4 Ways to Balance Life as a Working Single Parent

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As a single, working mom, and I’ve learned that Rule Number One is this:  Don’t be so hard on yourself!  As much as we would like to be – or try to be – Super Mom, we are not; we are only human. We can only do so much and be in one place at a time.  It is completely okay to allow some things to just NOT GET DONE. Period!

Balancing life as a single parent

Here are four ideas for balancing work, life, kids, money, and health:

Assign your kids chores

Giving your children something to do such as age-appropriate chores, apart from homework and extracurricular activities, will help teach them responsibility and a host of other great attributes.  It also will take some things off your plate and give you extra time for yourself. You can get some much-needed rest or do other things that you wouldn’t have time to do otherwise, and trust me, chores never hurt anyone.

In fact, according to an article in the Washington Times, a study done by Marty Rossmann of the University of Mississippi found that chores “instilled in children the importance of contributing to their families and gave them a sense of empathy as adults.” Individuals who had done chores as children – as young as age 3 or 4 – were more likely to be well-adjusted, be more successful professionally, and have better relationships with their friends and family.

So, there you have it: affirmation that chores aren’t just one more thing your kids have to do.  It’s good for them and even better for you.

Find an employer that values work/life balance

You should not have to sacrifice quality time with your family because you are a single parent. Many studies have shown that employees who have a good work/life balance are much more productive and happier at their workplace, contributing to a positive company culture and a better work environment, when they are not expected to choose between their kids and their job.

According to a Forbes article titled, “The Importance of Work-Life Balance,” finding work/life balance is not just about taking your vacation days, but it is crucial for your mental and physical health and it can help prevent burnout and stress.

Work/life balance is important for everyone in the workforce, but it is even more imperative for a single parent to be able to find it within an organization. It can mean different things to each person, but just having the confidence that your employer understands the sole responsibilities a single parent faces daily would create such a relief and result in greater loyalty to the employer for a win/win situation.

Get proper rest

It is hard enough having to juggle the life of a single parent and working a full-time job, or possibly even a second job.  It is even more difficult if you have absolutely no energy to maintain it.

When we do not get proper rest, not only does our work performance decrease, but our ability to stay present when our children are requiring or demanding our undivided attention decreases dramatically and our relationships with them can suffer.

Federal researchers say that single mothers are the most sleep-deprived people in America. The report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “44% of single moms living with children under the age of 18 fall short of the recommendations to get at least seven hours” of sleep each night.  Sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of mental and health issues, which is the last thing anyone needs.

Life today is busy, to say the least and we oftentimes can find ourselves just going through the motions, but we must make a conscious effort every night to get the rest that we need, for ourselves and our kids. This may mean shutting off the TV at a certain time, sticking to a bedtime for you and your kids, or simply creating an alarm on your phone that says, “Drop what you’re doing, go to sleep!” Whatever works for you!

Also, keep in mind that a lot of the time, “how you get ready to sleep, determines how you sleep.”

Live on a Budget

As single parents, we sometimes try to make up for the absence of the other parent by doing things for our kids that we think make them “happy.” We may buy our kids extra things they do not need, go on trips, or do more extra-curricular activities that ultimately stretch us thin and result in spending more money than we may be able to afford.

It is absolutely okay, and also important, to spend extra time with our children, having fun and creating great memories.  However, it shouldn’t “break the bank” or put us in a financial strain. Having a well thought out plan for our hard-earned money allows us to operate in a way that won’t leave us even more stressed and worried.

A budget does not restrict us from being able to have fun or buy the things we want for ourselves or our children, but it gives us the permission to do them without having a guilty conscience.

Contact the author directly at lakita.leggett@staffone.com.