Being a parent can be hard work. It certainly has its rewards and joys but sometimes one feels so tired. It is so important to take care of yourself, especially if you don't have a strong support system.
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You need to take care of yourself because if you don't your physical and/or mental health will suffer. Then you won't be able to put your best effort into any aspect of your life and that includes parenting.
How can you take care of yourself when you are short of time, money and support?
1. Stop trying to be superwoman Drop your standards and stop aiming for perfection. There can be pressure to achieve unrealistic standards in many areas of your life. You may need to stop reading magazines or watching television programs which promote standards which a mother on her own can't achieve.
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Accept any offers of help. Don't try to do it all on your own.
2. Simplify your life Make yourself a cuppa and think about ways you can simplify things. What is important to you? Don't worry about what others consider important. This can be difficult to do if you feel under the scrutiny of others but it isn't worth stressing yourself out trying to live up to standards set by others.
Find ways to make housework simpler. Perhaps storing children's toys in baskets makes tidying up easier. A sticker on your letterbox refusing junk mail means you don't waste time looking at lots of things you can live without. You also don't have a never ending pile of paper on the kitchen table.
3. Build up a support team Other single mothers can provide much support. I used to drop my son off at the house of a fellow single mum the three mornings a week when I had work. In return I looked after her two boys when she had work and her mother was unable to provide care. As she was a nurse and often had night shift I was home at that time.
Having mums with similar challenges can be so helpful and give you a real boost. Sometimes they will have useful tips. You may be able to swap toys, children's clothes and other things.
You may meet some mums with interests in common with you at the local playgroup. Playgroup can be lots of fun but if the first playgroup you try doesn't suit, try a different one if there is another available.
4. Spend time outdoors Time outdoors is good for you and for your children. Nature makes people happier. A simple lunch of sandwiches and fruit eaten as you sit on a blanket in the back yard is more fun than eating indoors. A plus is not having to think you should sweep the floor to get rid of the crumbs afterwards.
Going for a short walk with your children can be good for everyone. A young baby who is unsettled may fall asleep if you pop him/her into a baby sling and go for a stroll. Walking may be the last thing on your mind if you are tired and stressed out because your baby keeps crying but give it a try. It worked for me. Take notice of the flowers in gardens and look for birds as you breathe slowly and deeply.
Try to make time to sit outside on your own reading a book, picking some flowers or watching the birds. Even a few minutes can be relaxing.
5. Have something pretty to look at I love a couple of vases of flowers in my house. They lift my spirits every time i look at them. At the moment I have several vases of lavender and rosemary picked from my garden. These flowers didn't cost me anything and only took a few minutes to pick.
6. Enjoy a bath or shower If you don't have the time to soak in the bath, at least make your shower special by using a favourite shower gel. I love the lime one I am using at the moment and a while back I had a gorgeous mandarin scented one. Using a shower gel you reserve just for yourself makes you feel special and depending on the fragrance it can either relax or invigorate you.
Massaging some body lotion into your skin afterwards can be nice too and doesn't take long. You need to make yourself feel nurtured.
7. Listen to your favourite music Music can lift your spirits. Some music is relaxing and tunes with a fast beat can be good to listen to while you do housework.
8. Arrange for a break on a regular basis If there is someone who will look after your child or children for a couple of hours take advantage of the opportunity for some 'me time'. You may be able to leave your littlies at occasional care for an affordable price. This will give you time to catch up with a friend for a coffee and you will get to drink it while it is hot. You might even go and see a movie or do some op shopping.
It is not only the break which will be beneficial but knowing you are going to have some time to yourself.