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Solo parenting is a hard gig, be kind to yourself

I never thought I’d be a single mum.

So, when it happened, I was completely blindsided. My life, and my darling children’s lives, changed overnight.

As a mum, I’ve always felt like women are the project managers of the home. I know that seems like a controversial thing to say, but it’s the truth. Even for married or partnered mama’s, tell me who does the lion’s share of organising your family?

Who makes the doctor, dentist and optometrist appointments?

Keeps track of the school notes, makes sure the kids have a haircut before photo day and buys the teacher a Christmas gift at the end of the year?

At the same time, you’re washing the team jerseys from the weekend’s rugby game, trying to find your daughter’s lost library book and figuring out what too cook for dinner (again).

It’s exhausting.

And I’m not the only one speaking up about this. It’s called the mental load and it’s bloody heavy.

Are you being weighed down by the mental load?

In an ABC news article, Leah Ruppanner writes:

“Census data clearly shows Australian women spend, on average, five to 14 hours per week in unpaid domestic work, whereas men spend less than five hours a week. Women also spend an additional hour a day looking after children.

Yet these measures fail to capture the additional time women spend organising these daily domestic and childcare activities, the mental load. When you take over the organising of your family’s daily activities, you become the manager of your household and this casts all other members in a “helping” role.

It’s true, being the domestic manager of the home does give you a certain power and control in your domain. It’s also a role that carries additional responsibility without long-term benefit.

Ensuring all members of your family have clean socks and packed lunches is not a resume builder. It won’t help you get a job, nor does it lead to a higher salary or a promotion. If you’re using your mental energy thinking about this unpaid work, then one of the things you are not thinking about is actual paid work, and this is can have long-term economic consequences for women.”

In that case, what about single mums?

If partnered women are shouldering so much of the household project management, where does that leave the solo parents?

Single parents are among the most disadvantaged in Australia

Parenting is tough and when you’re doing it solo, that’s a hard gig. You have to be on top of everything. When you don’t have someone else in your household to fall back on for support, it’s even more important that you practice some kindness with yourself.

You’ve heard it many times, but I’m going to say it again.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

As a single parent, you probably need to practice slowing down and being kind to yourself most of all.

According to population experts at ID, single parent families are among the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups in Australia.

On census night in 2016, there were about 959,000 single-parent families in Australia, 82% of which were single mothers. 

“The median income for single-parent families in 2016 was $974 per week, compared to $1,734 for all households – so around half.

The image people may have of a single parent family is that of a young mother who is struggling to balance looking after children with a low paid job, living in public housing, or even homeless. And there’s no doubt that there are certainly many single-parent families who meet that criteria. 82% of all single parents are female, a figure which varies very little from place to place.

One third of sole parents and their children live in poverty.

But single-parent families come in all shapes and sizes.”

Single mum, share the load

The life of a single mum is naturally busy, but it’s important not to let it become too overwhelming. You may not believe it, but I promise you can slow down too single mum. In fact, you probably need it more than anyone.

Finding a support network is such an important thing you can do to look after yourself as a single parent. You may not have a partner to share the load with, but some of the following options might help give you a break and also reduce feelings of isolation:

·        Join a group to chat and have a cuppa with other mums while the little ones play

·        Schedule a play date with your children’s school friends

·        Swap child minding with friends so you get a chance to have some time to yourself and you can return the favour when they need a hand

·        Check out your local neighbourhood centre, PCYC, or library for low-cost or free family activities or children’s classes

·        Ask grandparents for help if they live nearby, they may be able to help with some babysitting or a few chores around the house to give you a little time to yourself

·        Accept offers of help! Now isn’t the time to be a martyr, graciously accept and use that time to recharge.

And if you do get a little free time to yourself, please try not to use it all catching up on the housework. Do something small for yourself each day, whether it’s a relaxing bath, flicking through a magazine, talking a stroll outside in the sun, or even laying down for a quick nap.

These small acts of self-love can help you recharge and better equipped to get through your day.

Over to you!

Even for married or partnered mama’s, tell me who does the lion’s share of organising your family?

Please comment below and let me know your answer.

Remember to also join me LIVE on Facebook at 11am AEDT Tuesdays, each and every week. I will be asking this question again and giving you the opportunity to nab a gorgeous monthly GIVEAWAY!

Thank you so much for being here and for adding your perspective. It means the world to me. Please share this post with someone you love, because they might be in need of some slowing fun today too!

Blessings, Hiddy xx

P.S. If you are simply visiting here and not already part of my growing and thriving tribe of slowing AND achieving women worldwide, you can sign up here and grab the ‘Slow Down In My Life Right Now’ freebie to get started slowing AND achieving with me today!