The journey of a single parent can be challenging. You feel the need to do everything, be everywhere, and play the role of mom and dad. Because you are so busy taking care of others, it’s easy to start neglecting your own needs. This is the perfect formula for pressure, stress, fatigue, and parent burnout.
Single moms may have an overwhelming set of circumstances, but it is also filled with moments of intense love and absolutely rewarding relationships with your kids. As a single mom, you are the anchor of your family, which is why it’s important to take time to practice intentional self-love. While taking care of yourself isn’t a solution to financial woes, exhaustion, or loneliness, it does offer a foundation to parenting with joy and confidence, no matter the trials that come your way.
What is self-love?
Ask five people what they think love is, and you’re sure to receive at least three different answers. It might get more confusing when we ask what self-love is about.
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-love as a regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than a narcissistic characteristic).
There is a verse in the Bible that defines what love is. Ephesians 5:29 says, “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the Church.”
To love is to nourish; to bring someone into mental, physical, spiritual, and relational maturity. And love also cherishes; it protects someone from hindrances. Following that line of thought, self-love is to protect and provide for yourself first, so that you can provide it to others. If you can’t give enough care and attention to yourself, it is most probable that you’ll have a hard time giving it to others as well.
Solo moms get-real
We asked several single moms about the challenges they face and how they plan to love themselves more this 2018. It was surprising that from the 10 moms we asked, only 3 were able to answer. This is not a bad thing, let’s make that clear. But it does show how self-care isn’t really on a single mom’s Top 10 To-Do-List. Indeed, it’s a wakeup call to do things a little differently especially during this love month.
The toughest challenge about single parenthood has to be the juggling act. I’m everything to her: breadwinner, sole supporter, discipline, comfort zone, and source of unconditional love. It can get confusing to her, to me, to everyone around. And every so often, one or more of the balls I’ve got juggling in the air falls. I forget the dog food. I neglect to pay a bill. I don’t earn enough money. And oh, the guilt that ensues is enough to bring bouts of self-pity. But the greatest part about the whole situation is knowing you can’t afford to wallow for more than 30 seconds because a tiny human being needs you to pull yourself together and smile through it all. Fake it until you make it—and in trying to convince her that she’s got nothing to worry about, I end up convincing myself as well. This 2018, I plan to love myself more by (1) having a bottle of Merlot in the house without fail, (2) finally exercise, somehow, (3) have a me-date once a week without work or kids, even for a movie with popcorn that nobody gets to share with me, and (4) FORGIVE MYSELF every time I fail. Hug the kid, say sorry, start again. – Ana, 37, devoted single mommy to 22-month old Anya Raphaelle
The toughest challenge for me is overcompensating because of the lack of a father. It’s so tiring to constantly try to be the perfect mom. From the moment I wake up, my whole day revolves around the schedule of my son. My work, my home, my errands all depend on what Javi needs to do that day. This year I plan to set aside time for myself at least once a week. Time that is just for me. It could be to just get a massage, a mani-pedi, or even just a blow dry. Anything that has to do with just me. – Dorothy, single parent to 8-year old Javi
What I find most challenging is doing everything alone. I’m a full-time mom, a full-time worker (although I’m blessed to have my own time), family finance head, and problem-solver. My schedule revolves around my son and I wouldn’t have it any other way. On the up-side, I see every smile and tear, I know I am there for him. BUT, I’m always rushing to get everything done. I barely have enough time for myself. I haven’t had a pedicure in 3 months! This 2018, I resolve to take care of myself more by losing weight, I’ve set a long-term goal to achieve it through healthy eating and exercise. I also enrolled in an online course that I will finish! And finally, I promise to be kind to myself. To accept that I don’t have 8 arms, 8 legs, and 8 brains. To just take things one task at a time. – Judy, solo mom to 9-year old Manu
Totally doable Me-Time ideas
It seems our moms are on the right track! Self-love is as simple as scheduling alone time for yourself. And for single moms with so much on their minds, that’s the best that can be done.
Here are a few more ideas on how moms can take care of themselves more during this month of love:
- Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep are expressions of self-worth. Treat yourself the way you would your children.
- Write a letter to yourself. Tell yourself your goals for the year and how you plan to achieve them. Make it a personal goal to read it on December 31, 2018 to see how much you’ve accomplished.
- Take walks at least thrice a week. If you can’t, find the time to just get a few minutes of fresh air all for yourself.
- Document your amazing life by taking (and framing) more pictures or journaling. This will give you so much more reasons to be grateful.
- Clean your house. It’s very therapeutic.
- Go watch a movie! I know, it may sound impossible, but plan ahead and aim for once a quarter.
- Schedule salon time. Feel free to ask your family and friends to sit your little one for a few hours so you can get beautified without someone constantly asking how many more minutes he or she has to wait.
- Sit with a cup of coffee and lose yourself in a good book. Even for just 15 minutes. The world won’t end. We promise.
- Actually have fun at the playground. Sit on the swing and show your kid who can really swing higher.
- Give your kids a tight hug. Amazing how this simple act takes all your single mom stress away!
Make time for me-time
Solo moms owe it to themselves and their children to practice self-care. When you take the time to do things you enjoy, you nourish (provide) and cherish (protect) yourself. You’re not taking time away from your kids, you’re investing in yourself so that you can spend more quality time with them. Treat your me-time like you would a business meeting. Show up and get it done!
Surely, there are more ways you can take care of yourself. This 2018, use these ideas as a starting point for your own self-love story. It’s going to be an exciting road ahead!