A friend of mine asked me the other day, ” Aggie how do you manage your time as a single mother with 2 kids?” How do you fit in work, exercise and still manage to keep it together with the kids.
Well where to start…..
2 Parent household
I once was in a 2 parent household. Ideally you both help each other to make it work. When one parent is at work the other has the kids and does some of the household chores. My babies never really slept through the night which meant by morning I was super exhausted and so when they were about 10months old I enrolled them into a family day care. This meant I could play catch up with the cleaning, laundry, the yard and cooking. Though it would come across as me sitting around the house doing nothing I still made sure my then partner didn’t have to do any household chores even dishes because he had to go out to work while I stayed home.
What most people do not realise is the role of a mother is a 24hr gig. Remember I was up all night and then all day only to then be up all night again. After a while I went back to work so that meant I had to make it work hey.
Its all about routine. Once the kids get the hang of this is how life is in our house it can sort of make tings some what easy. I was working night shifts so which meant my partner only had to soothe them back to bed if they woke up then with a 1yo it was still happening. She only needed a bottle and as they were early risers breakfast was the other thing before I got home. Working 1 hour away from work meant I would get stuck in traffic and so this is how lucky I was, My brother who lived in our granny flat and his wife would then watch the kids for about an hour till I got home. I would then get the kids in the car and drop them off at their respective childcares.
The night before I went to work I would make sure their lunches and clothes for the next day were ready and set out so nobody would struggle with finding things or making lunchboxes. After dropping off the kids I would then come home and try to sleep before the kids were due to be picked up. Have you ever worked night shift? You would know that sometimes once you go past that super exhausted state its hard to fall asleep and worse off when you know you still have to have dinner ready and pick up the kids. Did I mention tidy up the house too? I never knew where I got my strength from. I gotta thank the Man above because I was always running on fumes.
On days I was working in the afternoon and getting home around midnight I would make sure I left dinner ready for the kids and him and make the lunches for the next day. I would sneak into the house in order to not wake anyone up and then try and tidy anything that needed to so I would not have to do much in the morning. Morning time I would then feed the kids and drop them off, come home and do the same dance of dinner, laundry, house cleaning and yard. On these days he would feed them and do the bedtime routine which involved baths and teeth and hopefully story time.
1 Parent household
After I left my ex, it took a while to find the new normal. New environment, new routines. I tried to stick to the same ones like dinner, teeth and bedtime because that always worked well. My little people are early risers no matter what time they wake up so they need their 10hrs sleep for sure. As they get older you make things like clean up time fun. I would do things like, “lets see who picks up the most toys,” or something like “whoever picks the most gets to choose the bedtime story.” They would and still happily pick up their toys because then it does not feel like they are being made too but its a fun game.
I have also learnt to choose my battles. I cannot always follow them around with a dustpan and broom. They gotta be kids. My OCD had to be put in check. My 3.5yo even loves to make her bed. I make it fun as well. Try and get them to help me. Things like school and childcare lunches, I still make the night before. They tell me what they want and sometimes negotiations don’t always go well haha. Little miss loves to pick out her clothes for the next day before she falls asleep. I feel like I have a little teenager haha.
One of the biggest things that helps me a single shift working mum is routine. I have to follow it even when I am tired and or sick. I also do meal preparations. This started before I became single but I had to be vigilant after as most days I would come hoe tired and no dinner prepared. Now I don’t have that issue. It even makes it easy for my mum when she looks after them. Days that we have sports or other activities I work it out that I am not working during those times. Its amazing how employers can be so accommodating to single parents.
My little man does not get to miss hockey practice and matches on weekends. Worst case scenario my supportive family and friends step in. Even little miss has started liking hockey and took it up like a pro too haha. I even have time to do my exercises that is either first thing in the morning or in the evening. If the kids are up already well why not get into it. while dinner is on the stove go and have your HIIT session. You can even do it in the house or kitchen. You don’t always have to go to the gym. I am an amateur but have proven you can do it at home if you have the motivation and dedication.
At the end of the day, to be able to manage your time you have to have a routine you stick to. If you have to have a white board with the daily tasks do it. We know what they say about child bearing. You become so forgetful. Have a diary or some form of reminder. Above all pick your battles. Do not forget to take care of your wellbeing. I never used to but now I realise how important that is. If you have a supportive, helpful husband or partner even better because its teamwork. Them watching the kids while you shower 5 minutes longer than usual or go to have your nails or hair done, is not them babysitting. They are the parent too so they are parenting. They can pick up after the kids once in a while and it doesn’t take much for them to bath the kids when you are at work. Team effort. A statement my kids have been learning lately.