By Patty from WorkingMotherLife.com
There is no doubt about it: the lives of single parents can be particularly challenging.
Being the sole provider and caretaker for one or more kids can be mentally and physically draining. While many full-time employees in the American workforce struggle to find an appropriate work-life balance, it can be even harder to make it work if you are a single mom.
Balance as a single mom is tough.
After all, when there is nobody else to take your child to the doctor or ensure that the fridge is stocked, laundry is clean and the meals are made, it can be hard to focus on work.
That’s why it is particularly important for single moms to take steps to achieve a work-life balance.
As a single mom, I found myself burnt out by the demands of a full-time job and taking care of my child. Trying to handle everything by myself — as a one-woman show — was physically and mentally exhausting.
So I decided to take control of my work-life balance.
Read on to learn how I did it — and how you can do the same.
Create a Support Network
Being a single parent can be isolating, and it is easy to feel like you are in this alone. People often want to help — but they can’t help if you don’t ask.
I was often reluctant to ask people for help, thinking that I could go it alone and do it all myself. But once I realized how tired I was, I knew that I had to rely on others — and things got a lot better (and easier!).
Start by creating a support network. It could be family that lives in your area, neighbors, close friends, or even members of your church or community organization. Ask them if they would be available to help out in a pinch — if you have a meeting that runs late, or if you need them to watch your kids so that you can run to the store.
Alternatively, form a babysitting co-op with parent friends, where you trade childcare. Doing this can relieve significant stress, and make your life that much easier.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Smart phones can be both good and bad in the fight for work-life balance. On one hand, they sometimes mean that you’re never truly off the clock. But on the other hand, they can help you automate tasks and get things done so much more quickly that you otherwise could.
For example, you can use different apps to track your expenses and manage your finances. This can help you slash your spending, or eliminate trips to the bank by allowing you to deposit checks via your phone.
You can also use your phone to order groceries, schedule appointments, review your kids’ homework assignments, and more. When it comes down to it, your phone can be a great way to take some of the stress out of your daily life and manage your time better.
Make Time for Self-Care
On planes, they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.
Sounds simple, right?
Yet as single moms, we so often fail to do that.
We put ourselves last, and we suffer for it. By making our mental and physical health a priority, we can actually be more productive at work and at home.
Think of it this way — our work suffers when we are tired, stressed, sick, or just plain run down. If we don’t take the time to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep, we won’t be at our best at work.
So even though it may seem counterproductive to carve out “me time” in order to create a work-life balance, it actually makes perfect sense. Making sure that you are operating at your peak and taking care of yourself are the only ways that you can truly achieve your best.
Have a Backup Plan
When you are a single mom, you are it — the one who gets called no matter what goes wrong. But in order to maintain a decent work-life balance, you need a backup plan. Things will go wrong, and you cannot always be the one to save the day.
Sit down and come up with a list of people who can be called in the event of an emergency. It might be a sibling, a best friend, a neighbor, or another trusted adult.
Having this list ensures that you are not the only person who will be handling life’s little emergencies — and that you can maintain order when things do crop up, as they most assuredly will.
Patty runs WorkingMotherLife.com – a site focused on figuring out the tough balance of working and being a single mother. You can also find her on Twitter @WorkMomLife.