At this time of year, Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) usually sees a pop in new members joining the organization, perhaps due to New Year’s resolutions, or just because it’s the start of a new year. And the biggest question for new maybe-SMCs (who we call “Thinkers”) is often, “How can I do this?” or “Can I do this?”
There’s no question that being an SMC is challenging, as well as incredibly wonderful. So I’ve compiled some good tips from our members to help answer those questions. For more good advice, join SMC and discuss your questions with our members, either online or in person, who are in the same place and/or have been there.
When my budget would allow, I hired a babysitter for 2 hours every Wednesday from 4-6 pm. It really made a difference for me, emotionally.
For me, having a somewhat satisfying job is important to my being able to be the best mom I can be.
When I feel like it is all a getting to be a slog, I usually have some kind of “treat” for our family that resets the balance. That might mean going to McDonalds for supper (one with a Playland) — just to avoid the meal clean-up. Or letting the kids watch too much TV one day. Or taking a day “off” and getting nothing accomplished. I am normally a non-stop worker around the house, constantly putting things in order and doing the next task that needs doing, but sometimes I just don’t.
I reach out to friends — often in the online SMC Forum — just to hear from some fellow voices who are on the same journey.
I take lots of photos and upload them and then sort through them and email them to friends. Somehow it makes me nostalgic for my kids, even though they are just down the hall. Photos stop time and stop action and stop the insanity, sometimes.
I hire a babysitter three nights a month. I have groceries (and whatever else I can) delivered. We don’t eat out much, but I like to cook.
No easy answers, but I’ll share my mantra with you: do what you can do when you can do it. Just know that it will get easier with more practice and more sleep.
Have an activity that I do just for myself one evening a month. Aside from that, we visit lots of playgrounds, kids’ museums, kids’ activities, etc.
When I really need a break the best thing for me is just to get us out of the house. We go to the park, on a walk, to places where we had low cost memberships, playland at the mall, all free places where we can go. Sometimes too much time at home time is a recipe for disaster.
I invite a lot of people over for dinner. Nothing major – spaghetti, maybe a casserole or something. We gotta eat, so why not? It’s nice to have company over to distract the toddler and get in some adult socializing.
If you can afford it, hire a housecleaner. We have few enough hours to spend with our children, let alone ourselves!! and cleaning toilets shouldn’t take away from that.
I use Sunday afternoon/evening to cook and prep food for a few days – make a pot of soup or some other one dish meal that I can have for a few days, and I’ll prep veggies to use in salads or for cooking. (or I’ll roast a big batch of veggies and then just need to re-heat). I have multiple single serving containers so I can pack up individual portions all at once and just grab and go in the mornings.
I use online banking and have all of my recurring monthly bills set up on auto pay.
Take a deep breath. And remember that, whatever it is, this too shall pass.
Thank you to all of the SMC members who contributed to this post, and Happy New Year to everyone!
Jane Mattes, LCSW, Founder and Director, SMC