One thing I have heard from pretty much every married parent friend at this point is something along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it alone.” It’s never a question, just a statement. I appreciate what they are trying to say, how they are trying to give me a little pat on the back. Though it would actually be much more flattering if it were a question. If they were actually asking for my tips and tricks because they think I’m such a badass single mom. So, here you go. No one asked the question but today I’m answering it.
Schedule, schedule, schedule. Meals, mornings, gardening time, bathing, and even my new running routine. Everything is built into our schedule at pretty exact times. Yeah, there is some flexibility, but I’ve found that not reinventing the wheel every week has saved my brain from constant computing the when/where/how stuff.
Side gigs. Making it work on one income is tough. Luckily I have honed some mad skills over the years that I’ve been able to support us with. Even with an education and lots of experience behind me though – it can still be hard to make ends meet on solely one income. I’ve found that having a regular side gig has been helpful. For me it has been overnight babysitting. Either a parent drops her kids off at my place or I travel to their home and I look after her kids overnight. Most nights it is incredibly easy money (though some nights are hard if someone isn’t sleeping well).
Venting. Oh yeah. I talk to my friends about the hard stuff that goes on. I don’t try to keep up that perfect parent facade. That doesn’t serve anyone. Not only is it a g-damn relief to let go of that but it has helped my friends also feel like they can be honest about how difficult life can be at times. How is that for community building?! A win-win-win situation if you ask me.
Simple outings. We have our favorite spots for the most part. Our community garden. A nearby beach. A nearby hiking spot. A slightly less nearby farm. We get out further every once in a while too (what’s up Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington DC, Baltimore, Arkansas and Washington state!). And I’m trying to start a family tradition of going camping somewhere once per month year-round. But we love our go-to spots and I don’t feel like I constantly have to think up ultra-entertaining outings.
Early bedtime. At least I gather that it is early among other families I know… In the summer bedtime creeps to as late as 7pm. In the wintertime when it gets dark earlier it’s about 6pm to bed. Then he sleeps until about 7 or 8am. Early bedtime keeps us both sane because we both get plenty of sleep and after he goes to bed I even have time to do a few things around the house or finish up some work for a client. Or even better – some yoga, meditation, reading or even writing in this lil’ blog here. 🙂
A helping hand. It’s not what you think – this helping hand is toddler sized. From picking up his toys, putting laundry in the washing machine, emptying the dishwasher, scrubbing the bathtub, putting on his own clothes, washing his own hands, pouring a glass of water…he can do so much himself and it’s a load off of me for sure.
Simple recipes. We eat the same things often over here. Less meal planning and list making = good for mama. So dinner is pretty set by night of the week (Monday is fish, tamales and broccoli. Tuesday is stir fried beef and broccoli or kale with rice. Wednesday is chicken and sweet potatoes. Thursday is pasta with sardines. Friday is burritos. Saturday is usually pizza and Sunday is either leftovers from the week or a crock-pot meal.) Lunch is a healthy smorgasbord of some typical lunch items (think deconstructed sandwich). And breakfast is either hot cereal/oatmeal, eggs sausage and toast, or a bowl of cheerios with pinenuts and banana on a lazy morning. Add in some regular snack foods (nuts, dried fruit, raw fruit and veggies, cheese, crackers, hard-boiled eggs) and this means the same grocery list every week and no standing in front of the fridge thinking….whaaaaat am I going to make.
Self-care. You probably noticed that self-care is really built into the above. My regularly scheduled running, healthy easy foods, talking with friends, prioritizing sleep, spending time outdoors – it’s all part of the master plan.
And you know what married friends? It still sucks sometimes. I don’t have all the answers but I do appreciate being able to offer what has helped me. I did a whole series of 31 tips and trick this past May, so if you want more ideas – scroll back a few months. But the above is really what gets me through a typical week. I hope at least one little tip was helpful to you! Leave me your best tip in the comments below!