3 Simple Self-Care Hacks for Single Moms
Being a single parent isn’t easy. The massive load we carry is heavy, and most days we feel like we are just surviving and not really living. In this pure “survival” mindset single moms, especially, often tend to let our physical, mental and emotional health slide to the back seat (or sometimes even in the trunk).
I get it. I’ve been a single mom for over three years now, and most of my days I’m just trying to keep on top of paying the bills on time, making sure my son has completed his homework, figuring out what’s for dinner, etc. The list goes on and on, and even with the to-do lists I create for the day (I’m an obsessive list-maker), some tasks just do not get done. I try to make peace with all this, as it’s inevitable as a single parent that you’ll feel overwhelmed. Balance isn’t attainable, and the idea that it is can only make your day more frustrating and disappointing. This is possibly the most unhealthy habit we can develop as we figure out our single parenting groove.
I have learned that there are habits that are “must-do’s” for staying stress-free, especially as a single parents. These habits take some time to do without intentional effort, because they likely won’t come naturally to us, but they make a huge impact on keeping our “tanks full.”
3 Simple self-care ideas for Single moms (and dads!)
Adopting these three simple habits will help you stay sane and put a smile in your face. Just three habits for single parents that I believe make a huge impact on our well-being. We can handle three, right?
1. Start a fun project or hobby just for you
This is harder than it sounds. At least, it was for me.
When you become a single parent, you tend to lose a bit of your identity, and in many ways you are creating an entirely new one. Don’t view this identity change as a negative process at all, just see it as a different one. Some of us may tap into personality traits and interests we had before we got married, or explore hobbies that we always wanted to try but never got to while coupled up. It’s completely normal and healthy to dip our toes into these new waters.
We might also think that taking time to work on a fun project or hobby may be a selfish way to utilize our time, but I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I think it makes us better parents to our children when we fill our minds with imagination and intrigue. You may even notice that when your kids see you working on something fun and engaging yourself, they’re inspired to do the same. As they say, kids do as we do.
As for which projects and/or hobbies fit best, that is entirely up to you and it may take some time to find what makes you tick. That’s perfectly fine. This isn’t a race to force yourself into a new hobby that you feel “meh” about, it’s a journey with hits and misses.
Hobby Idea 1: Become a Book Worm
One of my favorite hobbies (for now) is reading books that make me feel inspired and supported, especially non-fiction self-help books because I am fascinated with that genre. For you, maybe reading fiction sparks joy because you’re jumping into an imaginary world that may be a complete departure from reality. I can’t blame you one bit for loving that.
Hobby Idea 2: Play a Creative Video Game
Another hobby that I grew up loving and have gotten back into is playing video games. In particular, Animal Crossing on my Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s a game that allows me to escape to a cute digital space where I can creatively design (which triggers that part of my brain) an island and interact with other friends of mine who also play the game (yes, moms my age love this game as well).
Hobby Idea 3: Do a Little Decorating
As for projects, I use inspiration to guide me to what will be fun and not necessarily “productive” (like repairing a leaky faucet). One recent project I completed was making my bedroom a cozy and inspiring environment. This room is the only personal space I have in the house, so I wanted it to look special.
I found some great art to hang on the walls, piled several soft blankets and pillows on my bed, placed about 20 plants throughout the room, I showcased my favorite books in once empty spaces. Now when I wake up in the morning, I instantly feel inspired and comfortable in what I call my “sacred space.”
2. Reach out to at least one person a day
It’s easy to slowly isolate ourselves as single parents. We get so involved in our daily “survival mode” and our kid’s needs that our social lives often suffer.
There something called “touchpoints” that I learned during my journey as a single mom. In business, it refers to a brand making contact with a customer. In personal life, it means making contact with our trusted loved ones, and making time for friends. You also might do an enjoyable activity with your kids, something different than your typical parenting duties.
I recommend doing a touchpoint at least once a day to keep isolation at bay, even if the contact is with the same person each time. It’s even better if you have two, three or more people you keep in contact with. This social contact, whether done by phone, email, text or social media messaging, provides a bit of social and emotional nurturing that we as humans need. We once had our ex-spouses to confide in at the end of the day (or here and there throughout the day), and now that this is gone, our need for social interaction is stunted if we don’t put in the effort to connect with other humans.
3. Create a solid night-time sleep routine
I know exactly what you are thinking. “Sleep? What exactly is sleep? I’m a single parent.”
I’ve been there. I’m still there, but I’m working very hard to improve in this area.
First of all, sleep means everything. We simply cannot function in a healthy manner if we are deprived of sleep. Just like our children, you should develop a bedtime routine to prepare for sleep.
This night-time habit can also be a wonderful self-care moment to meditate, breathe slowly, put on your favorite beauty mask, listen to soothing music or a guided sleep meditation, read a comforting book, put lavender oil on your pillows, or moisturize your skin. Whatever calms you, this is the perfect time to do it.
Another big recommendation I have for preparing for sleep is putting all electronics away at least 30 minutes (if not longer) before bed. I know you’ve heard this before and you may even set this rule for your children. Smartphone, laptop, television, and other devices that can affect your sleep-inducing melatonin levels, turn it off/silence it and put it away (preferably in another room). This habit truly makes a huge difference in how well you sleep and, trust me, you want and need that good sleep. It varies by person, but most adults need between 7-9 hours a night.
You Can Do This
Start a fun project or hobby just for you. Reach out to at least one person a day, and communicate with them. Create a solid night-time sleep routine, and get a good night’s sleep. These are doable habits. Only three. You can handle three, I promise.
You’ve got this. You’re an amazing parent. You are worthy of caring for yourself, too.