A Single Mom’s Guide to Getting Shiz’ Done
Recently, I heard a mompreneur use the phrase “Juggling the Mother Lode” to describe the way she handles the many roles and responsibilities in life. I love it and am using it as often as I can.
As a single mom with three kids, 2 jobs and learning to start an online business, there is a lot I want and need to accomplish in a day. Recently, one of my best friends had to go out of town to care for an ailing parent. Her husband sent out an email with the title, “Help me Obi Wan Kanobi” and basically got help from friends and family just about every day of the week to watch, feed and pick up the kids. I love it and was happy to volunteer — but let’s face it. If I sent an email like that every week — which is how often I am taking care of the kids on my own — things would get pretty awkward.
So, what’s a girl to do? Here are my top tips and tricks for getting Shiz’ done.
Know that you are enough. I don’t know why my husband died. I don’t know why the relationship that was supposed to be my second chance at a “real family” ended. (I mean, I know the specific reasons — but I’m talking Grand Plan here!) But I do know that God doesn’t make mistakes. And if I’m still here, then I have a purpose. And as of this moment, I’m convinced that I have a lot of living and loving to do. So I’m determined to do it well! I have a page of soul reminders inspired by Leonie Dawson that I say out loud daily.
God is with you!
Miracles happen every day.
You are Glowing.
You can do it!
Ask for help — it wants to come to you.
You have divine access to everything you need.
These messages remind me of powerful truths that put me in the mindset to make the most of every day knowing that I am and have enough.
Rituals are everything! My morning ritual. My weekly planning ritual. My sacred time with my girlfriends…all of these things have become habits and the backbone of intentional living. Research shows that having too many choices actually leaves us exhausted, unhappy and anxious. So, I use my routines to be sure that I am saying “yes” to the things that matter most.
Learn to say “no” to your kids. In our house, we have a one activity rule. That means, the kids can only do one extra-curricular activity at a time. It may seem obvious to some, but in our neighborhood, most kids play multiple sports and take music lessons and may even have extra tutoring outside of school. It’s all part of the “Race to Nowhere” as parents cram their family’s schedule in the name of giving their kids the best opportunities. As a single parent, I can only be in one place at a time. That means, we all have to work together to make this family work. So, we won’t be able to go to every birthday party and we’ll have to choose between karate OR football. And that’s OK. (We also call these “rich people problems” but that’s for another post).
Have a Game Plan. Sunday evenings are reserved for my weekly planning. I’m a paper and pencil girl at heart, so I pull out my planner and write it down. I design my week around my priorities. For me, that means physical, spiritual and emotional health, followed by caring for my family (which includes work), kids activities and, finally, everything else. I have a morning routine to set my day up emotionally and spiritually. Next, I put in my work appointments and kid’s activities. Then I find my time to exercise. My goal is daily movement, so I make it a game to squeeze in a workout in any available timeslot, no matter how early or late!
A little tip: a great time to exercise is while the kids are at a sports practice. I used to sit there and watch until I realized I was spending 8–10 hours a week on the field!
I usually plan about 6 nights worth of meals and leave one day for leftovers or eating out. The menu dictates the shopping list which is written out and ready for whatever day I get to the store.
Finally, I see what extras are a top priority to get on our calendar. If it’s not a “heck, yeah!”, then it’s gotta be a “heck, no.”
This process usually take a little over an hour but saves me a lot of time, anxiety and stress because I know the most important things are going to get done, eventually.
Become a morning person. Before 2016, my ideal time to wake up would be 9am. Of course, with three kids at home that never happens but it was still my ideal schedule. Typically, I would wake up around 7 or 7:30. Just enough time to get the older kids off to school. Earlier this year, I heard a podcast from Michael Hyatt describing why it’s good to be a morning person and, more importantly, HOW to do it. I was convinced!
I start each morning with a routine that nourishes me spiritually. The rule is: no technology until I’ve fed my soul. No email. No texts. It’s just me, my coffee, my journal and a good book near a big window.
I set the alarm between 530 and 6am. When it goes off, I tell myself “I’m a morning person” and get out of bed. I turn on all the lights. I drink a big cup of water. I make my coffee and settle in to my morning spiritual fill-up. I’ve made a commitment to myself that I do not check technology until I’ve had my coffee and a few moments to reflect on what I want to accomplish for the day, to release any thoughts that no longer serve me and be open to new ways of looking at the world.
Currently, The Book of Awakening, Jesus calling and Experiencing God are my guides. After filling my mind and heart with inspiring new perspectives, I take some time to journal, meditate or pray about what I’ve just learned, what I’m dreaming or worried about. This is the one part of my day where I can be soft…the rest of my world is Lock and Load, but this time to commune with God is a place that humbles me, allows me to look beyond myself and almost always ends in tears. The kind that come when there are no words for the joy, gratitude, pain, surrender or whatever emotional tumble may be on at the moment.
This simple ritual sets the tone for the rest of my day. Cultivating this connection between Spirit and myself strengthens me for whatever comes my way.
Find your Tribe. This is one of the trickiest parts of being a single mom. By the time you’ve taken care of yourself, your family and your work, there is little time or energy left to give to a community. I’m lucky enough to say that I have found an amazing tribe of women that have walked with me through the highs and lows of life over the past 6+ years.
We call ourselves the Yayas , a weekly meeting of beautiful women. We meet every Tuesday, after the kids go to bed. We talk, we share, drink tea or wine and generally just “be” there for each other. This girlfriend time literally keeps me sane! These are the women that have my back. I trust them with my kids. I trust them with my dreams. Every woman, single mom or not, needs a sister hood like this.
I am so grateful for the girlfriend that posed the question, “How do you do everything you do?” Looking over this list, I realize I haven’t shared the specific tools, technologies and tricks that allow me to juggle the Mother Lode of my life. Instead, I’ve realized the stories I tell myself are what move me forward. I’m grateful for what I have. I believe the Universe has my back. I think my spiritual, emotional and physical health must be prioritized in order for me to love my family the way I should.
I am loved because of who I am, not what I do.
If this post resonates with you, I’d love to connect with you over on my blog. Do you have a cool trick for getting it done? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.