Pandemic parenting sounds like a trendy new fad, but every single mother knows the reality is much less fashionable. None of us were prepared for having to deal with kids at home all day, and suddenly being responsible for their schooling has made us even more appreciative of schoolteachers. I know I surely do—Thank you for your service, Mr Mohammed! Families everywhere have been affected, but even more so single mothers. For self-reliant moms, the pandemic means a whole host of new challenges: changes in work hours, new spending considerations, and new reasons to feel overwhelmed as you become more aware of gaps in your support system. The ‘new normal’ was one thing, but it would seem like supermoms subscribed to the premium package!
Here are some tips on how to balance time for the kids at home with some time for yourself.
1- Have Your Own Routine
If you haven’t already, establishing your own routine can be helpful when trying to make more ‘mom-me-time’. Rising earlier than your kids could give you an hour or two, depending on your needs and your schedule. With those added hours you could:
- Do morning exercises
- Have a hearty breakfast alone
- Just enjoy some quiet time
- Plan your day: get a head start on important tasks to leave room for more important things later on
Remember, the point of this is to do something that energizes your body and soul for the rest of the day.
2- Involve The Kids In Your Activities
Sometimes it’s just not possible to be up before the kids. But don’t worry, you can still find a way around your early birds. Assign tasks, and have the kids sit quietly while you focus on something else. Challenge them to push through a full mission while mommy cooks or works. Yeah, but let’s be real, it’s just not always going to be that simple, and kids don’t always like feeling left out. Most desire to be included or attended to, so why not have them join in? Of course, it’s not going to be possible every time to include your kids, and boundaries would need to be set, but more on that next!
Try these helpful activities:
- Reading Time
If you’re obsessed with books like I am and haven’t found the time to get back into your reading because you’ve been busy with the kids, why not try making it a group activity? Get the kids to pick out their favourite books and spend a specified amount of time reading together. While you catch up on your favourite read, your kids will be catching up on Dr Seuss. This not only gives you time doing something for yourself, but it’s also a good way to spend useful quality time with the kids. And when has reading ever been a bad thing?
Pro Tip: Set up a Reading Nook: Every week dare the kids to read a certain number of chapters or books and then reward them with a choice, fun, mom-approved activity.
Kids love sweet treats, and getting their hands dirty! Baking is a great way to get everyone together (Who doesn’t love bread?). Cookies, brownies, cake, or sweet bread are fun baked goods that kids can get their hands into and will become good memories too! Try out some fun new recipes and challenge the kids to try new things with you.
Story Time! My sister Carol is obsessed with plants; she literally has hundreds of them — no joke! Sometimes while looking after her three-year-old grandson, she would take him into the garden and get him involved. Gardening is one of her greatest pastimes, and her grandson has been learning a lot about plants and gardening by watching her and literally getting into the dirt with her, pretending to plant, and watching her process. He will grow up with a great understanding of gardening and a love of plants because of these exercises in nature with my sister.
For plant moms who spend hours in the garden, you can share the gift of agriculture. Kids can learn about plants, kitchen veggies, and how to cultivate new life. It’s just better to get them involved with you than fight against them to do what you need to do. More importantly, family time activities can provide life skills and empower your kids.
3- Set Boundaries
Single parenting is a tough job. Add to that, chores, homeschooling, homework, playtime ‘me-time’, your actual job or job hunting… and you start to see the importance of setting boundaries. You need time to focus on yourself. You need time to focus on YOU.
Compartmentalization will help with carving out chunks of time for a healthy work-life-parenting balance. And sticking to those boundaries will help keep you on top of it all. That means sometimes asking the kids to sit quietly while you decompress. Or calling for someone you trust to see after them while you take a short walk.
It’s important that you set aside time each day to remind yourself that you’re not just a mom, you’re also a person who needs a break.
4- Do something For Yourself
This brings us to our most important point. Doing something for yourself is so important. Have some wine, if you’re into that sort of thing. Do more yoga. Take a longer bath, or give yourself an at-home facial. I love a good facial mask and a foot scrub from Pennywise Cosmetics. Find time to tend to yourself at home while the kids are asleep, watching their favourite show or, otherwise occupied.
5- Don’t Stay Isolated
Don’t forget, during this time your mental health is important. While it’s superb to focus on spending time with kids and balancing your life, you also want to remember the importance of reaching out to other people. We are social animals, and it’s essential to create and maintain bonds with others. Don’t be afraid to reconnect with people (be they family or friends), while observing social distancing regulations. The hard fact is, being a parent can sometimes be isolating, and pandemic life has made it especially difficult to be on your own.
You’re a single parent, but you don’t have to be a lonely parent.
Images sourced from Unsplashed.com and Pinterest.com with the exception of ‘Grandson in the garden’ given with the permission of it’s owner for publication in this article- . Thank you Carol.