The best advice that I’ve received as a single mother is simple: take 10% of my day and reserve it for me. Not for laundry or dishes. Not for a trip to the grocery store or to catch up on housework. Dedicate 10% of my day to doing something I enjoy. It came at a time when I desperately needed it, and I laughed it off. In real time, 10% translates to about an hour and a half. I was raising two young daughters (ages 4 and 2) by myself, working fulltime and going to school. Finding that kind of time was impossible and being a mom felt like my entire identity.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually took this advice. I was taking the bus from work to my daughters’ school to pick them up and I realized I was ahead of schedule. The route to school went right past my house and I decided, on a whim, to get off the bus. I had a half hour to myself inside a quiet and empty house and I suddenly realized that the issue was not finding the time, it was finding out what to do with it. What did I enjoy? I didn’t even know anymore. So, I sat on the couch and turned on the TV. The show, “Judge Judy” was just starting. I sat for a half hour and watched the entire show, all by myself. And I enjoyed it. I wasn’t watching this TV show as a mom, but as a woman who could make choices for herself that directly impacted her own happiness. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like somebody.
After that, I consciously tried to find those little opportunities. Whether it was putting the girls to bed a little early so I could read a book or finding 10 extra minutes to take a longer shower than usual, I soon realized that those little snippets of time gave me the peace of mind I needed to regroup and tell myself that everything was going to be OK. I began to notice that, as a parent, I set the tone for the household. When I was stressed, the house felt chaotic. But, if I was calm and peaceful, my girls were happier and more at ease. I quickly realized how important it was to take time for me, even if it was only 10 minutes.
As a mother, it’s easy to feel like you have to be everything to everyone, especially when you’re parenting on your own. You may always be striving for that coveted “super mom” status. What’s important to remember is that you will accomplish everything you need to do in order to take care of your family—because you have to. What makes you a true “super mom” is recognizing the need to take care of yourself, even when you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions.
Incorporating this simple philosophy into my life has made me a better mother and woman. Being more patient and loving with myself has made me more patient and loving with my girls. Everyday life is no longer a series of tasks that need to be completed, but an opportunity for me to invest my strength, talent and passion into everything that I do. I now know what my time is worth.
Are you a single parent? If so, what advice can you give to best manage raising children on your own?
Liz Hanna is a Financial Assistant and single mother of two daughters. Her oldest, Elisa, is 21 and pursuing a college degree in Forensic Sciences. Her youngest, Carley, is 18 and on track to pursue a business degree. Both girls are honor students. Liz is from Hawaii and enjoys doing taxes, reading books, specifically urban fantasy and mysteries, and spending time outdoors and at the beach.