“Kids are different today”The Rolling Stones – Mother’s Little Helper
I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today
To calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter
Of her mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way
Gets her through her busy day
Being a solo mom
I know almost everything about single motherhood. Fortunately, I was never left without financial support, therefore – almost. I was lucky enough to be able to read, write, blog, and create postnatal recovery courses during the child’s daytime sleep. Then he stopped sleeping during the day, but soon after a little burnout and endless searches, kindergarten appeared successfully. Read – diseases. And yet, it’s better with it than without.
However, today I’m in Spain. At the moment, school is here until 2:00 p.m., and now there’s also a long Easter vacation – 12 days. No one pays me for my or babies’ sick leaves and vacations, no one reimburses me for the time spent on the child, nor for the lost personal and professional time. With all the love for a child, it’s too much for one head to maintain mental health. The resource is needed not only for constant monitoring and distractions by the child, but also for inventing activities for him. Not to mention dreamy silence, freedom of movement and other wonderful things.
Being a single mother is, of course, a superpower. During this journey, you gain skills that others only dreamed of. So, when a few years ago I organized a “business school” for mothers in the Carpathians, mothers who were not used to being without help suffered greatly, while I, on the contrary, simply enjoyed their company. I mean, everyone enjoyed, of course, just constantly “herding” your child alone requires an inhuman resource, and those who have no choice, sharpen this skill like lightning. But no matter how quick-witted and hardened that mother is, she can still crumble to pieces every second if she doesn’t take care of herself in time. How to cope with a child alone?
It should be easier for us in today’s world
Spoiler: it’s not.
Thank God, we are not in our 50s to 70s, and being the perfect woman and mother is no longer necessary, and mother’s little helpers are no longer reduced to a pastel-colored pill that helps to ignore depression, keep you in shape, and develop addiction.
However, there is information that women’s attempts to escape from stress in a narcotic way have not gone anywhere even now: women eat Prozac, Adderall (not registered in Ukraine), steal ADHD drugs from their children or banally drink.
This means that the level of stress is almost as high as it was then: the kitchen, cleaning and children have didn’t go anywhere, instead, as minimum as work has been added, relatives have disappeared from the horizon, at least in European society. And it seems as if you still have to prove to someone that you can do it all and even more. But no, there are real capacity and what is beyond it, there is time in which you cannot fit more than 24 hours, and there is an organism that is exhausted from inhumane treatment. But what can a single carer do?
How to survive as a solo carer?
Getting enough sleep is a top priority, and don’t even try to argue with that. Our health, adequacy and energy level depend on sleep. The rest is secondary.
Time to yourself
Time for yourself is crucial. Proper physical and mental health is the foundation without which there will be nothing. How can we spend this time:
- sports (we’re not talking about an hour in the gym, ok? light warm-up, basic exercises, even taking your ass off the chair for a few minutes an hour, walking, dancing by the stove, anything works better than nothing)
- sun and fresh air
- activities for the soul, creativity
- therapy (hygiene for the soul, which will never be superfluous, the main thing is to choose a therapist successfully
- meditation (5 min, ok?)
- socialization (friends, relatives, support group, courses, work, dating on the Internet, self-organized event, guests, etc.)
Keeping everything in your head requires inhuman effort. It’s good to have a pen, or ok, a phone, and regularly pour it all out there. What exactly?
- clearly prescribed reasonable basic routine (flexibility at the same time is not canceled, it’s just a support)
- clearly defined goals (this is also a support)
- clearly defined menu, meal options or places to eat / options for delivery
- reminders (this is an incredibly valuable tool not only for noting all events, but also for forming useful habits, like 10 squats, glass of water, meditation or kissing your kid, otherwise we never find time for any of it)
- stream of consciousness, gratitude journal, journaling, achievement journal, any lists (wish list, what brings you joy, etc.), budget is another great way to de-stress and feel self-worth
- a list of possible activities for the child
- a list of places where you can go in an emergency (trampolines for a child, mini-kindergartens, supermarkets with children’s corners, a place for your favorite snack, friends, whatever)
Delegate everything that’s possible
It’s worth making a list of your priorities. There’s no doubt that cleaning is a great way to relieve stress, and cooking is a wonderful creative processes, but everything should be in moderation. If it’s not a priority and there is an opportunity to delegate, it will free up a cloud of time. If you can delegate something else – even better.
There can be many things here:
- a tablet for the child (there can be games, and cartoons, and studies, and conversations with friends or relatives, – let’s get used to it, it’s already an integral part of life)
- a surveillance camera (if you really need to just go out not far away and be alone, be careful here and make sure that both the child and you are completely safe)
- earplugs (constant noise is stressful and makes it impossible to work if you work from home; there are silicone plugs with different levels of noise reduction, there are those that reduce noise well, while allowing you to monitor the child)
- it can also be things to make life easier: dryer or dishwasher, multicooker, smart watch, tracker, etc.
Time for the child and socialization of the child
Our socialization is super important, the child’s socialization is no less important. Fortunately, some activities can be shared with the child.
Babysitters, kindergartens, playdates, other moms, relatives – it’s great for everyone, if there are such options. At least one of them must be available. Options and flexibility are our everything. A cafe with playroom, hanging out with other families, joint sports, concerts, dances, painting, events where adults and children can be together and separately, playgrounds, etc.
Hold yourself in your hands as much as possible
There is a great article on what we control and what’s beyond our control. And let’s not forget that sometimes you just have to let go and surrender to the mercy of what the world, children, health or unforeseen circumstances. And that’s ok too. Let’s set achievable goals with the condition that neither we nor the world are perfect, and rest is also critical to being able to continue to be a person, a mother, a woman, a professional, etc.