Being a single parent is time-consuming—but that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy trying to make it all work.
“I chuckle at those who feel sorry for me. Yes, single parenting might not be the easy path, but I have my tricks and hacks that kind of mean it’s a breeze. I mean, it’s just like parenting as a pair: you find your rhythms, your routines. Only in ours there’s just one adult rather than two,” says Alice Judge-Talbot, single mom and owner of the parenting blog, More Than Toast.
As you find your rhythms and routines, use these ideas to get more done in less time. You may be surprised at how much of a difference small changes can make.
Turn a Good Friend Into a (Paid) Helper
Being a single parent means you have one less set of hands—so everything takes more time, if you’re lucky to get it done at all. Jenn Lyons, mother and activist, talks about this in Single Parent Life Hacks: Work, Dating and Wellness. It’s easy to think a new partner will solve this problem, but you may be looking for the wrong solution:
“Many single parents are out there dating, looking for a companion or even a future spouse. For a long time, I thought this strategy would make my life easier. Then I came across the idea of a ‘mother’s helper’—a friend (who I pay) comes over once a week to play with my daughter while I make dinner and help me take care of ‘house stuff’,” explains Lyons.
Not only does this give you time to to get things done, but it’s beneficial to your child as well, says Lyons: “My daughter benefits from more engagement and I go to bed more relaxed because my to-do list has been cut in half.”
Find Someone Else to Wash and Fold Your Laundry
Kids go through a seemingly endless amount of clothing each week and getting it all washed, folded, and put away is a herculean feat—not to mention one of the most time-consuming tasks on your to-do list. What if you could eliminate two of those three steps and have your clothes washed and folded for you?
To take back all the time you spend in the laundry room, take your clothes with a wash and fold service like CD One Price Cleaners, a company that’s practically made for single moms: “We can turn around 200 garments, dry cleaned, pressed, inspected and bagged, in one hour. 100 garments laundered per hour.” Find one of their dry cleaners or look for a comparable option in your area. Features that are ideal for a single mom include:
- Same-day pick-up
- Home drop off services
- Flexible pricing options
- Email or text notifications when laundry is done
Do Grocery Curbside Pick-Up
Going to the grocery store is nearly always an ordeal, no matter how old your children are. Getting there is a challenge in itself, much less finishing in a timely fashion, all without a meltdown or screaming match about the candy they want at the cash register.
Avoid the mess altogether—and save a lot of time—by bypassing the store. Instead, do curbside pickup. Most grocery stores now offer this service, including a variety of national chains like Walmart, all Kroger stores, and even Whole Foods.
A similar option is online grocery shopping with a service like Amazon Fresh. If you have Amazon Prime already, the only cost is $5 per order for delivery. Otherwise, you find what you need online while the kids are fast asleep and wait for everything to arrive on your doorstep.
Cook for An Army—And Then Store It
Cooking is shockingly exhausting after a long day of work and errands, especially if you wake up early for a little me-time before the kids wake. Take the burden off your shoulders by cooking one or two large meals on Sunday and then freeze them for the week. Better yet, portion everything out into containers so you can heat up just enough for the night or let the kids pick and choose what they want that night.
If you don’t have a lot of freezer space, you can still save time by prepping on Sunday. Chop all your veggies, cook your meat (or just marinate it), make the pasta, etc. “One of my mom friends swears by Sunday meal preparation… My friend says she shreds cheese, washes lettuce, peels and cuts fruit, steams vegetables, and cooks pasta and quinoa,” says Chay Bayla, author of 5 Solo Mom Hacks for Saving Time.
With all these components taken care of, you can grab and go for a quick meal at the end of the day.
Remember: Even Superman and Superwoman Take Shortcuts
At the end of the day, you have to remember: it may not all get done—and that’s okay. Use help where you can get it — whether you have laundry done for you or order your groceries online — and relish in the extra time to hang with your kids or relax with a good book.
About the Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time writer and content marketing consultant. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter at @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips, and more.