Finding Balance as a Single Working Mom

I’m a single mom. So, being unemployed is not an option. I have to work to provide for me and my daughter. I am thankful for a job that provides for us financially and is for the most part flexible. If I could be a stay at home mom I definitely would and am always striving toward that goal, however in the meantime I will sit at a desk for 7.5 hours. It can be exhausting working full time and being a single mom too, but I have found that the key is balance. If your life isn’t balanced you become out of sync emotionally, physically, and mentally. God didn’t make us to be stressed out and barely enjoying our family and life. It is important to take the time to balance life, work and family.

Ideas for Balancing Work and Home Life for Single Moms

There is no Balance if God Isn’t Your Main Priority
The first vital step in balancing your life is getting your priorities in order. Your first priority should always be God. If you put God on the side everything else will be out of whack. If you allow your job or even your children to come before God you are traveling down a dangerous road. Having a relationship with the Lord is first. Once you are in step with God the balancing becomes easier. Have a devoted time for prayer and worship. If you need to read the bible while on the subway, do it! If you have to wake up earlier and spend that quiet time with the Lord by all means set your alarm. Remember that God is your priority.

Be Honest with Your Employer
Most likely if you are a working mom it is because you need to work. Don’t feel guilty about it. But, put work in perspective to the rest of your life. Be honest with your boss about what you can and can’t do. If they expect you to work a lot of overtime and you have a four year old you need to pick up from daycare let them know this. Get clear on your job’s expectations and make your position clear to them also. Never sacrifice your kids for your job.

Explore Your Options
Research the flexibility that your position offers. Is there a possibility to telecommute? If there is discuss it with your boss. Don’t be afraid to ask! The number one reason women don’t get what they want is they don’t ask. Telecommuting is a great way to be home for your children while earning income. If you find yourself craving being an at home mom, explore other career opportunities that can make this a reality for you. Get creative and pray for guidance.

Leave Work at Work
Do not become a workaholic. I am not referring to just staying late or bringing work home. Mentally leave work at work. If you bring your frustrations home it is easily transferred to your home life. When you come home focus your attention on your family and if possible keep work in the office.

Get Organized
I can’t stress enough how important organization is to balance in your life. Take a good look at how your household is running, is it smooth or are you constantly running around like a mad woman? Sit down and think about the areas of your household that need to be organized and get to it. Here are some helpful organizational tips:

Create a cleaning schedule. This allows you to focus on specific rooms on specific days of the week. For example, schedule a laundry day, choose a day to clean the bathroom, or to clean the family room. This schedule will keep you organized and eliminate wasted minutes.
Develop a Chore List. Depending on the ages of your children assign age appropriate chores to everyone. Don’t take on the burden of doing everything, families should work together. Chores fosters a sense of responsibility in your children.
Maintain a budget and keep your finances tidy. Money is a big stressor for single moms. Become savvy with your money. Create filing system for your bills and an excel sheet that you can record your payments. Deal with bills as soon as they arrive.
Plan meals in advance. Invest in a crock pot and have dinner ready when you come home. Pick a day to plan your meals and go grocery shopping for the week ahead.

Make Family Time Mandatory
Children who have working moms do not have to be a statistic. Spend time with your kids, when you get home from work make it a point to sit around the dinner table and eat together. Take walks after dinner, read the bible together, make weekends your family time and don’t let work interfere. After God raising your children in God’s will is the most important job you have. If you need to take a sporadic day off to spend with your family do so and don’t feel bad about it.

Nurture Yourself
Don’t forget to take care of you! Find some time to do the activities you enjoy. Take care of your health and work towards feeling good on the outside and inside. If you share custody or if the kids are over their dad’s house on the weekend take that time to pamper yourself.

Balancing it all isn’t easy for a single mom, and there will be times when something is neglected. Remember you aren’t perfect, and sometimes hard decisions have to be made when it comes to work and home life. Always do what is in your heart and what God is telling you to do and balance eventually becomes easier.

*First published in Moms of Faith

A Supper Club for Single Christian Moms

Everyone needs friends. Even Jesus had his disciples who he shared time with, prayed with, and had fellowship with. I am a single Christian mom, and the one aspect of my life that had really been lacking was my friendships. Moms are busy whether you are a stay at home mom, a married mom, or a single mom our schedules are filled with a million different activities on any given day. We need a support group, a network of friends that can encourage, inspire, and give us a shoulder to cry on when we need it.

Christian single mothers often feel isolated from other Christian mothers because they don’t fit the traditional Christian family lifestyle. If you are a single Christian mom it is important that you have friendships that are nurturing and supportive. Single moms have a huge amount of responsibility and unwinding is essential to your wellbeing. Most people love good food, conversation, and relaxation. Why not partake in all of these indulgences with your friends by creating a, “supper club.”

A supper club is a simple and fun way to gather with friends and get some much needed downtime. Create your own supper club by following these easy steps:

Choose members
The members are your friends. You may want to start out with a small group of three to five people. You can always add more friends that you meet in church, school, or work. It is helpful to share this time with women who can relate to your experience as a single mother.

Develop a schedule
Supper clubs can meet once a week or once a month. Get a concensus from everyone on the days and times that work best for them. For example, if your supper club consists of single moms you may want to schedule the date for when the kids are with their dads. Once you schedule the day and time you will meet, assign everyone a day that they are responsible for hosting the supper.

Pick a place and time
There are a few ways to do this. Either you can choose one permanent place, or whoever is hosting the supper club that week has it at her place. The time depends on everyone’s schedule. If it is during the week and you work outside the home mostly likely the evening is going to work best. If you’re meeting on a weekend try doing an afternoon brunch.

Food
The only requirement for food is that it is good! Make sure you ask everyone if they are allergic to anything. You can either do a potluck type of supper club where the host can make the main dish and everyone else can bring a side dish. The host can also choose to plan and serve the whole meal.

Good Conversation
The goal of the supper club is to have great meaningful conversations that are reenergizing and engaging. Try not to make it a complain fest, but really share with one another in an open and constructive way. Share your faith and fellowship with one another. It is always surprising how someone may be going through the same exact issue and how beneficial your input can be to them.

Prayer
Prayer is integral to every woman’s life. Begin and end your supper club by having a group prayer asking god to bless your time together. Pray for courage, wisdom, strength, and discernment.

A supper club is a great idea for any group of friends, but especially single moms. Single mothers face unique challenges that other mother’s with a partner may not encounter. Reach out to women in your children’s school who you know are single moms you’ll be surprised at how receptive they will be. Don’t let the kids stop you. Have the group pitch in a few bucks and hire a babysitter. Supper clubs can be a wonderful bonding experience and a fantastic way to meet women who can relate to your experience as a single mother. So let the party begin!

*First published in Moms of Faith

Fitness Tip of the Day

I know juggling a job, kids, and managing a home is serious work! Finding time to squeeze exercise in isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Here are a couple tips on getting some exercise in during your daily routine.

  • If you have to make a pit stop at the grocery store or Target park far away from the entrance (of course if it is still daylight) and walk briskly to the store.
  • Instead of taking the elevator take the steps.
  • While washing dishes do some squats they do wonders for your legs.
  • When you are helping the kids with their homework, get an arm workout by lifting 3-5 pound arm weights, while they are working so are you.
  • When you are watching a movie with the kids, take this time to get a few crunches in.
  • Wear a pedometer rand set a goal on the number of steps you want to take daily this will keep you motivated.
  • Stretch whenever you can! Flexibility is important so take frequent time outs to stretch.

Standing in a Storm

This past summer I tried my hand at gardening, a hobby I’ve wanted to pursue for some time. I was pleasantly surprised as my tomatoes and peppers begin budding beautifully under the strong summer sunlight. I also had a few potted flowers, some dragon snaps and perennials in the mix. With the change of seasons the vegetables disappeared and the flowers wilted. One Sunday while raking the leaves, I noticed in one of the flower pots there was one pink bud still in bloom. It appeared fragile, a lone survivor in the crisp breeze standing tall. The next day we had a storm, walking to my car I noticed the poor little flower bent over. Oh well, I thought it is amazing the flower lasted this long. The rain was heavy and steady and I knew its’ chance for survival was slim. The rain finally ended and the sun returned peaking through the clouds again. I didn’t think about the flower until I entered my house through the backyard, and there it was the pretty pink flower standing up again. Looking at the flower it made me reflect upon the storms we face in our own lives.

Storms are unpredictable. They arrive fast and furious knocking down everything in their sight. Have you ever been walking along on a perfectly sunny day when without warning the downpour begins? Some storms are blinding, some destroy, and some end just as quickly as they begin. The storms in our life come the same way, don’t they? One day we are carrying on with our daily routine and then boom, the storm rushes in! Maybe the storms are quick or maybe they resemble a monsoon making you question if they’ll ever end. What do you do when a storm hits? Do you hunker down and wait it out? Do you fall into a funk until it is over? How should we handle a storm? We weather it with the help of God.

God knows that we are going to face storms in our lives and he wants us to find refuge in him. God wants us to stand tall even when the wild winds and rains are breaking us down. Our storms are never bigger than God and his love for us. God allows storms in our life to strengthen our faith. It is during the storms that our faith is tested. It is easy to praise God when everything is going well, but when things go sour does your faith wilt just as the flowers do during the change of seasons? I’ve been in storms where I was certain that I’d be washed away. But, just when the lightning was striking, the thunder was rolling and rain was whipping me in the face and I thought I could take no more, the clouds would slowly roll away and the sun would peak out giving me hope for a brighter day ahead. God won’t give you more than you can bear. He is your father and will never forsake you. The message of God tells us this, but if we hear the message, but don’t mix it with faith how can our blessings come?

Hebrew 4: v.2, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” When you hear God’s message, do you believe in it or do you just hear it? Do you allow faith to work in your life or do you block it with fear? If you plan on weathering the storm find shelter in his word but believe in his word, in his promise, and don’t allow fleshly fear to overcome you. God has a wonderful purposeful path in store for you. Expect the storm, but walk in faith and believe in his will for you! Let the storms strengthen your faith and perseverance, be courageous, and allow the storm’s thrashing to build your character. When the storm ends you too will stand tall just like that one lone, fragile, beautiful flower.

Money Tip for Wednesday

One of the biggest stressors in a single mom’s life is money! Take control of your finances by taking a serious look at your financial status. Start by examining your credit reports. Go to http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myfico.com%2FProducts%2FProducts.aspx&h=f580b to order or monitor your credit report. If you monitor it, you will …get alerts if your score goes up or down and you can make adjustments accordingly. Get financially fit!

Parenting Tip for Wednesday

Being a single mom can be overwhelming which can make you cranky and impatient. If you feel yourself slipping into anger take a time out. If you have little kids throw a dvd in and find some quiet space in the house. If you have …older kids who can take care of themselves, go for a walk or take a quick 15 minutes drive or even sit in the car. Believe me you and your kids will be glad you did!