sleep coach, a psychic, a travel agent, a translator, a personal trainer, a cheerleader, a handywoman, a beautician, a bargain hunter, a dental hygienist, a love coach, a counsellor, an entertainer, a singer, a swim instructor, a dog walker. Santa’s assistant, a project manager, an OH&S officer, a laundress, a pest controller, a law enforcer, a potion maker, a bodyguard, plus many other roles I’m sure I have forgotten.
So how do some make it look like a walk in the park. While others put their laundry in the oven? Is it that some Mamas are ‘naturally’ better at this than others? Is there a magic wand they wield while no one is looking? Are some just not good enough?
Rubbish! All Mamas are capable, strong, and intelligent enough to smash the above and more. The difference is in mindset and organisation.
Where to start?
To begin with, you need to put in the extra effort to get organised and stay organised, reducing stress and overwhelming you. It will make you feel more accomplished and in control, even on the days when your mind is not in it. Secondly, you need to invest in yourself, your self-worth, and your perception of yourself.
No, it’s not a quick, ‘blink, and you’re there’ solution, especially in the early days of being single. It is worth it, however. The time you invest in yourself will pay back tenfold, not only in the changes you will see in yourself but in your beautiful children, who continuously learn best from what they see and not what they are told.
So, to get you started, here are six simple steps to start your journey. Pave your way. You are enough!
Conquer the busy mindset.
As a single mum, you have a lot going on at once. You are juggling work, family, friends, social activities, and more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs doing, especially when trying to juggle it all at once.
Over time, you’ve likely developed a busy mindset. You feel like you are never able to find the time to do everything that you want to do. As a result, you constantly feel like there is no time for yourself, making you feel even busier.
Another challenge in the parent game is managing the constant stream of thoughts and emotions of raising young ones. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness and forget to take a moment to pause and breathe.
The key to conquering this busy mindset is to devote time each day to clearing your head and overcoming the constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Take a step back, and ask yourself: What am I supposed to be doing now? What can I do to accomplish that better? Tackle one thing at a time. Once you’ve figured out what needs to be done, you can start planning how to get it done.
Declutter your home.
It may not be that big of a deal if there’s occasionally a small amount of clutter around you. However, clutter is a symptom of being unorganised. Living in a cluttered environment and being unorganised is circular – each feeds off the other. You can improve both aspects but must break the cycle by forming better habits.
It is energy-draining when your house is messy, as where you start and end your day significantly affects your mental health. Piles of different things and countless to-do lists are a real drag on the psyche, which affects not just your day-to-day schedule, but all aspects of your life.
Getting rid of all areas of clutter can help you make healthier decisions in life and feels liberating and rewarding. Once done, determine the correct place for the remaining items, and return them every time to manage future clutter forming.
I realise the above can be easier said than done when kids live in your home. So, throw things out when they are not looking (especially when they are young). Pick a room or an area that is theirs to mess up and clean up. Start young in teaching organisational skills; as complicated as that may be, it will serve you and them well in the future.
And finally, in the wise words of Marry Poppins, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” I, too, am a firm believer in rewarding your kids and, indeed, yourself to make this unpleasant job more manageable.
Learn to say ‘No.’
One way to become more organised is to set boundaries for yourself and others. There are countless books on the matter, all stressing the need for maintaining healthy boundaries. If others have clarity about what they can expect from you, it makes you feel empowered while strengthening your relationship with them.
In addition, it decreases your stress level, removes the guilt of saying no, and builds your self-esteem. Setting boundaries has many benefits, including making you feel more in control of your life, increasing your confidence and self-esteem, improving your communication with others, and reducing stress.
In their article “Setting Boundaries“, the highly regarded WebMD talks about such benefits and gives valuable suggestions on how to say “NO” confidently and unapologetically. Diplomatically, politely, and creatively, offering alternatives can assist you in enforcing your boundaries, especially in the beginning.
You do not have to provide lengthy excuses or reasons; your time, as much as theirs, is valuable and needs to be cherished and protected. Keeping this in mind can help you enforce your boundaries and ultimately care for your time as much as theirs.
Invest in a planner.
Planning your day helps significantly reduce your stress level and alleviates feeling rushed all the time. Take time at the end of the weekend to sit down and prepare for the upcoming week, then review it as you need each evening for the next day.
When you plan, you have the chance to do more of what you want. Your personal life becomes more satisfying when you can allocate time to achieve your goals. In your work life, becoming more productive can give you a substantial opportunity for career growth.
You don’t need to spend hundreds on fancy planers or apps. There are plenty of free printable planners when you search with Google. In addition, you can grab some beautiful printable planners for all your needs right here on the Single Mama Way website.
Having to-do lists, events, and reminders all laid out, will cause you to feel far more relaxed and in control, even on the days when the poop hits the fan.
Too often in life, we find ourselves in a reactive state. We permit things to happen to us instead of anticipating and planning for what may come. Unfortunately, this can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and prevent you from achieving your goals.
Thus, once you organise your home, plan your weeks and schedule your to-do lists, turn your attention to different stressors in your life. Evaluate for possible distractions or problems arising, allowing you to at least manage them if you cannot eliminate them entirely.
Being proactive leads to a feeling of empowerment. Having the clarity to see issues arising before they do, gives you a chance to address them with awareness. Awareness removes the pressure and leads to better decision-making, resulting in better outcomes.
Putting you in control of your life, leads to increased confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
Be kind to yourself.
Being systematic creates clarity of mind. This makes us feel more energetic and eager to do what needs to be done instead of avoiding it. However, getting started is always the most challenging part!
You will make mistakes and slip back into old habits; we all do. The key is not to give up, be compassionate to yourself and permit yourself to grow. You will get there one day at a time.
As always, if you need support, guidance or just someone completely non-invested and non-judgemental, then reach out. Book some time with me; I am happy to help.