Running a household and getting the kids out the door to school isn’t easy. For many single moms, it’s not much different than parenting with an unsupportive spouse, however. When I first went back to work I had zero support. Laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, daycare, yard work, I did it all while my ex sat and played video games.
In some ways, becoming a divorced mom has been easier because I have time off to get on top of these chores. But I also don’t want to spend all my free time cleaning! So here are a few single mom hacks that I’ve come up with to make my life easier. Maybe they’ll help out some of you.
At the moment, I’m working a full-time job and keeping up with my freelance schedule on the side. I don’t have time to run to the store for food or toilet paper so I’ve started using Instacart and other services.
If you live in an urban, or semi-urban, area, it’s not hard to find delivery services. Most major grocery stores offer them now. You can shop through an app on your phone and come home from work to find them on your front porch. While they charge fees, they’ll often offer free delivery specials.
Here’s a trick: if you haven’t used their service in a few weeks, Instacart and others will send emails offering free delivery. If you rotate which service you use, you’ll rarely have to pay. Or you can ask family to buy you a yearly membership as a holiday or birthday present. Also, I’ve cut back on my grocery bills without even trying because I’m impulse shopping in-store!
House cleaning services are next up. Okay, they’re not cheap, but…go to Groupon and look at how many deals there are out there. You can buy a package for under a hundred dollars. Ask for gift certificates as presents, too. Even if you can’t afford it every month, a deep clean by a service on a quarterly basis cuts back on the maintenance cleaning.
Laundry. Ugh. Before I had a kid I never understood why my friends complained so much about laundry. Now I get it. Did you know that dry cleaners offer wash, dry, fold services And many urban areas have locker drop-offs in apartment or large office buildings. The locker services typically charge by the bag or pound. Weigh your laundry on the bathroom scale before dropping it off and, pro tip: don’t do towels or sheets. They’re too heavy and will drive up the cost. It’s slightly more expensive than what I have to pay for laundry at my apartment’s laundromat but worth it.
If you’ve built your single mom circle, you should be able to find help. Enroll your kid in afterschool activities with a friend and arrange to split the drop-offs and pick-ups with another mom. Need a few hours on the weekend to get some work done? Play dates at one another’s houses can ease the burden.
If you, like me, don’t have a family nearby who can help, work on finding other moms to share the load. Obviously, it should be reciprocal and balance out. You can also double up on grocery shopping and other errands, too, if they’re not available in your area or you really can’t afford it. Share your shopping lists and offer to take turns picking up groceries every other week.
It does take a village to raise a child, but most of us no longer live in tight-knit communities or small towns. Other moms are struggling, too, but many of us are too proud or ashamed to raise our hands and ask for help. You might be able to get help and help out at the same time.
When it comes down to it, I’m not naturally a particularly organized person in my private life. I’ve had to improve that skill in order to survive as a single mom. All my son’s lunches are made on Sunday night before the week begins. I’ve got a standard food order on every app – GrubHub or Bite Squad for the nights that dinner just isn’t happening. Standard grocery orders mean that I can place an order with one tap.
Whatever can be done in advance – do it. Plan out your week and organize your calendar, even if it is like pulling teeth (mental note, kid is due for a dentist appointment). I’ve even recommended setting up standard first date nights and times. Like Saturday’s at 4pm for coffee. Do whatever you can to get in control of your life.
With a little bit of work on the front end, life can get much easier as a whole. Definitely worth the effort.
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