Single Mom Burnout and What You Can Do to Prevent It
I’ve been quiet for a bit. And I want to be real with you.
Single mom burnout is real. And, after talking to my group clients yesterday, I know that single moms by choice and women trying to become single moms by choice, are right there with me in this overwhelm.
I know I’m not alone in this. There are tons of single moms out there, getting their kids back to school after a summer off, getting up early to pack lunches, rushing home after work for dinner, bath, and bedtime.
And, those trying to get pregnant, are working harder to save money for a new baby, facing repeated ups and downs of trying while trying to minimize stress.
So, how did I get here? I took some time to reflect on how and why I’ve gotten to this intense burnout. And, I have some lessons to share with you, so that you, as a single mom, can avoid the place I’m at right now.
So, how did I end up in this intense burnout? Looking back it’s clear that prioritizing self-care is what led me here. So to keep from burning out like this again as a single mom) there are some lessons I want to share with you:
Single Mom Burnout: How did I get here?
In short, the stress of parenting caused me to lose myself and forget about the other aspects in my life that I loved.
- I stopped prioritizing self-care.
Listen, it’s easy for me to get into the mindset where “the show must go on” no matter what happens. When I’m focused, I get laser vision. It’s part of why I ended up getting sick when I was practicing law. I can focus without breaks like nobody’s business. It’s easy for me to get to a place where I feel too busy to take breaks. It’s too easy for me to believe that what I’m working on is too urgent to allow me to stop for my self-care routines, to make healthy food, or a simple catch-up with a friend.
- I put my child’s needs above my own, forgetting that I had needs too that needed attention. I stopped paying attention to what I needed.
- I stopped exercising. I wasn’t even taking walks. Furthermore, I stopped attending my online Qigong class. Getting up from my desk became the least of my priority.
- Wasn’t eating meals–just snacking randomly
I got so frantic, that I stopped cooking and eating good healthy meals. I opted for a hunk of cheese, half an avocado, or a spoonful of hummus throughout the day, but I rarely made a meal or sat down to eat.
- Didn’t delegate enough work
As a solopreneur, everything falls to me in my work. And, finding reliable help feels time-consuming and difficult. But I set out to complete an ambitious launch with tons of content, technical challenges, and intense stress with no help. What’s your version of this?
- Stopped connecting with friends. I’m not much of a phone talker. I really don’t like it. But with minimal contact with others during the pandemic, I didn’t shift and connect with others regularly and eventually found myself very disconnected and lonely.
- Not getting enough sleep–burning candles at both ends
Single Mom Burnout: What did I learn?
- I started to delegate as much as possible. This is true in both my personal life and my business. So, I hired a VA to take over the technical and menial tasks so that I can work on being creative. In my personal life, it means leaning on others who can help clean and cook. Sometimes, it can feel like a stretch financially, but freeing yourself up makes you better able to spend time on the important things.
- I stopped debating whether I could afford self-care. Again, this is one of my biggest pieces of advice I give to my clients. Pick something and don’t let yourself debate whether you can afford it (mentally, emotionally, financially). Just schedule it and do it without guilt or questioning.
- I exercise every day even if it means a short 20 minute walk.
- I eat 1-2 meals a day instead of endlessly snacking or missing meals all together. While I do love intermittent fasting, I need to be more disciplined and carve out time for real meals.
- I need to make time to connect regularly with friends IRL or on the phone. For me, standing dates are the best so that I can save time not trying to schedule and plan. So, for example, Saturday night date with girlfriends, or Thursday morning coffee chat with a friend.
- I commit to a bedtime no later than 10:30 and not work at night at least 3 days a week. This can even mean going to bed with my child at 8pm one night a week.
- I practice what I preach by embracing self-compassion. I let myself be burnt out and honored that I needed a rest and reset, rather than fighting with myself, feeling guilty, and breathing myself up. This is something I teach others and am getting a chance to embrace again.
- I set more boundaries about how much I can give to others. Instead of endlessly giving to my dad or my son. I asked for a list of things my dad wanted and told him I would get to them in time, rather than dropping everything each time he asked for something. I’ve instituted quiet time for my son, during which he needs to entertain himself and give me space.
So, that’s where I’m at. Now that my son is back in school (YAY!!!!!), I finally feel like I can jump back in. My system is reset, and I’m ready to go. But I have a constant reminder to find balance.
Let me know how you are doing? How are you surviving the ups and downs of trying? Or the grind of raising kids alone? Have you ever felt like you can’t get off the couch?