Whether it was an insane amount of school, training with the Army on the other side of the country, and now a deployment, my husband has constantly had to be away from the family. While he still is a very intentional and amazing father and husband, this career path has left me as a Solo Mom the majority of the time.
While I still have days where I both look and feel like a chicken with its head cut off, the last six years and four daughters have led me to a few keys things that help me keep a general sense of thriving.
- Overly prepare for more stressful moments.
If you’re new to being a solo mom, it might take two or three weeks of having some self awareness to recognize what your personal stressful moments are. If you’ve been a solo mom for a while, you can probably list them out easily. My top three are easily school mornings, getting ready for church, and bed time.
Once you know when your stressful moments or triggers are, think of how you can prepare for them before they happen.
For school mornings you can use the same method I love and learned from Jordan Paige from FunCheapOrFree.com
(she has the BEST tips on IG and YouTube). Prepare everyone’s backpacks and outfits the night before and make a bulk breakfast one day a week so everything is fast and easy in the morning.
For church mornings, I not only get as much prepared the night before, but I have activity books and special quiet toys the kids can only play with at church so they stay entertained. Pinterest has all sorts of quiet book options, or easy toys you can put together (check out my Pinterest for ideas here https://www.pinterest.com/thewaitingwarrior/boards/) The options are endless, just stick to the principle of making the entertainment (food and snacks) something they only get when at church (or the doctors office, etc).
For bed time I had to take a huge humble pill and realize that I am not as patient of a mother as my pre-child self thought. With three rambunctious and young girls (and a baby this time around too) I’ve learned to turn to two tools.
1. A constant and never changing routine. I’m talking we have a gospel discussion/scripture reading, do jammies, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, give hugs and kisses, mediation, sing three songs, and say goodnight every single night. No changes, same order every night. It sounds super rigid (at least that’s what I thought when we first started it about a year ago) but it’s crazy how much smoother bed time has become. It’s not perfect, but there are less fights and stress because everyone knows what is happening and to expect.
2. Meditations. I mention them above in our routine and I wish I could properly express how much I love this part of our routine. I’m not a big hippy or a crunchy mom, but man do I believe in the power of kid’s mediations. I know there are a lot of different resources out there but I can’t sing the praises enough of Simply Sadie Jane’s Kid’s and Teen’s Mediations.
We listen to and love all of them but the Kid’s Bedtime and Kid’s Nightmare’s meditations have forever made my solo mom life easier.
Whether you use my suggestions or not, just be aware of what times are hardest for you and then over prepare to make it as smooth as possible.
2. Decide what your priorities are
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last six years of being a mother is that there is no such thing as balance. Being a nurturer and mother is a full time job. Being a home maker is a full time job. There’s no way to be perfect at them both. Then there’s getting the hours of sleep doctors recommend, exercising four days a week, serving your community, eating healthy, taking care of yourself and your husband. There just aren’t enough hours in a day.
But, we can set our own priorities for our different times and seasons and make sure those priorities are taken care of. When we do that, we are able to lay our heads down at night peacefully knowing the important things were taken care of.
For more thoughts and ideas on how and why we should set our own priorities check out this podcast episode
3. Remember you are NEVER alone
I wish your sweetheart could be around more. I know how exhausting it is to be taking care of kids solo for any length of time. I know how desperately your heart longs for something different at times because frankly, you don’t want to do this alone.
While I don’t have a magic wand I can wave to magically make it so our warriors could serve our communities and country and still be a helping hand at home all the time, I do have a very powerful promise: You Are Not Alone. Whether you have met and found them in your local community or not, there are other women feeling and experiencing so many similar things as you. There are listening ears, shoulders to cry on, babysitting swaps to be made, and friends to connect and laugh with. Under no circumstance should you sit at home and feel alone in this.
It may take getting out of your comfort zone and talking to a neighbor, going to a unit family event and talking to new people, going to church, or volunteering somewhere. Your tribe is out there. At the very least I am here and willing to help and listen!!
4. Get a constant babysitter (Alison’s podcast episode: Don’t wait until you are at a breaking point; stay sane and healthy by constantly giving yourself a second to breathe).
It took me years to admit to myself how much I needed this. For some reason I had this idea that I was failing as a mother and military wife if I needed a babysitter on a regular basis. In my silly head, babysitters were for date nights, and that’s pretty much it.
https://gifer.com/en/1C8cGiferI guess I should consider myself lucky that it only took me six years instead of a life time to learn better. Now that I know, I feel the responsibility to give you permission too: Get A Babysitter. Since I feel like Alison from The Alison Show lays everything out better than I could I’ll refer you to her awesome podcast episode all about childcare here (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/awesome-with-alison/id1191721368?i=1000436352152) and leave you with this huge plea:
DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE BROKEN TO GET HELP WITH YOUR KIDS.
Whether you need to swap with someone for a few hours a week or pay for a nanny, your sanity and health matter and there is nothing wrong with having someone help watch your kids.
I hope this is helpful and at least sparks some ideas on how you can make things work for you and your family. You deserve to thrive and not just feel like you’re barely getting by every single day. Nobody wants to be, or should be, the headless chicken everyday. I’m cheering for you friend!