Whether they work outside the home, run a home-based business or stay home with their children, moms have a lot on their plate. They have the house to take care of, shopping, errands, home repairs, car maintenance, insurance, finances – you name it, they are either responsible for it or play a big part in the decisions regarding each one. Add in technology, incoming mail and emails, social media, coordinating kids’ activities, and the list goes on and on.
Some moms home school, and that is a challenge too. These moms have to keep on task and make sure education is on track and extra-curricular activities are abundant.
And then there are the single moms, of which I was one. A one-income family in today’s society provides less than enough income to raise a family, and with the increasing cost of quality daycare, it has become increasingly difficult for these moms to survive, much less thrive. Grandparents who could have cared for grandkids often live in other cities or in other states, or are incapable of caring for babies and young children because they have aged, so the “sandwich generation” finds themselves taking care of elderly parents too.
I was a single mom with two kids, had a full-time job and traveled at least three to four days a month. I look back now and wonder how I survived, how I got it all done. Somehow, I made it through, and I have two young adult children who are intelligent and prosperous to show for it, so I guess I endured the test of time.
Do I wish I would have spent more time playing with my children? “Yes” is undoubtedly the answer; but to the question, did I do the best I could at the time, “yes” is also the answer. I reflected back on this time and what things I did differently than some of my co-workers that helped my life run smoothly, and helped me be as efficient as possible so I could get more done in less time. Here are some lessons that worked for me:
Take care of yourself first. It doesn’t do you any good to wear yourself out, get stressed out and then get sick. That only makes things worse. For me, the only way that I feel like I kept my sanity was to be organized. Lots of unexpected things happen when you have kids, so the best way to combat chaos is to be organized and in control so that when things do get a little out of control, you are more prepared to deal with them. How you deal with life and its curve balls is how your kids are going to deal with life down the road. The skills and resources you utilize in supporting yourself raising your kids are the skills that they are going to learn to use in their lives.
Just Say No: Many women also have a hard time saying no and feel that they have to explain at length as to why they are saying no. It’s taken me half my life, but I pretty much have the word “no” down pat in my vocabulary. It takes some skill and practice in saying no nicely, but it is possible. Be aware of the things that you say yes to—if they are going to overload your already full plate and bring you to the overwhelmed state, then choose to say no. Choose wisely and consciously and don’t just say yes as a knee jerk reaction. Many women are nurturers at heart and always want to be helpful, but if it’s at the cost of their health or sanity, then it may be worth reconsidering.
Ask for Help: So many people are afraid to ask for help. They feel embarrassed or ashamed that life has gotten out of control or that they are weak or admitting defeat because they ask for help. I would suggest that this is merely ego talking and ego isn’t going to help you get through it; persistence and resourcefulness is. There are so many resources in our local community. I would encourage you to create your support system with friends, neighbors, teachers, other moms and support groups for moms in and around where you live. Outsource tasks like cleaning, decluttering and laundry, when it is affordable. Reach out and ask for help, and in return, you just may be helping someone else who is able to give at this point in her life because she was the recipient of help once herself. Don’t go it alone!
• Eat right and get as much rest as possible
• Have a healthy outlet for stress such as exercise or dance
• Create a support system with family, friends, co-workers and other moms
• Work errands and tasks into your everyday life
• Be as prepared as you can with grocery shopping, meal planning, and meal prep
• Get up just a little bit earlier to give yourself added time for unexpected delays
• Delegate tasks to young children as they get old enough to handle them
• Assign chores to older children and don’t try to do everything yourself
• Schedule everything
• Don’t be afraid to say no
Sharon Toston is the owner of Command Your Clutter. She personally organizes business professionals in the Tampa Bay and surrounding areas. Whether it is in their home or office, she can get them organized, working more productively and efficiently and be less stressed so they have more time to enjoy the things they love. Sharon is best known for helping solo entrepreneurs get prepared to step to the next level in their business. To find out more information about her services, please visit her website at www.commandyourclutter.com, read her blog at www.tampabayorganizer.com.