As a single parent, it's easy to fall into a rut of just 'maintaining' when you are overwhelmed by responsibility. You may be a single parent by choice, or you may have been through a divorce, breakup, or experienced a loss. Either way, you have a lot to deal with it. Perhaps your life isn't quite as you imagined it. Or perhaps you're having trouble figuring out how to be a parent and still make space for your own dreams, rest, and creativity. Single parents experience even more pressure to hold everything together than their partnered counterparts, and are particularly susceptible to burnout and the negative impacts of isolation and overwhelm.
Self-care may seem like a ridiculous luxury; something others can afford and you cannot. It's especially challenging to figure out to carve out time for yourself when help may not be readily available. It can be difficult to feel like you have choices rather than obligations. As a single Mum, I understand the limitations and challenges that are unique to parenting solo, and a sense of compassion and empathy informs my life coaching work for single Mums.
I am a big advocate of the importance of Self-Love & Self-Care. On my travel to India in April, I came across Happinez Magazine where I read a beautiful poem by Charlie Chaplin; 'As I began to love myself'. This poem really touched my heart. For years, I did not know what Self-Love was let alone practice it. I never knew the importance of it. My Mother didn't know anything about it so she couldn't teach me. When we moved in to our dream home in January 2014 and our life was finally as I always visioned it, I reflected on our life since we moved to the UK in 2008. I learnt that unless I started loving and accepting myself for who I am - my authentic self, I wouldn't be true to my daughter, family and friends and clients. After all; I have to 'Walk my Talk'.
For years, I told myself I didn't have enough time or money to take care of myself. Being a Single Mum, my main priority has always been my daughter, then my business, then my home and IF there is any time left - I would think about myself - during this, I've felt guilty for not putting my daughter first all the time.
The realities of motherhood often make it difficult for mums to feel in tip top condition all of the time.
Sleepless nights, the juggle of home and work, and relentless domestic chores leave you feeling depleted of energy. However, by adopting some of these tips, you can begin to change your life for the better and start to feel healthier, happier and more beautiful than ever before!
A good night’s sleep and young children rarely go hand in hand. However, by allowing yourself more time to catch up on some much-needed zeds, the more likely you are to feel refreshed and focused the next day. It is recommended that women get around eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re in for a broken night’s sleep due to your feeding routine or teething, make every effort to go to bed earlier. I’ve known mums who hit the sack straight after their children’s bedtime just to catch up on much-missed sleep. If you find it difficult to actually sleep when going to bed earlier, settle down and relax by reading a book or lazily chatting with your partner. Avoid taking work to bed or watching too much TV, as this can increase stress levels and prevent you from switching off.
Most mums try to lose as much weight as they can following the birth of their child but this can have a detrimental impact on energy levels. Rather than dramatically cutting calories, opt for a healthier plate of food at meal times and snacks. Ensure you take the time to sit down and enjoy your meals, rather than eating them around your other tasks. Balance your nutrients so you are getting a good boost of vitamins and minerals; vital to maintaining focus and motivation. Eating healthily is especially important for breastfeeding mums. If you have older children, eating healthily will encourage them to do the same. Don’t forget to top up on Council Pop: drinking plenty of water helps you maintain a healthy body, clear skin and a focused mind!
My articles this month have focused on self-care and taking time out to exercise is a great way to enjoy essential me-time and reinvigorate your body and soul. However, you don’t have to get a gym membership to fulfil your exercise needs, you can get plenty of exercise when you’re with your kids. You might be lucky enough to have a Mums & Buggy exercise class in your area or you can simply catch up with your friends with a walk through a local park. Walking your children to school is a great form of exercise, and having to dash when you’re running late helps all the more!
Many mums rely on a good network of supportive friends to share stories and parenting tips. Unfortunately, some people do not positively enhance our lives. Sometimes, friends can be continually negative about their situation and constant doom and gloom can impact on your outlook and the way you view your life. Some people get a kick from making other people feel small. If you find yourself with these sorts of people, continual negative influences and opinions can leave you feeling drained and devalued. Try to step away from such black clouds that tend to hover around when you least want or need them. Instead, try spending time with positive people who share your interests, values and opinions. Don’t feel you have to stay stuck in a rut with negativity: you always have a choice about the people with whom you spend your time.
Invest In Yourself
You may have enjoyed a wealth of hobbies, interests and activities before you started a family. Welcome these pleasures back into your life so they can reinvigorate you and reawaken your lust for life. If you have returned to work, decide how to achieve your best work/life balance, especially if you want to progress your career or achieve some work-based goals. Investing in your personal interests and goals will enable you to become the woman you truly want to be.
Doing all of these things will give you the energy you need to focus on you. Once you have introduced these elements into your life, you will start to notice how uplifted you feel. Your appearance will probably change and seem much more like the old you. If you are enjoying a healthier diet with more sleep and exercise, your hair and skin will become radiant. You will start to glow, which will inevitably give you the confidence boost you need to go out there and achieve your lifelong goals!
My Wellness and how I stay Healthy - on a budget
But with time, I learnt that to be able to look after others, I needed to look after myself first. By caring and putting myself first, I will be able to give more of myself, in a happier and healthier way.
If you have been on a aircraft, I am sure you remember their safety demonstration where they say; "If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your oxygen mask on first, and then assist the other person." This is how you should think when it comes to daily life - put yourself first and then look after others. If you are not making yourself a priority by looking after your health and well-being, how on earth will you be able to look after loved ones when you have no energy?
Thankfully, through various trials and errors during the past few years, I've found some budget-friendly ways to include wellness in my life and hopefully set a good example for my daughter. I hope some of these ideas will be helpful and useful to you:
I love flowers and buy a bouquet every week. My favourite is Peonies, but as they are seasonal, I buy tend to buy Lilies, Carnations, Freesia and Alstroemeria.
I have always wanted to get into meditation, but never been able to actually sit down and do it (I am not able to sit quietly and quiet my mind). Then I discovered 'Guided Meditation' which I found more doable and enjoyable.
My daughter and I are passionate about cooking and healthy eating, which is the inspiration behind 'Passion for Food'. I plan our meals on a Sunday and then buy the groceries for those meals in the mornings on my way back from school runs.
INSPIRATION & VISION BOARD
I have a big Inspiration board on my wall next to my desk. On this, I stick favourite quotes, calendar, my goals, health check-list, achievements and more. The positive words and images remind me of who I am and who I want to be. On days I feel a bit low, I take a look at it and get reminded on how far I have come.
I start my day by listening to Gurbani (Sikh prayers), during breakfast I listen to something inspirational like Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, The School of Greatness etc. While Building my Empire, I listen to Jazz FM and at bedtime it's calming tranquil music.
BREAKFAST & ME-TIME
Every morning (weekdays), after school runs and grocery shopping, I take out about an hour to myself where I set the table, make some yummy breakfast and have a cup of Earl Grey tea while reading or listening to something inspirational.
MORNING & AFTERNOON WALK
I thoroughly enjoy my morning & afternoon walks. There's nothing more comforting and soothing than walking along the river watching the sun (or the raindrops falling on the ground), listening to the water flow and the birds tweet.
I love reading! My home library is constantly expanding - think I've got 500+ books and magazines (!) My latest crush and favourite magazine is 'Happinez Magazine'.
OK, I will admit it - I've got a sweet tooth (actually sweet TEETH!). Believe it or not, I treat myself daily to either chocolate or cake :)
HOME SPA & DETOX BATH
As a single mom, I rarely get two hours of quiet time, let alone a spa weekend. What I do have time for, however, is my weekly detox bath and SPA day at home with my daughter where we do facials, manicures and pedicures etc, which takes about 30 minutes.
There's something about 'Sex and the City' (and it's not what you think!) that makes it my favourite show to watch. I love the friendship between Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, their struggles and achievements, their relationships, careers (the list is VERY long).