Self care is critical to everyone, especially single moms who might not have the ability to set time aside to really regain that sanity. It can be a huge challenge to anyone. So today we focus on some simple ideas that single moms can do, while in isolation with kids, to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
Want to read more about things to support you being a single mom? We have a whole section on the blog
Self-Care is vitally important because if we are not keeping our glass full then we have no way of nurturing anyone else that matter to us, including our children. Nurturing can only happen if we nurture ourselves.
Single moms are being hit really hard during this pandemic because they already struggle to find time to do self-care, and now, it’s nearly impossible. Having kids with you 24/7 is very exhausting and can leave you feeling like you’re going to go crazy. More than anything, women need to breathe. They need to look themselves in the mirror in the morning and say, today I’m going to do the best I can for this family.
Moms tend to put the needs and health of their families above their own, whether in quarantine or not. However, quarantine may have heightened the already common lack of care some moms practice.
Considering you never know how long you might have to yourself, self-care ideas need to be flexible and adaptive. And while we can structure some time in, it doesn’t mean that we need to be strict about it!
Now if you don’t know, I am a single mom to a gorgeous 7 year old boy! Who is full of energy and ideas! I use many of the below ideas personally, but for me my personally I love grabbing some time alone time by popping into my craft room for a half hour while he plays with his Lego. This gives me some quiet time and gives him a good idea around boundaries and time out.
I also love doing dance parties at home! I think this is a great way to get moving with my son too! The most important part is that you do something that brings you ease and brings you joy, and to have fun discovering what those things are in the quiet moments you get.
Joanne Scott Ed.D, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health talks about this tough time;
Single moms are typically at risk of isolation, even without the quarantine restrictions that are currently in place. The most important thing that single moms can do to take care of themselves during this time
is to practice self-compassion.
This means recognizing and accepting that they are doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances. There may be times when their children get more screen time than they would like them to, or they may not be able to feed their children as many vegetables as they would like because they are unable to make it to the store. These are examples of when single moms can practice self-compassion.
Rather than say to themselves, I am a terrible mom, because my son is watching his third episode of Paws Patrol, they can say, this is really hard right now, and I’m doing the best I can to keep my family safe and well.
It is crucial for single moms to have at least a few trusted people in their life that they can maintain a connection to through video chatting, texts and calls. It would be helpful if they are able to buddy-up with another single mom who understands their struggles and who they can agree to check-in with throughout the day. Humans are wired for connection and this is a basic need that we all have. If they find themselves without anyone to connect to, many therapists are offering free or low fee groups during this time to support moms in isolation.
Connectedness through new ways of communicating
In this amazing digital age it is not terribly hard to connect with those we love though Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Zoom all of which have video calling options. Making sure you connect with others – even if it is not family members but friends is so important to hold onto some of your identity as a mum and person!
Reaching out to someone else is a great way to refocus our energy into reminding ourselves that we do make a positive impact and we can’t necessarily rely on our children to thank us.
Sticking to a routine to help carve out time for self care
Sometimes a routine can feel too structured and that is ok, but they can also help you map out and grab opportunities for some extra time to yourself. One of those ways is by putting kids to bed early so you can have a bit time to unwind.
Even just a bit of silence while drinking your morning coffee or reading a book before bedtime can have a beneficial and healing effect.
Ashton Lynne Haywood- Rondon, Founder and CEO of Women Who Werk talks about catching little moments of self care;
At this time, more than ever, women have to be persistent about
finding ways to take a break. Even if it’s 5 minutes every day to just
breathe in the bathroom without the kids, that counts as self-care. I suggest women make a list of the things they can do in the house to relax and then every day try to do something on that list.
Some days, you might get to do 2 -3 things on the list, and some days, you’ll barely get to one (and showers can count)! Carve time in your day to do self-care by waking up early before the kids wake-up or using the time after the kids go to bed. I myself am not a morning person, but I’ve learned that my sanity is a priority so I gladly go to bed earlier so I can wake up for self-care.
Self Care through Exercising
Alison Mitzner, MD is a board certified pediatrician, and received her medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse. Alison is a single mom of 2, family wellness expert, fitness and lifestyle enthusiast, blogger and writer who enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician and mom with other moms and dads, she talks us through some her top tips to keeping moving;
My top tip for what to do while quarantined as a single mom for my own self care and mental wellness is to keep exercising and keep moving. For me it makes a huge difference all around in my physical, mental and emotional wellness.
As busy as I am working full time, caring for my kids, and dealing with all us on my plate, I feel busier than ever these days now quarantined at home, and making the time for exercise for me is key. It is so important and makes a big difference every day even if it is just 20 minutes of a quick HIIT workout.
Exercise clears your mind, improves your mood, wakes you up so you are more mentally alert, boosts your metabolism, regulates your appetite, improves your sleep, and more. Best of all it makes you feel energized and increases the amount of energy you have for the day. I know I’m always more calm, relaxed and feel best when I squeeze in some exercise.
I find the morning is the best before the kids wake up and work gets started or things come up (as they always do) later in the day but will do anytime I can fit in. Schedule the time – even if it is 20 minutes. You can exercise while listening to the news updates or just have a dance party with your kids and fit it in whether by yourself, with your kids, a friend or online with group classes. Exercise not only helps with the above but it helps with stress relief and also strengthens immunity too.
Olga Zakharchuk, Mom and CEO at Baby Schooling, also talks to us about exercise in the form of stretching;
Drinking a full 8-ounce glass of water as soon as you wake up, and also spend at least 15 minutes stretching. Stretching helps loosen any tension you might be holding in your body, and also helps prepare you for your day.
If you can, try to wake up a few minutes before your kids do so that you can stretch in peace. It’s a good opportunity to gather your thoughts and think about the day ahead of you. Be sure to drink water as you stretch.
Many single moms forget to drink water in the morning because they are so busy with their little ones. Water is vital to our health for many reasons and so it does help to drink a full glass of it before reaching for a cup of coffee. Doing these two simple things can help put you in a much better mood and that’s important when you have little ones looking up to you.
Time out through breathing and meditation
Deep breathing is the most effective way of slowing down our Central nervous system so we can return our cortisol back to baseline and be better equipped to manage the next stressor.
We can access meditation online or through apps some that are available for as few as 5 minutes that we can also expose our children to no matter how old they and benefit from deep breathing and focusing on the present.
Oksana Korsakova is a single mom of a 7 year old daughter and runs Baby Manual; she talks us through what she does
My go-to self care tool has consisted of 10 min meditation breaks throughout the day. I personally use the Calm app, but there are many others. The cool thing is my daughter sometimes joins in! And even if she doesn’t, she now knows to give me peace and quiet during those breaks.
I’ve always heard of benefits of meditation, but struggled to sit still. The quarantine has given an excuse to slow down and develop this great, healthy new habit. I even purchased a year of subscription as a birthday gift for my girlfriend in UK, who is also a mom to an active toddler – she loves it and we can send each other stats on completed meditations, which is highly motivating.
Carley is a self-care coach, writer, and author of two holistic self-care books. She is the host of the You Time™ Podcast, and her work is featured on major media outlets such as FabFitFun, MindBodyGreen, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Elite Daily; talks to us about an awesome breathing technique;
A quick yet impactful practice a single mother can call on during
quarantine is breath work. Taking a few deep breaths following the 3-3-3 pattern will help her feel more relaxed, grounded, and level-headed, all while staying present with her children.
To complete the 3-3-3 breathing exercise, simply inhale through the nose for three seconds, hold for three seconds and exhale for three seconds.
Repeat this pattern three times. This exercise can quickly be completed on an as-needed basis throughout the day and create a significant positive impact on mom’s overall mental wellness.
Self Care through meal preperation and cooking
Over on our other blog, My Inner Creative, we have spoken extensively about the correlation between self care and meal planning. We had a nutritional expert talk to us about the value in meal planning how how this can help for self care!
Katie Dames and I am a women’s health consultant and relationship expert at Feely Feelings, who also talks about Meal Planning as food prep as a form of self care:
Eating healthily can be a challenge for anyone, especially single moms caring for their kids in isolation. So planning ahead is the best way to prepare yourself and your family nutritious food that will leave everyone feeling guilt-free and energized. At the beginning of the week, set aside some time to chop up veggies and cook in large batches.
Then, throughout the week when mealtime approaches, you can quickly throw something together which is both delicious and nutritious.
Self care through journaling or gratitude
Being intentional with your day can help foster some self care and appreciation. While the concept of gratitude during these tough times might be hard to come by, even the smallest piece is worth while.
Starting the day with a couple of questions to set a positive intention. For example: How can I show up as my best self this morning? Who and what am I most grateful for today? How am I going to cultivate beauty/positivity today?
Keeping a gratitude journal has been well researched and shown that gratitude has a number of benefits on our stress management and mental health. Even writing down 1-3 distinct and different things on a daily basis can make a positive impact.
Jennie Steinberg, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She owns a Los Angeles-based psychotherapy practice called Through the Woods Therapy Center and she talks to us about some key aspects of self care;
We are evolutionarily hardwired to notice the things that need to be changed, because they are action items. In all of this, it’s easy to lose track about the things you love in your life. Start a gratitude journal, where you write down 3 things every day that you’re grateful for.