Single mums play many roles. From first thing in the morning until last thing at night we can swap our hats faster than a professional hat swapper. This includes being mum, dad, friend, employee, handyman, chef, cleaner, important guest at a teddy bears tea party, and so on.
I remember a time when I was super busy cooking dinner, dealing with a work email and helping my daughter with homework. In the background my younger daughter was begging me to show her how to do a handstand. Next thing I knew, I was upside down against a wall taking in an alternative view of the madness.
Only kids can make our lives this kind of crazy. And it’s good, yet it is so all-encompassing that you can be forgiven for losing sight of the “real you”.
Who is this deranged looking woman doing a handstand on my living room wall when she should be peeling the potatoes?
If you feel this way, it means you are an amazing single mother who is giving it all you’ve got to being the best single mum you can be. That is brilliant. BUT. I bet you’d still like a bit of “you” back … the woman you were before kids and single motherhood?
If this is you, keep reading because this article is about how to find the “real you” amid the craziness of single mum life.
Finding the ‘real you’ amid the craziness of being a single mum
RECOGNISE THE IDENTITY CRISIS
Before you can make positive change, you need to recognise and accept where you are at right now.
In my eCourse, the first exercise is called “Face In The Mirror” where I encourage you to simply look in the mirror and evaluate what you see.
We can do a scaled-down version of the exercise now. So, find a mirror …
When was the last time you really took the time to look at yourself properly?
Who do you see staring back at you? Is it you? Is it a stranger? Is it a different version of yourself? Do you see someone older, wiser, wilder?
Take time to assess (without judgement) what you see and consider how you have changed since becoming a single mum. Some of this change will be good and some not so good. Most importantly, think of the things that you love about yourself that have been pushed to the side while you fulfilled your role as single mother.
Simply by assessing where you are at this exact moment in time and recognising what parts of yourself you want back, has given you a path … a place from where you are now to where you want to be.
The next steps will help your journey along this path to recover and discover the “real you”.
LIST YOUR HOBBIES (STAY WITH ME HERE)
Listing hobbies may seem like a pretty average piece of advice but it’s super important for single mums looking to find the wonderful person they have become.
Be prepared: You will probably unearth a few surprises. I certainly did!
The reason for this was because I was no longer with my husband with whom I shared my life and my hobbies for so many years. For the first time in a long time, I could be honest about what I wanted from life … both on a daily basis and for my future.
Turns out that I really don’t like fishing! And I actually love shaking my bootie with the local gym crowd.
It’s liberating to be completely honest and authentic about who you are, rather than giving a part of yourself to someone else because that is what’s expected of you. Welcome the wonderful world of single motherhood!
So, come on. What it is you truly love doing? There are heaps of hobbies for moms. A yoga class, start writing, meditation. Do you need a boost of adrenaline every now and then? Or are you happiest doing sweet FA?
There is no right or wrong answer here, just list the things you genuinely love doing.
SHOW YOUR KIDS THE “REAL YOU” (AND THAT SHE MATTERS)
Now you must coax the “real you” from the craziness of your single mum life.
To do this you need to carve out some free time.
Finding this elusive “free time” is a mission for many single mothers and, again, it’s something we cover in great detail on my eCourse.
The usual suggestions include getting up early before the kids wake up, putting them in childcare, getting a babysitter etc. But for this article, I’m going to suggest something different.
You are looking for time to be the “real you”. And that “real you” is a wonderful person you want to share with your children. So, let them see it!
Instead, of pursuing hobbies when the kids aren’t around, let your children witness this new emerging version of you. All children love to see their mum happy. It is also important for them to witness you putting yourself as priority.
Let your children know that it is Mummy’s time for painting/yoga/meditating. The earlier children get used to the idea of mum taking time out for herself the sooner they will accept it.
And, if you’re feeling the familiar pangs of mum guilt, don’t! It’s good for children to understand that there is lots more to Mum than cooking, cleaning and shouting at them to get ready for school.
Be the “real you” for everyone to see!
Note: Only you know how much time your child can spend unattended or not entertained so act within the realms of your own family.
MONITOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
When it comes to mental health as a single mother, there is nothing more important.
If your mental health is not in tip-top condition it will affect every area of your life, and possibly even your children.
Poor mental health can be caused by so many different things including sleep deprivation, self-doubt, negative thoughts, anxiety, poor physical health, financial worries and so on.
Allowing yourself to be real and authentic is a brilliant way to manage your mental health. There is nothing more cathartic than dropping all the pretences and being “you”. It gives you the freedom to be the person you aspire to be and relief to pursue and do what you choose to do.
If you feel lost or depressed and are unable to pull yourself back to positive space easily, please seek further support. Both Lifeline and Beyond Blue have excellent 27/7 phone help lines. Or book an appointment with your GP who can offer support or a referral to a clinical psychologist.
In this article I share my experience with depression and how to cope whilst juggle all the balls of single motherhood: Signs of depression as a single mother and how to cope.