It’s a fact! Life as a single mum is busy, stressful and full of ups and downs that test our limits almost daily. Well, it certainly is for me.
For this reason, it is super important to get into habits that keep us healthy in body and mind.
Remember, a healthy mum is a happy mum. And a happy mum is much better placed to face the demands of single motherhood and pass positive vibes onto our children. There is no doubt in my mind that my kids are happier when they see I am content, relaxed and smiling.
Don’t stress about having to make huge changes to your life as we are talking about ‘habits’ here. Habits are small practices that we weave into our daily lives that slowly become part of our routine with very little effort.
Such routines encourage a balanced life. Even when you are up against your biggest challenges, you have the tools at your fingertips to stay strong, reserve energy, and keep going … without compromising your health.
According to The Very Well Mind:
“Taking care of yourself, the most important person in your child’s life, is paramount to being the best parent you can be. Self-care helps you build up the energy, stamina, and inner strength you need to do this job well. And it won’t happen by accident.”
Oh yes, finding healthy habits that fit into your world will help you flourish and thrive as a single mother.
Here are 20 healthy habits that I try to live my life by as a single mum. I am not always successful but if you aim for the moon and don’t reach it, you’re bound to get a few stars along the way!
20 Healthy habits for single parents to live a better life
1. DRINK MORE (WATER!)
Yes, ladies … that is water, not wine! You need to drink plenty to quench your kidneys, clear your mind and energise your muscles. I put a full glass by my bed in the evening and drink it when I wake up before I get out of bed. It feels good to clean the system and start the day nicely hydrated.
If water is really not your thing, drink healthy teas for the water content as well as the health benefits.
Meditation is easy. Anyone can do it. I do transcendental meditation which you need to learn from a professional. But it can be self-taught and takes just 10 minutes of your day. Find a meditation app, join a course or download a free guided meditation online.
Further reading: Meditation for mums (no it’s not a joke).
3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Add one small routine to your day to show yourself some compassion and kindness. Have an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning or a hot bubble bath once the kids are tucked up. I have a stash of ice creams for this very purpose. Enjoy your treat to yourself!
4. STAY POSITIVE
Keep the vibes high and stay positive. You can do this by practicing gratitude and thinking of three things you feel thankful for as you get into bed each night. Or, if you need a lift during the day, stick a few mantras around the house – on the fridge door, the bathroom mirror, or the screensaver on your device. My favourite at the time of writing is:
“Do what you can, let the rest go.”
Further reading: 100 Mantras for mums to help you make it through the day.
5. KEEP MOVING
Whether you do some simple stretches or a session at the gym, including movement in your daily routine is paramount to keep endorphins flowing and your body in tip-top condition. I take a 20-minute night walk after dinner every evening. Not only does it keep me fit but I stick on my headphones, listen to some tunes, and feel all empowered and happy.
Further reading: 12 Online fitness programs you can do in your undies.
With busy days that are all go-go-go, nothing is more important than learning to STOP, especially for us single mothers. Yes, stopping is actually a healthy habit. Give yourself a ten-minute break before collecting the kids from school or a collective cuddle on the couch after dinner. Anything to rest your mind and body before starting again.
While we rush around our breathing is short and shallow but there are many benefits to deep breathing. I only learned this trick recently, but it helps my daughters and me when we feel overwhelmed. It can lower stress, stabilise blood pressure and slow your heartbeat. Set a time each day to stop and take 10 deep, relaxing breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth …
Connect with at least one person every day, not including your kids. Phone a friend, or better still meet them for coffee. If that’s not possible, strike up a chat with another parent at school pick-up or playgroup. My cousin lives on the other side of the world, and we have taken to leaving each other voice messages on WhatsApp. It’s not the perfect connection but I love listening to her messages and always feel better when I have left a message for her sharing my day and how I am feeling.
9. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK
Feeling dithery and unsure? Join the club! It’s natural to doubt yourself as a single mum. Grab a pen and paper and write down three things that you feel proud of today. Yes, getting the kids up and out the door for school can count.
Further reading: How to stop doubting yourself as a single mother.
No, this doesn’t mean booking a one-way ticket to The Bahamas. Escapism can be as simple as losing yourself in a good book, a Stan series, or plugging into your favourite tunes. Anything that takes you temporarily away from your own. For me, it’s Netflix or a crime novel.
Healthy living for single mums
Nothing feels as good as a cuddle. It releases feel-good hormones that chill us out, dissipates depression and improve our mood, yay. Cuddle the kids or, failing that, cuddle the parent you cornered at pick-up to have a chat with. Or, be like me and cuddle your cats.
12. EAT DINNER TOGETHER
However busy you are as a family, make sure you eat just one meal together every day. Use the time to connect, laugh and while sharing the delicious dinner you have made … even if you opted for cereal, which is perfectly OK by the way. Some of my happiest memories are when we all sit together and eat.
13. SEXY SELF-LOVE
If you’re single you need not miss out on feeling sexy. Give yourself self-pleasure before drifting off to sleep at night … or when you’ve dropped the kids at school. Think super safe sex that releases endorphins, reduces anxiety and improves sleep.
Further reading: How to have the best sex life ever … with yourself.
Do just one small thing to get yourself a step closer to achieving your dream. Whether it’s exercise to gain a desired weight, putting money aside for a savings goal, or a period of study for your next career move. Create a routine to keep you moving in the right direction every day.
15. HAVE ONE-ON-ONE WITH YOUR KIDS
Whatever the age of your child/ren, take time out to enjoy them without distractions, every single day. Turn off your phone, clear your mind and be with your little ones. It’s good for you … and it’s good for them too. As single mums, we don’t do this as much as we should. It’s time to make it a priority.
I am a minimalist and am here to tell you that it makes life soooo much easier. Get minimalising by doing one small thing daily to declutter your home or your mind. Here are some examples:
- Bin some out-of-date food from the fridge or kitchen cupboards
- Set aside an item of clothing you don’t wear for charity
- Delete some old photos from your phone.
The simple act of decluttering will clear your mind and give you greater clarity.
17. SMELL THE ROSES
Quite literally … go outside and smell some flowers. In the absence of flowers, smell the air. Look at the sky. Feel the wind. Being amongst nature can help your physical well-being by releasing muscle tension and reducing your heart rate, ahhhhh.
18. FRESHEN UP
Hygiene can fall by the wayside when things get hectic. Yet, simple acts such as washing your face and cleaning your teeth will leave you feeling refreshed, awake and more about to take on the world. I clean my teeth about four times a day simply because it makes me feel good.
19. EAT A SUPERFOOD
Improve your overall health by tweaking your diet and eating one superfood every day. Think matcha smoothies, a handful of nuts and berries, or a sprinkling of spirulina on your morning porridge.
20. STICK TO THE ROUTINE
Whatever new routines you choose, make sure you stick to them. Rocking a routine improves organisation, heightens clarity, prevents burnout, and increases productivity. Oh, and kids thrive on routine so make sure you bring them along for the ride.