10 Powerful Mental Health Tips for Single Moms
Staying mentally healthy as a single parent is not easy, and no one will tell you that it is. It takes a village to raise a child, much less multiple children. In the modern world, single moms are often expected to be that entire village by themselves. This creates a pretty incredible amount of stress in the average single-parent household, whether you're raising one child or many on your own. From managing the finances to dealing with daily 'adventures' in child-rearing, it's important to keep yourself balanced so that your children grow up to be happy, well-balanced young adults. Of course, this is easier said than done. That's why we're spotlighting ten powerful mental health tips for single moms to keep things under control and start feeling good in your day-to-day challenges.
1. Show Your Love and Affection
The first step toward daily mental health is just remembering to be affectionate. You know that every single day of work and parenting is dedicated to your children's happiness. But it's often difficult for your child (and even you!) to feel that warmth at the end of a tough day. The best way to make everyone feel happier each day is to share hugs and positive words.
Always show encouragement in response to grades and art projects. Say the words "I love you" and give regular hugs. Say something positive about your day each night at dinner, and encourage your kids to share something positive about their day, friends, or siblings at each dinner along with you.
2. Set Aside Some Personal Quiet Time Every Day
As a single mom, the idea of "me time" can be laughably scarce. Don't worry about taking a whole hour to yourself every evening for a bubble bath if that just doesn't fit into the schedule. But do take a few minutes every day for quiet personal reflection. Maybe it's first thing in the morning before the kids are awake, or just between their bedtime and yours.
Make a cup of tea, sit down, and enjoy the quiet for just a short time each day. Be yourself, practice mindfulness, or just focus on relaxing every muscle in your body for that short and blissful amount of time. This is one of the mental health tips for single moms that gets easier as it becomes a routine.
3. Take Care of Your Body
An uncared-for body is a tired and stressed-out body. The last thing you need is your own personal energy flagging when you need it most. So remember to take care of yourself as well as you care for your children. Of all the mental health tips for single moms, this broad step includes a lot of little adjustments. When you shower, take time to treat yourself with moisturizing soaps and a little relaxation. When you eat, make sure you're eating healthy (for a grown-up — not just kid foods) and getting just enough exercise to keep up your energy. Go to sleep at the same time every night. Also, make sure your bedroom is a dark, quiet, relaxing place to encourage good sleep.
4. Think "I Can Do This"
Encourage yourself to persevere, even when the odds seem stacked against you. You can rise to the challenge. Even if you are also facing a personal disability, your human capabilities are less limited than you may feel.
Embrace positive self-talk and tell yourself that you're up to the challenge. Even when you're about to scream with frustration or cry from the stress, tell yourself that you can and will tackle whatever lies ahead.
5. Enforce Rules With Your Kids — and Explain Why
Lay down the law at home, but not as a tyrant. To really succeed with any mental health tips for single moms that involve your children, start with an explanation. It's important that your kids understand not just what the rules are but why the rules are. Make sure your children speak to you respectfully (with inside voices) and avoid making a mess not just because you say so, but because respectful speech shows love and messes take time to clean up.
Explain that homework must be done right away so it's never forgotten. Explain that milk goes back in the fridge so it doesn't spoil. When your children understand why the rules are rules and treat you like a partner in keeping a peaceful home, your peace of mind will also stabilize.
6. Embrace Time-Outs for Kids and Mom
Time-outs are an essential element of parenthood, and not always for the reasons you might think. Time-outs are a good compromise between tyrannical discipline and just taking a breather. Teach your kids that time-out isn't always a harsh punishment but rather an opportunity for everyone to calm down. If your kids are bouncing off the walls or getting too upset in a disagreement, use a time-out as a take-a-breath situation. You can even teach a little meditation instead of just sending your kids to a corner or to their room.
In fact, you should also consider mom time-outs. When you're about to lose it, it's okay to take a moment to yourself for a breather. You can also tell your kids that it's time-out time because you can't handle the energy they're putting out. Children who are working with you may even put themselves in 'time-out' when they get stressed out in a situation.
7. Find Reliable and High-Quality Childcare
Childcare can be one of the biggest challenges for single moms. Don't rely too much on your oldest child or on unreliable people in your life. Never lean on new romantic partners or even new friends for childcare if you don't know and trust them yet. Instead, try to establish one to three reliable sources of childcare that you can really count on. Then you can stress less when your children are in the care of these known and trusted adults.
8. Develop Adult Friendships and Confidants
Single moms often feel isolated with no one or too few people to talk to about their real, adult concerns. It's important to have at least one person you can be fully honest with. Sometimes, you need to pour out your stress without risking being overheard by the children. Whether you need to stress about finances or complicated issues with your ex, a good friend and confidant is essential to your mental health.
If you don't have a close friend or relative, it may even be worthwhile to develop a relationship with a therapist who will listen and offer good advice.
9. Accept Your Limitations
While you are telling yourself, "I can do this" every day, it's also important to accept and embrace your real personal limitations. For example, if you are diagnosed with depression, it's okay to accept that you'll be fighting low energy and a low mood nearly every day. If you know you always run late, give yourself an extra 10 to 30 minutes for every appointment. If you can't stand loud noises, be firm and honest with your kids about turning up the TV volume.
Everyone has personal limitations, no matter how many mental health tips for single moms you can add to your daily routine. Physical and mental conditions are a good place to start. But your energy reserve and personal preferences also play a role. When you embrace your limitations, it becomes easier not to beat yourself up over them. Then you can make practical plans to work around those limitations and still meet your goals.
10. Keep Your Sense of Humor About Everyday Challenges
Last but never least of our mental health tips for single moms, remember to laugh. Keeping a good sense of humor over life's little (and big) challenges can be the key to mental health versus making yourself overwhelmed with stress. When your kids color the wall with crayon, make your first response to laugh it off. If your favorite blouse is ruined when your child tries to do laundry, laugh first, explain second, and don't just make time for anger. When your child throws a fit over the wrong juice box, teach them to laugh off the little stuff along with you.
Rage, fear, and tears are all bad for you and the kids. When your first response is humor, even sarcastic humor, you will find your stress level dropping. Your kids will embrace the idea that life's challenges can be laughed off. With that initial stress dealt with, you can jump straight to the 'fixing it' phase of any problem together as a family.
Keeping yourself healthy while raising kids alone may not be easy, but there are many ways to make it easier. Use these mental health tips for single moms to enhance your mental health at home and work while tackling the incredible job of being a successful single mom.