TIME MANAGEMENT is a bit of a trigger term for me, because it was never something I had to really worry about until I became a parent. I was pretty much just winging life with some built-in personal responsibility in the back of my mind, and that was working out just fine for me.
Then I became pregnant, and my oddly impeccable memory went through the window. Then came the clumsiness as I got bigger and lost my centre of gravity (which I never truly recovered from). Then came another human whose time I also needed to manage. Then came full-time work to keep said human fed. You get the picture. Fun.
Now I’m not gonna sit here and lie that I’m an expert at time management, but I have been working full-time as a single mom for the last four years, and somehow in that time I managed to complete my bachelor’s degree, not get fired from any of my jobs, and keep the kid alive. I must be doing at least some things right, right?
Here are my top tips (try at your own risk):
1. Learn to let sh*t go
I believe this is the one thing that has kept me somewhat sane all these years. Being a single mom can feel very disappointing. You will disappoint yourself. You will disappoint your friends. You will disappoint your boss. You will disappoint your child. But, if you wallow in that disappointment too long, you will spend a your entire life trudging through guilt, and spending more time apologising and making up than you actually spend getting anything done. Take a tip from one of those animated shows you secretly enjoy and let it go! (Thanks Elsa). You can’t please all the people all the time, so you have to honestly answer this next question.
2. Who are you impressing?
Are you trying to prove to somebody that you can be super mom? (Newsflash: she died from COVID because she had underlying stress. Read all about it here). Maybe you’re trying to prove to you boss, your parents, your child’s dad, or even yourself, that you are perfectly capable of doing at all alone and doing it well. Well, I’ve been down that road… and it’s a dead end.
The only person who is worth impressing is your child, and these kids are so unbelievably easy to impress, you only have to try a little bit. Of course you also need to prioritise your job, so you can make money to impress your child with fascinating things (like glue sticks), but you will find yourself burned out all the time if you put pressure on yourself to never be ‘that parent’ at work.
3. Who’s got your back?
This is going to sound pretty rich coming from someone who would rather drink children’s DpH than ask for help, but if the people you call friends are not there to help you when you need them to, why are you still prioritising them in your life? Friends should be more than the people who keep inviting you to expensive outings and causing you to break your budget. If you can’t get an impromptu babysitter when you have to work late, a small loan to tide you over until payday, or a solid word of encouragement when you feel like you’re failing, you need new friends. Friends that get it.
4. It’s not you, it’s them
Yea mama, entertain the thought. Maybe it’s truly not you who has trouble managing your time. Maybe it’s people in your life who are making it seem that way, by having unrealistic expectations of you as a single parent. Maybe your boss is actually an a-hole for expecting you to work late knowing you have to pick your child up, or expecting you to work around the clock like you don’t have a whole family to care for at home. Maybe you’re working in a career that’s just not conducive to having a good work-life balance as a single parent. Maybe your child’s teacher is giving too much damn homework. Maybe the key to better time management, for you, is having less demands on your time. No time-blocking technique can fix that. You have bigger life changes to make.
5. Ditch the kid
I know it’s probably not what you came here to hear, but it’s the best one I’ve got, because I take so long to get ready to go out when I have to get my son ready too, but if I’m going out alone I can be ready in 20 minutes flat. You know what that is? Time management. Take every opportunity you get to ditch the kid. School, playdates, weekends at dad’s, grandma’s or those good friends you now have. And get sh*t done, girl. Because, you know what all these super efficient moms on social media have in common why they’re crushing it daily? Nannies.