Work-Life Balance Tips for Single Mothers
Striking the right balance between work and home is essential for most parents but when you’re a single mom, it’s even harder to achieve. Although it’s not impossible, you may have to work at it.
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to make it easier on yourself to balance everything you need. Some of it you can do on your own, while the other parts may involve asking a friend or co-worker for help.
Empire Resume understands the struggle that devoted and hard-working moms have. We know what it takes to prioritize in order for single mothers to reenter the workforce. We put together these work-life balance tips to help you grow your career and manage life at home.
Set Reasonable Expectations
It’s impossible for you to do it all. With very little help, you won’t be able to juggle absolutely everything every day. That’s okay. You need to set expectations with both yourself and your workplace.
Talk to your manager about needing to miss a few hours of work every other month for conferences at the kid’s school. Ask if you can leave work an hour early to accommodate school pick up but be willing to make up those hours from home in the evenings.
This is especially true if you’ve been at your job for a while and you’ve recently become a single parent. Even as a private person, sharing this information with your manager will ensure that they know what to expect from you and they may ask how they can help.
You also need to be easy on yourself when it comes to household chores. Having a clean house is nice, but missing out on time with your kids because the floor needs to be swept is something you’ll have to find a balance for on your own.
Apply to Family-Friendly Workplaces
Some companies understand the need for work-life balance, and others aren’t as forgiving. If you know you need more flexible working arrangements in order to be present for your kids, look for companies in your area that have that same attitude.
Many companies emphasize the importance of a well-rounded employee and believe you perform better in the workplace when they are also supportive of your home life. Check LinkedIn for any connections you might have at the company and ask for their experience.
You can also look for signs of an accommodating company in the interview. Your interviewer will likely let on to their expectations for your presence at work and you can glean some of that information in their reaction to you talking about your kids.
Control Your Schedule
Your schedule may be a bit of a moving target with work, school, and split custody. If your workplace can offer a more flexible schedule to help you out, it’s definitely something to look into.
Another way you can help yourself is to merge your home and work calendars so you never schedule a mandatory meeting during one of your child’s games. It’s much easier to avoid conflicts and plan things out in advance if you have a complete picture of where you always need to be .
Setting up a distraction-free home office layout can also help you manage some of the extra work that you can’t always get to while in the office. This will help you when it comes time to ask for that much needed
Look for Hidden Benefits
When offered a position, a lot of people are so excited at the prospects of having a steady paycheck and stable career that they quickly accept and fail to investigate the company’s employee handbook.
Many companies have benefits like childcare facilities at a reduced rate or flexible schedules. Some of these you’ll work out with your direct manager while others may be available to you through human resources or another department.
And while the company’s 401(k) may be enticing, be sure to focus on your family and evaluate your childcare needs. Check to see if your employer provides any of these added benefits: childcare subsidies, on-site childcare, flexible employee schedules, predictable employee schedules, back-up childcare assistance, and flexible childcare spending accounts.
Make Mornings Easier
Often, one of the most stressful things about doing it all yourself is that you can’t seem to get out of the door on time in the morning. Starting out your day rushing around just adds to your stress, when it could be a lot easier.
Make lunches and set out clothes the night before. Have everyone shower, pack your purse, your briefcase, or the diaper bag and have everything ready to go. You can even prep breakfast by setting out cereal, bowls, and spoons.
Mornings should be stress-free and by getting everything ready the night before, you can ensure that everything runs more smoothly and you won’t have to worry much about it.
Seek Out Quality Childcare
The coronavirus pandemic shifted just about everything in life including your children’s childcare and youth programs. This put quite a damper on the way your child spends their time while out of school and away from their peers.
When your child isn’t with you, you should be able to use that time to focus on other things. It could be your job, household chores, or errands. Having someone you trust to watch your kids on a regular basis goes a long way to ensuring that you feel comfortable with where they are.
It’s critical to be a good employee as well. Your mind won’t be consumed with whether your kids are safe, cared for, or loved. You’ll know they’re happy right where they’re at so you can focus on what needs to be done.
Create a Network of Support
You’re not in this alone, and you should feel comfortable asking for help when you need it. It’s much easier to feel like you can ask for help when you have people in your corner who are willing to lend a hand.
Having quality childcare throughout the week is one thing, but when unexpected things come up like a meeting running long, you need last minute transportation solutions to get you through it.
Talk to family, friends, and neighbors in your area if they’d be willing to help you at the last minute if you ever needed it. It’s easy to plan things in advance, but when you need someone to be there in a pinch, prepare for that now so you know the option is available if you need it.
You can also hit up people in your personal life, find a babysitting co-op, or connect with a mom’s group in your community to see if there are any options that will make your life easier and less stressful.
Not only will having this support system reduce stress, but it can make you feel less lonely. While being a single mom can be isolating, you won’t feel so alone if you know you have a group of people you can count on.
Manage the Guilt
The best thing you can do is let go of your guilt altogether; however, as a mom it’s second nature. There will be times you simply can’t shake it but there are several things you can do to help manage it.
Don’t control everything. It’s silly to think that you can. Things will go wrong and you can’t possibly do everything by yourself. Coming to the realization that you are not superwoman will be quite freeing for you.
Spend quality time with your kids. The best way to get rid of that guilt is to take a break from all your other obligations and just focus on the kids. Play a game, go for a walk, run around at the park, and just let go of life for a while.
Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job and find the solutions that work best for you. You won’t always get the laundry done or keep a spotless house, but you can ensure that you’re being the best mom you can be for your kids.
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Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.