I’m going to hit the ripe old age of 43 on Christmas Day this year. Am I freaked out about sliding slowly towards 50? Not one bit. You see, I’ve made the decision to live a passionate, purposeful life, and this decision is not only key to my mental and emotional health but is rapidly translating into more moolah in my bank account. I’ve heard myself described as “a bit of a machine” by a couple of friends! I do naturally have lots of energy, which resulted in mental health issues earlier in life. My challenge since then has been to get strategies in place to not only cope as a single parent, but thrive as an all-round focused adult who kicks goals and makes the most of her valuable time, and I’d like to share some of my strategies with you.
- Accept that your energy is not infinite.
We all know these days that in order to give of ourselves to others, our own cup has to be reasonably full. But have you broken things down a little further and thought about the various parts of your life? I think of my life as being broken up into weavable parts, i.e. children/family/ work/alone time/intimate partner/being outdoors/music/service to others, and so on. For instance if I get a new partner, I accept that for a little while at least I may not have the spare energy to allocate to practicing music. What is your total energy budget? How do you use it?
- Embrace the concept of productive procrastination.
The Urban Dictionary defines productive procrastination as ‘Doing stuff to keep busy while avoiding what really needs doing’. This is a classic for us busy single parents, we have so much on our plates that it’s genuinely difficult to find the head space to think about what we want, rather than meeting the needs of others. I think women can be especially guilty here. This concept was a real eye-opener for me and has saved me a lot of unnecessary housework!
- Value yourself
Emma Johnson, author of The KickAss Single Mom, has a great phrase here – ‘to put your self-care first, as per the oxygen masks on the plane philosophy’. Self-care is key to great parenting and kicking those uncomfortable life goals. You are more than important enough – if you only get 2 hours of free time per week, what are you going to do with it?
- Choose very carefully what and who you spend your energy caring about
Back to that concept of finite energy stores for different areas of your life – how are you going to free up enough energy to deal with a difficult parenting phase if you’re up all night ruminating about a toxic friendship? It’s top priority to identify the good (mostly internal) values which drive you or should be driving you, shed the rest and stick to your guns.
- Identify your passive timewasters
Guilty! I deleted the Facebook app off my phone as it drove me mental and I still check it through my browser. Duh. Yes my mindless scrolling does give me a mental break from two noisy boys and I do need it for my work and business, but hey spending your precious 1 free hour every day after the munchkins are in bed scrolling FB is a frontal lobotomy to your aspirations. Not to mention disrupting your even more precious sleep. Identify these passive time wasters, add up how much time you actually spend doing them and do something else more fun instead. Read a book! Watch a movie! Early night! Phone your Mum!
- The joyful magic of outsourcing
It took me a long time to get a cleaner and to justify the $60 I pay her to decontaminate my joint once a month. Then I tried it for a while and it was like a magic fairy had visited. I often have to scrabble around for the spare cash, but once I realized how much time and mental space this simple change was making I’m not going back. Great value for money if it’s feasible for you, I now spend those hours building my business or going to the beach. Getting a house clean while my boys are with their Dad extends the magic even further.
- These 3 books might just change your life if you put the work in
The Barefoot Investor. by Scott Pape. No brainer.
The KickAss Single Mom. by Emma Johnson. Absolute game changer, I buy it for my friends!
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#$* by Mark Manson. Choosing healthy values, great read.
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