Advice for New Single Moms: What I Have Learned

Someone just asked me for some single parenting advice. After feeling really sorry for her that she was trying to get advice from someone as hard up as me, I gave her the following list. While typing it up, I realized that I didn’t know most of this at first. It takes time to learn how to best live a new life. I’m still learning myself. 

 

  1. Get organized. Make lists. Every night I try to get every single thing done I can for the following morning rush. Make lunches, put backpacks by the door, line up boots and jackets, put plates out for breakfast, pack my own bag for work, choose outfits. Autopay is my best friend, saving me hours of time and stress. 
  2. Ask for help. I don’t do this enough. I know it, and I can’t help it, but I have friends who do it well, and their lives are easier and richer for it. Most people want to help.
  3. Your children can help. Mine are 8 and 9, and they set and clear the table, clean their rooms, put away jackets and shoes and backpacks, tidy up, and help a tiny bit with laundry. They make themselves breakfast, usually, and get themselves snacks. Next steps: sweeping the garden patio and maybe getting acquainted with the vacuum.
  4. Identify your triggers. Mine is bedtime when my kids get wild, and I know I have three loads of laundry to do before I can go to sleep myself. Another trigger is when I know we’re running late in the morning, yet one of my children will disappear upstairs and then come down still wearing pajamas when we’re supposed to be in the car. 
  5. Along these lines, I try my hardest to make sure my kids get to bed on time so that I have time to relax and take care of myself at night. I know I need this time to stay sane.
  6. Find a friend with kids who is also divorced, or who has a husband who works late, and get together once a week with kids and order pizza for the kids, and salads or sushi for you. Drink some wine.
  7. I also pay my cleaning lady some extra money now to do laundry for me when she’s here. I can’t really afford it, but it saves my sanity.
  8. I keep my house seriously clutter free and I’m ruthless about throwing things away. Some people wouldn’t approve, but they’re mostly SAHMs or SAHMs with lots of “help.” I probably used to be one of them.
  9. Try to pick one thing every week that you really WANT to do with your children, and just try to be present with them, even if you’re stressed out. Breathe. Try to forget all your worries for a few hours. 
  10. Create new traditions and routines like reading out loud at night, going to a special restaurant, or finding a trail to hike. Make a special recipe – anything new and different.
  11. Practice thankfulness in your own life, and try to teach it to your kids. You might not have the picture perfect family, but you are still a family. Your children are loved. They have a roof over their heads. We go around the dinner table nearly every night and list things that make us thankful. Some nights it’s not very meaningful. But other nights, I think it blows us all away. 

 

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