Many working moms find it challenging to balance work and life while at the same time trying to maintain their sanity and be a good mom. The key is finding balance in your life, which will allow you to be more present for your family, and still succeed in your career.
Moms are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between being a good mom, or a successful career woman. This challenge is especially unique for women mothering solo.
The key to finding balance as a solo mom is to understand that you are not an anomaly. You are not alone. You are a successful woman who has found her own way to do things and do them well.
A solo mom can be defined as a woman who is raising her children without the help of a spouse or partner. This can mean different things for different people, but it typically means that the mother is the primary caregiver and often the only source of financial support.
Whether you work from home, are an entrepreneur, or a busy executive, finding balance is key to living a joy filled life. A life without guilt or shame. And one where you remain healthy to manage the enormous responsibilities you have.
The unique struggles of being a solo mom
Being a solo mom is one of the most difficult yet rewarding things in the world. Every day, you work hard to provide for your children doing your best to raise them. You are constantly juggling between work, family, and personal life.
The financial stress that comes with being a solo parent is one of the most common struggles although not as typical as some think. A lot of solo moms struggle with having a full-time job because you have to take care of your children during the day. It may be difficult to find adequate childcare during work hours.
As a result, you may work part-time or freelance jobs while trying to find time for yourself. But many solo moms have fulfilling careers or are successful entrepreneurs.
Solo moms are not strangers to struggles. But our struggles are unique in that we are parenting children without their father present in the household.
Some solo moms are totally responsible for the welfare of their children. Dad is nowhere to be found. Either because he has passed. Or he chooses not to be or is unable to be involved in his children's upbringing.
Whatever the reason you're parenting solo, the struggles you face are unique and real. Therefore, it's imperative that you find balance in your life to avoid burnout and the resulting health consequences.
What are the challenges of being a solo mom?
The challenges of being a solo mom can range from not having enough money to pay for your children's needs to not finding adequate and affordable childcare.
But they can involve undue pressure at work which pits you against choosing to take care of your health or fulfilling work priorities.
Finally, challenges can come when you have unresolved issues that seep into your life and hinder your ability to parent effectively. Challenges like not getting enough sleep because you lay awake worrying about the future.
One area that unresolved issues fall into is your relationship with your children's father. If you can't communicate effectively with a co-parent then you will have challenges with parenting as a solo mom. And consequently creating a balanced life.
What does finding balance mean?
Finding balance in your life doesn't mean everything is even. Balance also looks different for everyone. Life is not one size fits all. So finding balance will look different for you.
A balanced life means living in the moment. To be present and focused on what's happening right now. Without worrying about the future or obsessing about the past.
So decide what you want from life. Prioritize what's important to you. Then begin to put systems in place to unravel the chaos that puts unrelenting stress on your already burdensome life.
How can a working solo mom find balance in her life?
Finding balance in your life might seem like a pipe dream. But it's one way to protect your mental health. SoloMoms! Talk Podcast guest Kimberly Bell talks about ways she manages areas of her life in order to maintain balance. Kimberly is a mother of 4 adult children and a 6 year old. She's also the grandmother of 6 and has a full time career.
Given the enormous responsibilities Kimberly faces, she recognizes that maintaining a balanced life is key to creating the life she wants. It's worth listening to her story to see if something resonates with you.
How do you bring balance to your life?
As difficult as it sounds you can bring balance to your life by being more aware of who you are as a person and a mother.
I prefer when my students own their results. I can't tell you what's important to you but I can show you how to develop a plan of action using your own wants and desires.
Create spiritual well being
My #1 recommendation for bringing balance to your life is to develop spiritual well being by putting God first in your life. It's not about religion. It's about trusting the only being who has total control over everything.
When you choose God to be your source, your protector, your provider many challenges you face become bearable because you no longer feel alone.
Read the Bible daily. You'll find many answers to your questions about God and life when you spend time reading the word. Sometimes the very answer you're looking for will present itself when you least expect it.
Join a group. Join an online group where you can talk about what you read. Try different ones to see which one fits your life but find one that truly loves God and his people. (I find groups with older Christian women more helpful for me). That way you'll find support and encouragement when you need it. You may also find that you have more to offer than you originally thought and can help someone in your group.
Talk to God. Prayer is talking to God. You don't have to be always on your knees although sometimes that feels so right. (I talk to God while walking or just washing the dishes). A healthy Christian life requires open communication with God. You will find comfort in knowing you have that relationship that no one can interfere with.
There are so many other benefits to having a personal relationship with your Creator. Imagine a moment that despite life's chaos your mind is stable and your heart is at peace.
Finally, if you're struggling with your faith consistently doing these three things will help you. So will checking out Faithbox where you'll find resources to help you on your journey.
Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Create your own boundaries
How do you create boundaries when so many people want your attention? You just do.
Learn to say no. Sometimes you just have to say no to everyone and everything. Maybe it's no to extra time working or no to a child who can't seem to get their act together. Or maybe it's family members or friends who always need you to do something for them. You don't need to lose those relationships. But you will need to say no to maintain your mental health.
Create boundaries around your personal relationships especially with the opposite sex. Maybe it's a special someone in your life who needs to understand your personal need to develop a sense of self. It may be necessary to end the relationship so you can find that balanced life you crave. At the very least communicate your needs and desires. If they want the best for you they will support you. This is a good time to examine that relationship and consider how healthy it is for you. Dr. Roberta Shaler explains how to detect red flags in a relationship.
Use the first 30 minutes of each day doing something uplifting or encouraging like praying, journaling, or exercising. It could be something as simple as deep breathing or taking a long shower. Take a moment for yourself. If the kids are up and they can be by themselves for a short time, let them know mommy needs a few minutes. Tip: Tie a scarf around the knob of your bathroom or bedroom door. They'll come to respect that time. They will also grow to realize what self care looks like both for you and themselves.
Reframe the role of work
It might sound easy to say stop worrying about your job. I know it's hard. I've cried many nights wondering why I have to work somewhere I was treated so badly.
But look at work as a service you're performing. A service you get paid for so you can live life on your own terms.
Imagine your employer as your client - because they are. The people you work with might feel like family members but they're not. It's probably why it hurts so bad when they do something to harm us. So look at work for what it is...a way to support yourself and your family.
Treat your boss with kindness even if he treats you badly. This will become easier as you become spiritually strong.
Perform your work to the best of your abilities. Be fully present when you're at work as much as possible. This can be a struggle especially if your kids are younger or there's an issue involving them.
Leave work at work. Sometimes this is easier said than done and harder to do if you have a high level job in the United States. But as much as you're able to turn off work both mentally and practically. By making yourself unavailable outside work hours you teach your manager and colleagues to respect your personal time and lower their expectations that you're available for work 24/7.
Turn off work phone
Don't check emails
Spend some time between the time you get off work and the time you get home to decompress. E.g sit in the car for a few minutes or walk to the next bus or subway stop.
Find time to rest, relax, and recharge
Time to rest and recharge should come as naturally as going to work. Make taking vacation mandatory for you. Even if you work at home. Even if you can't afford to go away. Make wellness a big part of your life.
Take an extra long weekend every now and then - sleep in at least one of those days.
Take vacation time at least once per year - use this time to bond with kids or find other ways that bring you joy.
Prioritize self care otherwise you'll be no good to anyone. This post has several ideas on how to practice self care for your mental health and spiritual well being. Make self care a being instead of one more thing you have to do.
If you can take a weekend away to relax by yourself or with friends. Ask someone to take the children even if only overnight. If there's a co-parent involved maybe you can get away while the children are with him. If the relationship is cordial, discuss your plans with him so your time away isn't fraught with worry.
Maybe use some of these times for health check ups and other health related care. Don't forget those annual checkups. Being a working solo mom could mean visiting the doctor for yourself involves rushing to and from work during the day. But you can choose a time of year (I use my birthday) to schedule your health check ups, getaways, or spacation.
How to get along with yourself as well as your kids
When you are mentally strong it's a lot easier to get along with yourself as well as with your kids. Living a balanced life depends heavily on your relationships. Especially your relationship with your child.
Help them recognize when mom needs time to herself. Develop better communication with your children. Help them to understand you as a mom. Talk to them. Sometimes being a parent can feel like endless transactions. You feed them. Clothe them. And make sure they are well. But don't forget to talk with them. And listen to them as well.
Give each of your children a place on the team - assign them a chore. Children love to help mom. Especially when they are young. But it's never too late to give children responsibilities so they feel a part of the team. Solo mom Dana Malstaff (28:40) explains how to involve your children in running your household. It benefits them because they feel like they're doing a big part to help you. And it helps you, mom.
Living a balanced life means you can stay sane in the middle of chaos. Chaos doesn't have to mean the absence of peace. In the midst of your storm you can have peace. Especially if you are spiritually aware of who you are.
Love yourself. When you have peace in your heart you can find space to develop a better sense of self. Your self-talk will change and you'll be less worried all the time.
Finding balance is a personal choice that you can develop from your own perspective. When you prioritize your own well being, you can develop the resources you need to create a more joy filled life for you and your family. You can create your own happiness when you focus on the priorities that are important to you.
By following these simple strategies you can find balance as a working solo mom. These strategies will help you approach life not feeling guilty about the choices you make as a solo mom.
There's no rush. Take your time. Celebrate each win. And live a balanced life on your own terms.
Need more inspiration and motivation? Download a free copy The Solo Mom Manifesto.