The beeping sound from the coffee pot in the morning used to be a welcoming sound. Now, I find myself rushing over to turn it off before the sound goes off so as not to wake any sleeping children, especially on a Saturday. It’s my only me time these days.
We are a military family and when my husband received his latest orders to go to the other side of the country just eight months after moving to South Carolina, we made the hard decision to stay behind since I’m in school, and we really didn’t want to uproot the kids all over again so soon.
Settling down on the couch, I open up the book I’m reading, and just as I start reading the first page, a soft whine comes through on the baby monitor…
Solo parenting is hard.
To be clear, there is a difference between single parenting and solo parenting. I was a single mom before I met my husband, and it is totally different. If I’m honest, I thought I would be fine without my husband because I’d been a single mom. But it’s actually completely different.
Going into it, I was thinking about me; how I would handle our routine, or how I’d deal with discipline. But there were a few things I didn’t account for. Most importantly, I didn’t prepare for just how much the kids would miss their dad. But having a solid routine does help provide consistency and stability to help minimize the meltdowns and anxiety that comes with that separation.
If you’re a solo parenting mom for whatever reason, I hope these tips help you navigate through this season of motherhood.
As often, and as much as you’re able to, communicate and stay connected with your children and your spouse. I know that when my kids really start to miss dad, they are a bit clingier or need more attention.
I set aside one on one time with them to play a game, make their favorite meal or whatever it takes to make them feel seen. I also work with my husband’s schedule to do a video call or get on the PlayStation together.
2. Take Care of You
If you don’t already have a self-care regimen, adopt one today. You are taking on a lot and you need to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, be active, eat healthy, and do something special for yourself frequently. Even if it’s just getting your favorite drink from Starbucks.
There is an old saying that goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” That is so true! I was definitely that mom that lost herself in all the things mom life, and it’s even easier to do as a solo parent. But taking care of yourself allows you to be a better mom.
3. Outsource What You Can
I admit, this one was a difficult one to do. I watched my mom do it all, so I thought that was what moms did. But we don’t have to do every single thing. Outsourcing will bring added peace and a lot less stress on your day to day. Think about one to two things that you could hire someone else to do that would truly make a difference in your life. Meal Delivery? Laundry service? House cleaner? Tutor for the kids? Babysitter? These things don’t make you any less than the superhero mom that you are.
4. Build a Community
My closest family is about four hours away, so not around the corner at all. Being a solo parent, you will need to lean on others from time to time. If you don’t have one already, you will need a community, a tribe; people you can depend on. You can reach out on Facebook groups, at church, or maybe at the workout group you go to.
If you’re like me and basically a hermit, you might have to go outside of your comfort zone to meet new people. Set up a playdate and invite some of your neighbors. Your community will be such a great help to you and can truly make a difference.
5. Give Yourself Grace
Not every day will be perfect. Some weeks I meal plan like a boss, and some days I sit on the couch and watch Disney movies with the kids all day (or by myself). There are some days when they kids are up and out the house on time for school, and other days I’m on the fence of “hmm, can they miss a day of school?” because I don’t want to get out of bed before I drag myself and them out of the bed to arrive at school just before they’re tardy.
Give yourself grace. Be gentle with yourself and love on yourself. Juggling all the things can be overwhelming. If you need space to just rest your mind and your body, do it. Listen to your body and your spirit. Fill yourself up with good things and truly be kind to yourself.
The solo parenting journey can be very hard to handle physically, mentally and emotionally. These five tips truly helped me to stay focused on doing my best while loving on myself and my kids during this hard time, and I hope that they help you too!
One thing I have learned the past few months is that you can never be fully prepared for the curve balls of solo parenting. It’s really just taking each day as it comes and remember to ask for help.