Battling Exhaustion as a Single Mom by Jennifer Maggio
Have you ever slept so hard that when you awakened you couldn’t remember where you were or how long you had been there? It’s only happened to me a few times, in life, as I’m not a great sleeper, in general, but a few months ago, it did. At 6pm, I came home from work, was in a conversation with my sweet daughter about the goings-on of her day, and slowly I began to drift off to sleep. I NEVER do that! I slept until 8:30pm. And I slept hard! I couldn’t even remember what day it was. My little one had fixed her dinner and was relaxed in front of the television. I had a small bite to eat and within an hour, I was back in bed and slept through the night. The next morning, my daughter said, “Mom, you must’ve been exhausted yesterday, huh?” It was an innocent enough question, but it was one that left my self-analyzing more than she knew. “Yes, sweet baby, yes I was.” And the truth is, the better answer would’ve been, “Yes, and I still am!”
I had been burning the candle at both ends for some time. In fact, I was burning it at both ends and multiple places in the middle! There was no way a human could keep up the pace I was setting and yet, here I was, starting my day with an endless list of tasks and demands. I realized I couldn’t go on with such demands. The danger of exhaustion is real for all of us, but never more so, for a single mom, who is balancing work, kids’ homework, financial demands, parenting decisions, and so much more.
Do you find yourself utterly exhausted today? Have you been battling exhaustion for a long time and simply don’t know what to do or how? Do you believe that it is possible to be well-rested AND a single mom? Read on:
- Learn to say no. Learn to say no to your kids, your church, your boss, friends, family, and whoever else you need to, in order to protect your sanity! I’ve often found that many struggle to say no for a barrage of reasons. Sometimes, it’s simply because we don’t want to hurt another’s feelings. Maybe it’s because we carry guilt over a past decision and feel forever indebted to another person or just in general. Whatever the case, I can assure you that the word “no” is the best word you can learn to say. Learn to embrace the God-given authority you have in your home and tell your kids “no” when you can’t afford something, when you are too exhausted to drive them to the birthday party, or even when you just know in your gut that it’s supposed to be a no. There’s great freedom in that response, sometimes.
- Put the phone down. I know this seems like such an insignificant thing to do, but it’s not. The advances of modern technology have afforded us many opportunities, including the joy of connecting with old classmates, enjoying photos of out-of-town family members, growing our businesses, or even meeting friends from other states or countries. However, the significance advancements of cell phones mean high levels of dependence on them. They are our camera, calculator, maps, and address books. They are our source of entertainment and communication. The problem is that most of us can’t pry our eyes away from the incessant and constant scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through social media, or editing of photos, or checking the texts. It’s endless. And it’s exhausting. Determine to put the phone away for a set time every day and not to pick it up at night after you’ve gone to bed. You will be shocked at how much time you save and how well-rested you feel.
- Learn the art of life balance. The balanced life is not an elusive life for you, just because you are a single mom. There is an ebb and flow to life. Maybe you are in a time of parenting, where your kids are playing sports and that means lots of practices and games, right now. It doesn’t mean you have to frazzled and exhausted all the time. Be proactive. Create a car pool roster with other working parents who can help each other out.
- Take time for the Lord daily. Too many of us complain about our to-do lists and the exhaustion we face and we use it as an excuse to not have daily time with the Lord. I’m reminded of what a dear friend said to me once. She said, “Jennifer, the Lord told me years ago that if I’d give him the first part of my day, He’d multiply my time.” The cool thing is that she is the mom of 7 children, so she really, really needs the extra time. She is one of the most organized and relaxed moms I know! She credits it all to her daily quiet time with the Lord.
- Evaluate your relationships. Sometimes our exhaustion is related to people who are “sucking the life” right out of us. They are the ones who always take and don’t give. They are the complainers, the naysayers, the ones who’s glass is always half-empty. Listen, we all have family members or even co-workers who are hard to deal with, but we don’t have to give them permission to monopolize our time or take advantage of us. Pray about those folks in your life who need to be one the once-a-quarter conversation schedule instead of the every-day conversation schedule, and move them around accordingly.
- Take the time to rest. Sometimes, the very best thing you can do for yourself is just remove everything from your list of tasks, call on a friend to come babysit, and just lay there in silence. Put your feed up, sip some coffee, and take some deep breaths. Meditate on God’s goodness and faithfulness. Turn the phone and tv off. Clear the schedule and simply “be”. There is great power in those moments, even if they are few and far between. It could be the very thing that fuels your ability to keep pressing on, instead of running on empty.
Jennifer Maggio is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom, a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. Having served more than 71,000 single mothers each year, the goal of the organization is establish support groups for single mothers in communities around the world. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s group. Our programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and parentally. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com