Running a household is a stressful, full time job at the best of times– but when you’re running solo, it can make life and day-to-day activities especially challenging. As you’re a single parent, maintaining an organised home falls squarely on your shoulders. All the cooking and cleaning is up to you – and that doesn’t include chauffeuring the kids around, juggling work and being the every need, the every ‘everything’, every day.
By the time you’ve put the kids to bed you’re plain exhausted. The toys you’re tripping over and the pile of washing that’s building up are the last things you want to deal with, but it’s got to be done. It can be an endless cycle, trying to stay on top of things. As we all know, parenting, whether alone or not, is a 24/7 marathon – not an occasional side hobby you fit in when time permits. It’s the most incredible and the most valuable marathon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting and you don’t need help along the way.
If you’re a single mum or dad and you feel like you’re pulling your hair out, we’ve uncovered some tips to help your home become a more efficient and comfortable place to live in.
1. Little Things, Daily
When weekly or monthly tasks are broken down into daily to-dos, it makes them much easier to tackle instead of trying to fit in a cleaning marathon. Focus on one task – or one room – every day to save them all building up into one hard to control mess. Little things go a long way in the home, especially when you’re juggling it all on your own. For example, Fridays may be laundry day and Tuesdays can be kitchen scrubbing time. Breaking major household tasks into smaller daily ones will help in organising your home much quicker.
2. Team Effort
As a single parent, an extra pair of hands is always needed and little hands tend to be fairly eager to help. Depending on the age of your children, you can get them to help with jobs around the house and motivate them with incentives and pocket money.
Whilst its important children have time to be just that – children – there is no harm in assigning small tasks to them. Research shows that children learn about family relationships and the function of a family by being involved in household chores, and when they contribute it can add a sense of responsibility and competence for them.
It can be as simple as picking up toys, setting the table before dinner or putting dishes in the dishwasher. Each child can be responsible for keeping their own room tidy or making their own bed in the mornings. It doesn’t always have to be just chore related though; planning meals together and doing the grocery shopping can encourage team effort and help you in the process.
Routine is probably one of the most crucial aspects for an organised home, especially when you’re juggling it all on your own. If you’re routine is a rowdy mess, it not only leaves you feeling frustrated and frazzled but it can have a negative effect on your children too.
Discover a routine that works for you, and your kids. If you’re kids bedtimes are all over the place then it can throw everything out. Whether you stagger bedtimes to give you quality time with each child, set specific homework times or bath the children together for efficiency, find what fits into your day best and keep it happening. Stick a calendar on your fridge to help you keep track of activities; this will help to establish a good routine too.
4. Take the Load Off
Just because you’re a single parent it doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own every time. We are not machines, and we cannot always do everything so don’t be afraid to seek helping hands where possible. If a friend or family member offers to bring over dinner one night or pick up the kids, take them up on the offer.
If your day is a whirlwind of activity, take a breath and stop racing around. Take turns with other mums or dads to car pool for after school activities or weekend sleepovers. If day-to-day activities get too hectic, you can always opt for additional services like a gardener, professional cleaner once a week or laundry services can really ease the pressure.
5. Reduce Kitchen Chaos
Dinner time can get a little hectic when you have children and unfortunately as a single parent, it doesn’t ease the pressure. Routine feeds hand-in-hand with reducing kitchen chaos and so planning meals in advance, rather than at 5.30pm can make a world of difference.
Maintain a set dinner time and stick to it to ease the kitchen stress. When you do the grocery shopping, make a list and plan the meals for the next week including lunches for the children so you feel like you’re in more control. Where possible consolidate food prep – chop enough vegetables for salad one night and stir-fry the next or double recipes and freeze meals for later in the week. This way, you won’t feel like you’re constantly in the kitchen cooking or cleaning.
6. Find Time to Unwind
Most importantly, take the time to unwind and recoup. Being a parent can get hectic and everyone needs time out on their own. Once you have a routine in place, be sure to prioritise some alone time. Maintaining strict bedtimes can help with this drastically.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want a saner home.