Being a single mum can be hard. Being a mum is hard, so doing it alone adds many extra layers of complexity. You don't always choose the road of a single parent. Sometimes it chooses you and shocks you completely out of the blue, sometimes you see the writing on the wall and other times it is your own decision and choice.
Whatever journey you took to find yourself here, this is where you are. You can not change some things but what you can change is how you approach this new life. Yes it will be overwhelming, and scary, and uncertain at first, but with the right mindset and focus; you will get through it. In fact you will learn, and grow and evolve into the best version of you.
I've been a single mum for a few years now and have learnt the power of the mind and positive thinking. Mindset plays the biggest part in getting you through the first days, weeks and months. Below are my ten tips to support you. These tips worked for me and I hope they work for you too. Focus and action these and watch yourself become stronger, more resilient, and grow as an amazing single mum with ease and grace.
Cut the guilt
Firstly, you are an incredible mother, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, you have no need to feel guilty. Plus nothing good ever comes from feeling guilty. If you can let go of the guilt, it will allow you to be more present, less stressed and anxious, and enjoy the crazy ride of life and single motherhood.
Cutting the guilt is not a fix that can be done overnight, it's something that comes over time and with practice. One of the first places to start is in letting go of the expectations you place on yourself and the life around. Progress is better than perfection; kids that have happily eaten whatever dinner you put on the plate, are just as good as kids that ate an organic, handmade superfood meal. And your house is perfect for your family, it doesn't need to look like a magazine spread or a fancy instagram shot.
Relax, do your best and do it with heart.
Use the power of positive thinking
When we focus on positive thoughts, we bring a positive attitude into our life. Like attracts like, the whole Law of Attraction thing that you have probably heard about (started as the popular self-help book The Secret!?). If we think thoughts that are positive, expecting good outcomes, looking at situations favourably and focussing on happiness and joy; life does get easier. Be the master of your own mind, be in control and choose the direction your over 60,000 thoughts per day go.
And from a scientific perspective, positive thoughts can actually change the way our brain is wired. It has biochemical and neuro-chemical affects on our brain which can completely change our life if we just allow it to.
Stop and breathe
Breathing and focusing on the breath, helps to focus the mind and bring us back to the present moment. When you feel completely overwhelmed, stressed or out of control; just stop and breathe. And the best thing about the breath is that it is always with us, we don't need any special equipment, space or length of time to benefit from it. Sitting in stillness, following the breath in and out, can relax the mind and body to allow feelings to move through, to help regain control, to allow you to respond rather than react.
If the kids are driving you crazy or the chores are building up, and you can feel yourself tensing up, stop and take a few deep breaths. The pause will help you realign and respond calmly.
Take time to yourself
Self-care is not selfish, it is essential. It can be so easy to put your kids needs before yours. They have high demands and are constantly needing your attention, and then there is all the work around them just to keep them alive and the house running in an orderly manner.
You must take the time for yourself and cut the guilt along the way. The simple truth is that when you look after yourself, it helps everyone else around you. When your cup is full, you have lots to give to others. Try to find some time each week (or even better everyday), to dedicate to just you - it could be meditation, a bath, reading, a nap, a walk in nature or just a cup of tea looking out the window.
Accept where you are at
This is something that can completely change your life, but is so much easier said than done! You need to accept your story and where you are today. Yes it takes bravery, and it takes courage, but when you can accept where you are at, life becomes easier.
Life doesn't have to be perfect, or like your dreams (there is still plenty of time for that!), in fact you don't even have to like it. But you do need to accept where you are at today. Accept that this is your journey right now. Once you can do this you will be spending your energy on the present, not on the struggle, feeling sad or dissapointed.
Trust that you are exactly where you need to be in your journey. As Gabby Bernstein says 'I trust in the energy of the universe, and I surrender my plans'.
Talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend
Your mind is so super powerful! Your mind believes exactly what you tell it every day. If you use mean and harsh words, you will start to believe these are true and the only path that this will take you is in a downward spiral to nowhere. The way that you talk to yourself will either motivate and encourage, or limit where you can go.
A great way to get on top of this is to check the words you use in your self-talk, and ask yourself this question. 'Would I say this to my best friend?' or maybe 'would I be happy if my son/daughter said these words to themselves?'. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it. Treat yourself with love and respect.
Ask for and accept help.
It can be overwhelming to suddenly have all of these tasks to do, and only you to do them. Whether you had been in a relationship for awhile and shared the workload, or have always taken the majority of the load; the new situation can seem very daunting.
Firstly, tackle the essential tasks first at home. Make sure the kids (and yourself!) are fed well, clean and getting a good nights sleep. Focus your time and energy on these essentials. For everything else, ask for and accept help. Your friends and family will offer to help you, and please accept their kindness. Don't feel they are doing it out of pity, they are doing it because they love you and they genuinely want to help you. In fact, it will actually make them happy, being there beside you.
Say 'I get to', instead of 'I have to'.
I love this little mindshift! I'm not sure who first created this but I have heard Drew Barrymore use it before. It's such a great reminder and way to look at situations especially when you are feeling overwhelmed and tired.
When you look at the dishes in the sink, don't think 'oh I have to do the dishes now', change the thinking to 'I get to do the dishes because I have just finished a beautiful meal'. Don't think 'I have to go to work today', change the thinking to 'I get to go to work today'.
Try using this everyday, every time you go to say 'I have to'; and over time (it doesn't happen overnight because you are breaking a habit!), you will start to see how blessed you are. You will feel grateful for what you do have, and will also be filling your mind with positive thoughts, which we know can change our lives!
And while we are talking about gratitude, another great mindset hack is practicing daily gratitudes. Take 5 minutes each morning, to think of three things you are grateful for. Write them down in your journal, say them in the shower, or share them out loud with your kids and get them involved too.
As we've already talked about, when we focus on the positive, it brings more positive thoughts to our minds; so why not start your day with loving thoughts of gratitude. Gratitude raises your vibration which encourages confidence, positivity and draws in more good things into your life.
Go with the flow
I wanted to end this list with this hack, go with the flow. It's such a great way to approach each day and encompasses a lot of the tips mentioned above. Cut the expectations of how your life should look, be flexible with what you do and will achieve in the day, relax if things don't go exactly as you would like them to be, or if everything on the to-do list doesn't get ticked off.
Focus on loving your kids and spending time with them. Amazing moments and memories can be created when you least expect it. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the chaos, enjoy the laughter and the tears; together it all makes for a beautiful life and a new journey ahead.