If you’re a single mom, you’re probably a very busy lady. You have to take on all the normal duties of parenthood alone, and you also have to assume the mantle of breadwinner and go out to earn a living. At the end of the working day, when traditional bread winners come home and flop into an armchair or onto the couch with the newspaper and a glass of beer to await dinner, there’s no such luxury for you. You come in from work, pick the kids up from the child minder, tidy the house after the morning chaos, and set about making the dinner. Oh, not forgetting helping the kids with their homwework, driving them to their after school clubs or friends’ houses, preparing their clothes for the next day and doing any work you have brought home with you to complete.
Phew! It’s not surprising you’re exhausted. So you probably have a rueful laugh to yourself when you hear well meaning people tell you to find a good ‘work/life balance’! You may even wonder what on earth this magical ‘work /life balance’ could possibly be. For sure, it isn’t easy to find!
Working moms not only feel physically exhausted, they also often suffer feeelings of guilt that they have to spend so much time away from their children. Of course you’d prefer to be with them for all those important moments of their young lives, but you can’t. So you have to find a way to rationalize your feelings of guilt and live with them. You probably try to offset this enforced time away from the kids by spending every spare minute with them when you’re not actually at work. But, believe it or not, this isn’t always best for the kids, and it certainly isn’t best for you. Happy kids are more often than not the product of happy moms. And you’re not going to be happy if you’re permanently tired or feeling guilty or resentful.
So, what is this elusive healthy ‘work/life’ balance’, and how do you find it? Well, you have to go out and look for it. It isn’t going to crawl out from under the sofa and present itself.
A healthy work/life balance is one that allows you to be successful at work, achieve the smooth running of the household, care for your children and let them know they are loved, yet which also allows you time to be yourself and to pursue the things that make you happy.
‘Yeah, fine, you say to yourself. But how on earth am I going to manage that?’
No one says it’s easy, but it is possible. First, you have to convince yourself that you are worth the effort. You, as a human being and a woman, are worth some time spent on yourself and on yourself alone. Once you accept this, you’re part way to succeeding. Even when you’re tired, if you have the opportunity to grab a little time for an activity you enjoy, try to do it instead of just collapsing on the couch or going to bed. Believe it or not, it is more likely to increase your energy levels rather than to deplete them. Doing something you enjoy is energizing. If you like running, make time for this, and make it regular. If you like meeting your friends, take time out to do it. Get a hobby that gets you out of the house and away from the kids, even if it’s just for a couple of hours a week. Doing something like needlework at home doesn’t help, however much you enjoy the activity. If this is your thing, join a sewing circle and go out to meet new people and learn new sewing skills. You need to get away from your home enviromnment to really feel the benefits. If you stay home, something will distract you or command you attention (usually a child!) and your precious time will be lost.
How you manage to find this time will vary from mom to mom. Maye you have a friend who will step in to mind the kids for an hour or two once or twice a week? Or perhaps a family member? If your kids are out at an after school or sports club, perhaps you can use this time for your own activities? Don’t pass up the opportunity to grab to yourself those times that the children spend with their father out of a misplaced sense of guilt either. While you’re running around making beds, doing dinners and helping with homework, do you think he’s wasting his time sitting at home feeeling guilty about not being with them? Even if he’s missing them, chances are he’s out doing something that makes him happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. And you should do the same.
Being a single mom is a juggling act, for sure. But you don’t have to keep all the balls in the air all of the time. Take a break, get out, feel better. Your kids will benefit from a happier, healthier mom, and your social life could improve too. If nothing else, you’ll have something to talk about other than work and children. Even your children will enjoy hearing about what you’ve been up to…it’s bound to be more interesting than you telling them about all the house cleaning you’ve done! A healthy work/life balance is worth establishing, and may not be as