What did I just sign up for?
Being a single parent is overwhelming. No matter what anyone else says, it takes a lot of work. Some days you’re lucky just to squeeze in a bathroom break. What about preparing a fancy meal for yourself? Try a hot pocket in the microwave. Is that the same shirt you wore yesterday? Who cares? And of course, the big one – sleep. You can’t turn over to your partner and ask them to feed your infant. It’s all on you. And if you are anything like me, my favorite pre-baby event was sleeping-in, napping, dozing, and snoozing. Goodbye and goodnight, hope to see you again in 18 years. But before you get overwhelmed and look into the mirror to see the black under your eyes (get rid of all the mirrors in your house by the way), there are so many positive things that I love, really love, about being a solo parent. Here are some tips to avoid burnout as a solo parent.
What I love about being a solo parent
I get to call the shots. There is no fighting on how to raise my child. It’s my way, or the highway.
I get to listen, take advice, and then chart out a path and hopefully not screw Nanette up. Kidding! Whether it is about co-sleeping, being the favorite parent, or travel, my child and I get to bond and grow as a family.
3 Tips to Avoid burnout as solo parent.
- Know and understand your triggers.
What sets you off?
What keeps you up at night?
Is it your job, your family, finances, etc.?
- Get a diary; write down all your worries and fears. It felt like I was throwing up in my diary when I started, I may have even cried a little, but once it was down there, it seemed less fluid, more tangible.
Think of positive steps to help overcome the fear. You won’t be able to make big changes right away, but even a little ones will help at first.
2. Plan ahead.
- So often, I would crawl into bed, exhausted, only to be kept up late into the night, worried with panic that I forget to do something, or ruminate about the dozen things on my plate for the next day. My mind would be in overdrive as I tossed and turned. Single parent brain is a real thing and can get you all fuzzy, not thinking straight.
- Meal prep for the week on a Sunday, so that you have all your dinners covered.
- Pick up your kid’s toys (better to turn it into a game with them) so you don’t have to do it the next day. I like to turn to my schedule and make a list of everything I have planned, everything I need to do, and things I hope to do. That way these activities are off my mind while I get ready for bed.
3. Get plenty of sleep.
- I’m not the first person, and won’t be the last, to offer this piece of advice: Sleep. We all need it. Most of us require eight uninterrupted hours of it. But good luck getting that when flying solo. Your sleep will be interrupted regardless. When Nanette is sleeping, I know I am guilty of checking and rechecking Instagram or Facebook, and before I know it 30 minutes have passed when I should have been sound asleep. Leave your phone out of your bedroom! Don’t let the temptation in.
- Invest in comfy sheets and a pillow. I tend to run hot at night, so I got a cooling memory-foam pillow. If that’s not your style, there are a lot of different options are stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- Try a meditation or insomniac podcast. I’ve listened to a Waking Up with Sam Harris and if you are currently cash-strapped, all you have to do is email his company and they will give you one-year of free access. Who doesn’t love free?
I know this is not going to be easy, but there are ways that can help. We are here to offer advice and share other people’s stories about solo parenting. There are plenty of other tips to avoid burnout as solo parent. You are not alone and we’re all in this together. Now, close your eyes and get some sleep!