Let’s face it. We’re all busy. Sometimes, too busy. Finding a routine that works for single moms seems like a pipe dream most days. We’re more connected than we’ve ever been in terms of media, access, and convenience and that connection creates some real value in our lives, as we can get things done faster than ever before. However, many of us find ourselves busier than ever before, because of these same amenities. Routines are out the window and our schedules are crammed tighter. We’re running faster. We’re doing more. Add being a single mom into the mix and well…..we’re exhausted! Most of us are balancing an extensive list, such as car pool, homework, two jobs, school projects, dishes, laundry, difficult family dynamics, being a good friend, church attendance, soccer practice, school bake sale, and kisser of all boo-boo’s. So, how do you find a routine that works for your family, when you don’t have the convenience of an additional adult in the home to assist? Here are a few things we’ve found to be helpful to make routine:
- Don’t compare. As hard as this can sometimes be NOT to do, simply don’t do it. Your routine may be vastly different from others around you, including other single moms. Pray about the routine that will work for your family. Comparison becomes a trap that not only steals your joy, but also your routine. We’ll become so busy looking at someone else’s life, that we forget to manage our own.
Maybe you’re only able to have a sit down meal as a family once a week, as compared to the neighbors next door who do it nightly.
So what? That’s what works for you and we cannot wear ourselves out comparing ourselves to other families and moms. This is
especially important for a single mom. If we aren’t careful, we can fall into the trap of looking at what everyone else has, especially two-parent families, and beginning to internalize feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Those feelings have no place in your home. Sure, things may not be like you planned and they are likely much harder than you thought they would be, but it is what it is and there’s little you can do about it now, so embrace the truth of God’s word about your life. His word says you are the head and not the tail. He calls you chosen, more precious than rubies. He says he’ll never leave you or abandon you. In your weakness, he is strong. He promises rest and refuge and renewing and hope.
- Write down your task list. Habakkuk 2:2 implores us to “write down the vision.” Long-term vision planning and goal setting is very important, but so is short-term planning. If we aren’t clear about where we are headed daily and what needs to be done, then we’ll likely address whatever wheel (or kid) squeaks the loudest. We’re too busy to be able to afford not to be planned out. We recommend daily, weekly, monthly, and annually goals & tasks. Of course, there’s flexibility within the task list, as things change, but at least you won’t forget the things that need to get done regularly. While your task list will include dozens, if not hundreds of things throughout the year, here are some sample tasks that you may consider:
Daily – Pick up milk & eggs from the grocery store. Take 15 minutes for myself. Breathe! Pray without ceasing. Get in a 15-minute walk (even if its just around the grocery store)!
Weekly – Work on Tommy’s science project on Thursday. Wash bed sheets on Saturday. Write down one thing to be thankful for this week. Plan meals for next week.
Monthly – Work the family budget and compare it to financial goals. Assess what’s working with your schedule and what isn’t. Take some time for yourself – maybe an afternoon or evening where a friend can watch the kids.
Yearly – Schedule eye and dental exams. Plan for Christmas early in the year.
- Have fun. Yep, seems completely counter intuitive to stop and have fun when you are so busy, right? Wrong. Take the time to stop and smell the roses with the kids. Be intentional about inserting fun into your routine. The weight won’t seem so heavy. Have a dance party on Saturday, while you’re cleaning the house. Make a scavenger hunt out of washing the dishes. Sing karaoke while vacuuming. Take the time to have fun and truly laugh with your kids. It doesn’t matter whether your kids are toddlers and you engage in a tickle party or teenagers and you engage in a dance party, all kids need to have the time to just have some fun. And so do moms! Even if it’s hard. Even it you’re stressed. Even if the kids have been disobeying. Take the time to strengthen your relationship with them through a little fun.
- Find peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not the author of confusion. When He is leading and we can hear his voice, we will have a supernatural peace that accompanies it. As we consider how our task list should look, where we should live, what job we should work, where we should go to church, and so much more, we must walk in the peace that passes understanding. We must go where we are led by the Holy Spirit. That type of peace is a peace the world doesn’t understand. (See John 14:27). That peace is the type of peace that will dwell inside of us, even when the world seems to be falling apart. When we are walking in peace, we parent better. We are better friends and coworkers and sisters and aunts and moms. When we feel the presence of God’s peace about us, we find rhythm and routine that works for us, because we are being led into the perfect plan developed for us.
When you think of confusion, what are some words you immediately think of? Chaos? Unrest? Distraction? Heaviness?
Now, consider peace. What words might you likely use to describe peace? Calm. Quiet. Comfort. Light. Freedom.
Which would you prefer to live in?
- Recognize seasons change. There are times when we find rhythm and balance in our lives and things are flowing well and then, all of a sudden, things seem to stop working. The weights seem heavier than they did before. The to-do list seems insurmountable, even though the tasks haven’t changed. Life ebbs and flows. Seasons change. What once worked may not work now. Be flexible and open to change. Don’t be so hard on yourself. There are times when you’ll need more rest in certain seasons versus others. There will be times when attacks are facing you that didn’t phase you before. Cut yourself a little slack and be okay with change. Change is, after all, the only constant we face in this life (other than relationship with Christ, of course).
Single moms, you can do this. You will do this. Yes, it’s hard – some days even harder than others, but many have gone before you. And the most amazing news? God goes before you. He makes a way when there seems to be none.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com