Self-care almost always feels wrong for a parent with young children. In 2020 alone, there were 15.5 million families led by single moms, each sacrificing their own needs daily to give their children the best things in this world. But endless sacrifices are not the most effective way to run a family.
Denying yourself physical and mental rest won’t do anyone any good. Maybe, it’s time to recognize that self-care for single moms is essential for a family’s well-being and not just the whim of a selfish parent.
Self-Care Ideas for Moms
What do single parents need to overcome exhaustion and start living a fulfilling life? Although there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, some measures are absolutely essential. So, here are seven self-care ideas for parents raising their kids alone to avoid single-parent burnout.
1. Make time for exercise
Self-care for single parents should include exercising. Some people may argue that they don’t even have time to shower in peace, let alone do anything else. But surely, you can find 15 minutes a day for physical activity of your choice. The effect is worth it.
You’ll keep yourself in good shape and feel more confident and attractive while naturally boosting positive emotions. Plus, it helps fight off depression and anxiety.
But how to squeeze a workout into a solo mom’s busy day? If you’re thinking about joining the gym, choose one with baby care services. This way, you won’t have to look for a babysitter and can check on your child anytime during the workout.
If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase a gym membership, that’s okay. There are plenty of resources with free video lessons or low-cost workout programs. You need a pair of leggings or shorts, a mat, and 10-15 minutes before your child wakes up in the morning or while they’re napping.
2. Ask for help more often
As a single mom, you have to juggle multiple tasks at once. You take care of children, drive them to school, manage a job, cook dinner, and help kids with schoolwork. The list goes on and on. But, no doubt, a single mom is a superwoman, strong, independent, and constantly fighting with difficulties.
But does it have to be like that? Who said you need to be a tired single mom doing everything yourself? Unfortunately, many people believe that asking for help is something shameful that makes them look weak or pitiful. But guess what? No one can do everything on their own.
If you want to make time for yourself as a single parent, you have to learn to ask others for help. Consider creating a support system of positive people. They could be your family members, neighbors, or other single parents. Some of these people will listen to you when you need to talk and let the emotions out. Others will give you valuable advice or stay with your child once in a while.
If there’s no one to leave your baby with for an hour or two, you can try respite care for single parents in your area. It’s a service where a volunteer comes to your house and takes care of your child while you handle emergencies.
3. Take time to do what you enjoy
When you try to be the sole care provider for your kids 24/7, it’s easy to lose yourself and forget about living your life instead of surviving another day. If you’re caught in a similar scenario, it probably won’t be long before you find yourself completely exhausted, both physically and emotionally. To avoid single-parent burnout, it’s vital to make time for rest and pleasant activities.
Self-care activities for mothers leading a hectic lifestyle may include anything from going to bed earlier to starting a blog. So close your eyes and think about what you would do if you had all the time in this world for yourself. It could be taking a bath with aromatic candles, reading a book, gardening, or anything else that you feel like doing.
These activities and hobbies will keep you sane and reload your brain. Plus, shifting your focus regularly on something other than taking care of your child will make you less irritable or impatient.
4. Create your own spa at home
Every woman craves to feel beautiful, no matter her age, career, social or marital status. Yet, the reality of a single mom’s life is that she either doesn’t have time or money to visit expensive beauty salons.
So, here are a few tips for moms to take care of themselves when the resources are limited. First, you may safely put off spa visits and do similar treatments at home. For instance, you can do your nails or facial care using a great variety of cosmetics available pretty much everywhere. Just remember to look for products that fit your skin type and are hypoallergenic.
Second, develop your daily routine. Allocate time for self-care in the morning and evening or when your kids are asleep or playing. You don’t need to barricade yourself in the bathroom and leave them alone. Apply a mask or a serum and go back to your usual chores. And remember, if you look good, you feel the same way. So, think of a home spa as an energy drink for your soul.
5. Dress up more
It’s widely accepted that clothing is linked to our mood and behavior. For instance, when we feel down, we tend to choose plain clothes with no jewelry. But the connection is two-way. So, if you open up your wardrobe and put on bright colors or a fancy dress, you’ll automatically start feeling happier.
So, stop spending all day in sweatpants. Instead, find an occasion to dress up, even if you work from home and only go out to shop for groceries. Take the time and effort to look stylish wherever you go, as it will improve your mood and add more confidence.
6. Monitor your emotional and mental state
Single parents are so busy taking care of their kids that they often ignore their own emotional needs. Coupled with financial hardship and isolation, ignoring emotions and feelings often causes single-parent stress and other mental health issues. Approximately 30% of single mothers develop a mental condition compared to 15% of partnered moms.
What can you do about it? Check on yourself throughout the day. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” Your emotional well-being is the core of your inner strength. It makes you strong for your kids, so you need to keep your mental state in good shape.
The easiest ways to let go of emotional strain are mindful breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and journaling. And if you can’t put yourself together or shake off anxiety or depression on your own, maybe it’s time to see a mental health counselor or a therapist.
7. Stop chasing perfection
The last piece of advice is the hardest to follow. Our society has created a golden standard of a mother who can do it all: cleaning, washing, cooking. Plus, she does her chores flawlessly and with a smile. And thousands of moms genuinely believe they have to fit this ridiculous standard. The best self-help books for single moms teach them to give more of their time and energy to raise a perfect child.
But the thing is, your child doesn’t need an exhausted single mom who doesn’t have time to tell them a bedtime story because she’s busy making a twelve-dish dinner. So, relax and forgive yourself for any imperfections. You should parent your kids the way that makes sense for you and not chase impossible standards created by other people.
The happiness and well-being of your family depend on your physical and emotional state. So, if you’re a single mom, take care of yourself regularly, or you won’t have the strength to move forward. It doesn’t make you selfish, as society wants you to believe. Instead, by being kinder to yourself, forgiving your mistakes, and getting more rest, you release more energy to support your family and raise healthy and happy children.
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach and a contributing writer at OnlineDivorce.com. She’s proficient in cognitive-behavioral therapy, parent-child relationship, and trauma recovery methods.