A couple of years ago I had a full-time, 10 hour a day job that left me little time for anything else besides the basic daily routine. I was beginning to feel resentment towards my babysitter, who was not only spending more time with my kids than I was but she also took home a third of my salary in the process. Insane, right?! I didn’t last very long on that job because I was going broke from paying for childcare and I was riddled with guilt any time I wanted to do something non-Mom related.
I’ve spent a good part of my 24 years as a parent trying to figure out the best ways to find balance in my everyday life. By balance, I mean ways in which I can make time for myself to hit the reset button, while not allowing myself to feel depleted or even defeated for doing a thing that was meant to be done by two people not one. It is, at times, my greatest challenge to figure out how I can find a consistent system whereby I am available and fully present for my children and have time for me. When it comes down to it, it’s really a matter of logistics and hiring a good babysitter.
I know some of you already have it figured out but for those of you who hold onto the belief that it’s impossible I can tell you– one Smart Mama to another– that it really is possible to achieve more “me” time. And I do mean something other than sitting outside in the car during your kid’s soccer practice thinking about what to cook for dinner or listening to yet another audiobook during your rush hour commute. You, we, absolutely deserve better!
I came up with two scenarios that might help you gain some clarity on how to achieve guilt-free single-parent work/life balance. If you had a few extra dollars and the choice to pay your sitter 2-3 extra hours a week so you could dedicate the hours solely to doing what you wanted with them, what would you do? How would you choose to spend that time? Or, what if you decided to opt out of the free time, and use the money to save for a new wardrobe or even a facial instead?
1. Save money while doing less
As a working mom, I’ve tried everything from working less hours to bartering childcare with friends but saving money on childcare means I have less quality time with my kids and no time for myself. Not everyone can up and leave a job but you can ask for flex-time or if you’re looking for a new job, be upfront about your situation. You will be surprised how many companies are open to work/life balance for their employees. When I landed a new job, I figured out a few simple ways to make money saving possible without compromising all of my free time.
My sitter would work 2 extended days a week and I would pick up the children from after school on the other three days.
I buy my groceries online to save from having to visit the supermarket, (Many chain outlets offer online shopping and delivery. I like Amazon Fresh),
I cook meals in advance and freeze them or
I budget for one night of really inexpensive take out and
I assign the sitter to walk the dog.
These simple tricks allow prevent me from compromising my “me” time. For the extra couple of hours a day, my sitter works, I can meet friends, go on a date, or sit in a café.
2. Instead of a Sitter, try a House Assistant
So, changing jobs for you is not an option or your employer says flex hours are not an option or you can’t find a part-time sitter in your area. Or, you simply just want to spend less time doing laundry and more quality time with your kids. Not a problem. The other day I was watching the film, Mrs.Doubtfire with my kids. Remember the scene when Sally Field’s, who plays a newly separated single mother returns home from a long day at work to find her nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, stirring a pot of freshly cooked food, while the children carried out their daily routines with ease, giving their mother time to take a bath and gather her thoughts. The house was sparkling clean and quiet and all she needed to do is hangout with the children before tucking them in. Seems so unattainable, especially, if you’re someone who is on a limited budget, right?
You’re an employer, remember? So, why not offer your sitter flex duties? Or, maybe what you need instead of a sitter is someone who can prepare your home before you return with the kids. For a couple of hours a day, that person arrives home before you do and helps you with your routine. I had a sitter who started an hour before I got home. She would get dinner going, and get the kids in their baths. This allowed me to get them ready for the next day. Because her duties were very specific I was able to negotiate a fixed rate because she was helping me as opposed to caring for the children in my absence. Trust me, this second pair of hands comes in real handy without breaking the bank. And let me tell you Smart Mamas it goes a long way in helping to maintain sanity!
Stay tuned to more tips for Single-Moms
From Smart Mama KD, mom of 3