When was the last time you weren’t stressed out?
Single moms have to do it all.
But do you know when it’s time to stop?
1. You feel exhausted most of the time
Do you wake up feeling as tired as you did when you went to sleep? Wake up in the middle of the night? Use lots of make-up to stop looking like a raccoon?
You’re exhausted. The pressure and challenges of being a single mom are taking their toll on your wellbeing. It’s tiring during the day, and it affects the quality of sleep you get.
Before you tackle another to-do on the never-ending list, try a few things that will help you sleep better.Set a bedtime and rules for both you and your children, go to sleep earlier, have an evening routine, and don’t cheat on your sleep with TV or your cell phone (easy trap to fall into).
2. You don’t remember the last time you didn’t feel stressed
Multi-tasking, perfectionism, too many super urgent must-do-now to-dos – you name it. We all suffer from the disease.
Running around like a headless chicken trying to get EVERYTHING done (preferably with perfect results and all at once) won’t get you a Nobel prize for parenthood.
Find a way to declutter your mind and your schedule. Practice mindfulness. Stop trying to be perfect – your children think you’re a hero anyway.
3. You’re irritable and you feel your patience is running low
Have you been moody lately? Do you get angry over little things? Stress and fatigue may have toyed with your patience limits.
Get some alone time to reconnect with yourself. Acknowledge the stress generators in your life and try to deal with them calmly. Engage in vigorous exercise that will employ all the built-up nervous energy. You’ll feel like a new you!
4. You forget things
We’ve all had the experience of walking into a room and forgetting what we wanted to do there. But if it starts happening too often, or you forget more important things (appointments, deadlines etc.), you’re definitely overloaded.
No, you’re not going crazy. While it is possible for a person to suffer from certain physical or psychological ailments that affect memory, it’s more likely that you just need a break. Besides, some research (link: https://www.sciencealert.com/forgetfulness-could-just-be-the-brain-wiping-useless-memories) suggests forgetfulness is part of your brain’s way of processing information.
Take a nap. Let your brain do its thing.
5. You procrastinate
Is your 30-page to-do list staring at you, in spite of your best efforts to ignore it? It might be better if you just get on with it. But it never is as easy as just doing it, no matter how many motivational quotes you read.
Start with a break. Yes, I said it. A break. If you don’t usually procrastinate, but you find you’re dreading the thought of doing anything right now, you need that break. Do something you’re passionate about to feel refreshed and motivated, then snowball that feeling through the other tasks.
To deal with procrastination, find a system that works for you. Try the Pomodoro technique, the 2-minute rule, eat the frog first thing in the morning, or start with the easy tasks. Try them all and pick your favorite, or come up with a new system.
6. Your performance at work is declining
A hectic personal schedule will inevitably affect work. You may struggle with punctuality and meeting deadlines, but you’ll find more subtle burnout signs in how you perform.
Staying focused is difficult when you have too much on your plate, and you may render lower quality results. You might also make lots of seemingly insignificant mistakes. Not only do these take time to fix (thus delaying other tasks), but they can also add up quickly and throw you into a full-blown crisis.
You’ll notice when something is off. Find what makes it difficult and deal with it. For example, you might get to work tired after the morning rush of getting yourself and your children ready for the day.
Go to bed earlier to have an extra 30 minutes in the morning. Prepare your clothes, breakfast, and everyone’s lunches in the evening. Get to work 15 minutes earlier and have a cup of tea or coffee to unwind before you start work.
7. You experience changes in routine
You’re usually super organized and lately you’ve been so messy you can’t find anything anymore. Or you used to enjoy taking your time drinking your morning coffee and now you have no time to breathe while you run around the house getting ready.
Of course, as a single mother, your mornings, evenings, and everything in between, are busy. But if you don’t make time for a break, the constant stress will affect your wellbeing. Find new routines that fit your schedule and stick to them.
8. You don’t take care of yourself
Does being a mommy take up all your personal time? The kids and housework demand most (if not all) your personal time, and it’s not long before you find it acceptable to shower sparingly. Not to mention the word ‘elegant’ left your vocabulary and your wardrobe a long time ago.
Remember the advice they give you on airplanes? In case of emergency, place your oxygen mask first, then help others, or children, with theirs.
Apply the same advice to your own life. Take care of yourself, so you can be in the best shape to take care of your kids.
If any symptoms (fatigue, lack of sleep, irritability etc.) persist over several weeks, don’t be afraid to seek professional advice. Talk to your doctor.
How do you know you really need a break? What are your signs of burnout?