How a Single Mom Prioritizes Self-Care
Self-care is hard, especially as a woman—and add to that being a single parent. Burnout can become a real problem, and when you tack on the stressful year we all have had, a lack of self-care can become a crisis.
I always thought I had to do something major to practice real self-care, something that cost a lot of money and time. But through trial and error, I've learned that was 100-percent wrong.
Radical self-care, it turns out, can be made up of the simplest things.
I want to share these little changes that have helped me take care of my mental health so I can be a better mom—while also showing up for myself more fully and authentically.
1. Create a bedtime routine.
For a long while, especially during the very challenging 2020 that is finally in our past, I found myself spending a lot of time on social media or watching Netflix before bedtime. Night after night, after putting my son to bed, I'd spend an hour or so looking at a screen. Then, of course, I would struggle to go to sleep. In order to deal with that struggle, I figured I should get my mind off of whatever was bothering me, so I would inevitably go back to those screens. Annoyingly, I was stuck in a loop of sleep-disruptive screens that would relentlessly stimulate my mind.
With the constant stimulus and procrastination of bedtime taking a toll on my life, I decided to make a bedtime routine. Something with no screens, something that made me feel truly relaxed and deeply connected to myself.
I made a list of things that were tech-free and easy to do alone in my room. I set aside 30-60 minutes every night, and I started to do at least one thing on my list each night.
Depending upon my mood, I might choose to journal, mix in a tarot card reading, maybe practice some yoga. Some nights, I do meditation or read a book. Blissfully, the screens are no longer part of my bedtime.
2. Take a mindfulness shower.
As a single mom of a six-year-old boy with many fur babies around, some days the noise around me can be too much to handle. The endless to-do list, the ongoing feeling I've forgotten something, and even the literal noise my beloved child makes can be tough.
These days, when it's all too much, I nip the problem in the bud. Before I lose my cool, I excuse myself to take a shower.
To elevate my showers, I started putting on music and practicing mindfulness so that I could recenter myself before braving the wilderness again.
Breathing slow and deep while listening to the sounds around me and feeling the sensation of water on my skin helps me to come back to my mental center. This small-but-mighty ritual prepares me for stepping back into my life, perhaps with a bit more grace than before my shower.
3. Learn how to delegate.
I am the type of person that hates to burden others, and I’m also a bit of a competitive perfectionist. I want to prove to everyone that I can do anything, so asking for help has historically been hard for me.
When Covid hit and school was closed, it made it more difficult to reach out for help. Most weeks, I am with my son from dawn until bedtime for the whole week.
I had to learn that my son and I needed some time to be away from each other, for the sake of our relationship and sanity. Doing something as simple as going grocery shopping without him felt like a vacation.
I also had to learn that asking someone to watch him while I do something for me is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of love—love for him and love for me.
Delegating childcare so you can do something by yourself is important. Covid makes it hard, and not everyone has the means to do so. But if it is possible to delegate every now and then, it is so valuable. It really does take a village to raise a child.
4. Have an at-home spa day.
One thing I look forward to each month is my monthly spa day. I get my Kinder Beauty box, I find someone to take care of my son for a little while, and I treat myself to a spa day.
I color my hair a lot, so the Moérie Mineral Hair Mask has been a favorite of mine. I put music on, put on my hair mask, and take an incredible bubble bath. Then, I follow it up with some decadent Ellovi Butter and a nice cup of tea. I tailor my spa day, depending on the goodies in my Kinder Beauty box.
I recently had a beautiful gold eyeliner in one of my boxes, so I did a full glam make-up and had a selfie photo shoot. There are so many fun ways to feel like a Goddess/Goddex from the products in the Kinder Beauty box.
Over the years, I have learned that the old saying is true: you cannot pour from an empty cup.
We don’t have to spend hours or tons of money to rejuvenate and take time for ourselves.
You work hard, you do so much for others, and you deserve to fill your cup, too.
Lauren Littlewood is a copywriter and activist, passionate about creating positive change in the world.