It's so easy to lose track of yourself with all you have on your plate as a single mother these days. The pressure that is placed upon you to "get it all done" plus some can be overwhelming at times. Let's be honest, it's not only the pressure of the outside modern world that makes you feel like you must get it all done; we do it to ourselves.
It's the reality of, if I don't do it now, who will? That is the area in which burnout is knocking on our door.
Through personal experience I am here to let you know, give you a permission slip if you will, that it's okay to not get it all done! Really, it's okay. We don't allow ourselves to feel this way 99 percent of the time because the well known "mom guilt" kicks in and tells us there is no time for that relaxing bath tonight because the laundry is piling up, the kitchen needs to be organized, the toys need to be put away. I'm telling you, the balance in your life needs to be adjusted and the quality you will feel will override the overwhelming pressure to be two people at the same time.
It takes time to change these well enforced habits you have placed upon yourself, but here are some easy places to begin.
1. Spend more time being present with your child.
This means putting down the devices, stepping away from the sink and not worrying about the laundry at this moment. Working a full day you only get a few precious hours with your child and the best gift you can give them and yourself is your presence. Don't sell yourself or your child short by playing trains and checking email at the same time. Growing up, our parents didn't have these devices to be distracted by, so imagine what it is like for your child growing up with a parent always looking a little black phone while talking to them. Make eye contact, be fully engaged and you will both benefit from the positive loving energy that is going on in the moment.
2. Let the laundry sit.
Don't doubt me on this one. Again this goes back to being fully present and making the most of each day. Having dedicated play and learning time with your child will reap more benefits for you than rushing around and doing laundry at 5 p.m. Find a few minutes in the early morning to get a load of wash done, and in the dryer before you leave. Don't worry about folding it until you have put your little one down. And if it doesn't get folded that day, I promise you will both be okay! Not to mention the fact that mismatched socks for your child are in. There is an entire successful sock line that are purposely mismatched for kids, and you can create your own by not stressing yourself out so much with getting it all done every single day. Kids like colorful feet and your saving money, time and gaining focused play with your child. Everyone wins!
3. Take naps.
Now while this doesn't usually work during the week, don't sell yourself short on the weekends! Whenever possible, make this a priority. Recharge, relax and unwind your mind in order to rejuvenate. Sleep is essential to keeping a healthy mind, body and spirit. More often than not I would rush around cleaning while my child was napping, and I found myself being extremely run down by the end of the day. Do not doubt the power of a cat nap if that's all you can fit in. Children need them and guess what, so do we. I can't tell you how many times I've heard napping is for kids. Well, it's not. Maybe they are smarter than us because they know they need to take a break to recharge! Sleep is a beautiful thing; make sure you make time for more of it in your life.
4. More water, more yoga.
Treat your body like the temple it is. Being fully hydrated at all times allows your body and mind to work optimally. Think of water as the gas to your vehicle and remind yourself that you always need to keep the levels full. Now with this fully fueled up body of yours, pull out the mat, find some grass or any calm space to stretch your beautiful body and allow your joints to open up through yoga. Anyone can pick up this practice, at any given moment and the benefits to be gained are boundless. Stretching your body through a peaceful flow is a gift to your muscles, joints and mind.
Put yourself first. I know this can be the single hardest thing to do. Naturally as a mother our brain is fully focused on our children at all times. But if you aren't well taken care of, how can you possibly care for another without eventually burning out? These four steps are just as important for your child as they are for you. So make it a priority to live a mindful lifestyle that will bring you both energy and happiness.
Live these steps together! Grab your water bottles, get your feet in the grass and make yoga a part of your daily focused play with your child. Remember to put the devices down and give the gift of presence. Stay hydrated, and stay in tune with your energy levels. Allow yourself to rest, to simply sit quietly even if you only have a few minutes. Make time to take care of yourself just as much as you take care of others. Think positively about yourself, for the thoughts we have contribute to our wellbeing. Don't allow negativity to take up space in your mind or body, the effects can be detrimental to your health.
You don't have to always get it all done, but you do have to be overwhelmingly kind to yourself and allow yourself the space to simply rest and enjoy life. Don't let burnout even start to blend in with your vision. Stay focused, stay vibrant.
And remember this little mantra each day; ready, set, refresh!