It's Single Parents day and at we easyStorage know it's the hardest job in the world so you might find a few tips in here to help!
Parenting is the toughest job in the World, alongside being one of the most rewarding. It’s unpaid, 24 hours a day, full of conflicts and you can’t hand in your notice!
Double this if you’re a single parent, when everyday things like taking a shower, or even going to the toilet, create moral dilemmas about leaving baby alone for a moment - or even a choice between ‘shower or sleep?’
So we salute you, single parents.
Life becomes messy as children grow up. As babies they bring the paraphernalia of baby beds, chairs, eating and heating tools…. Then they become toddlers, and suddenly the lounge becomes a playground. They start school and the friends, the sleepovers, the schoolwork enters your lives. And just when we think we have it licked, they become teenagers, which is its own expensive mix of heaven and hell.
For a two-parent family, it can be exhausting. For single parents, it’s a juggling act, usually undertaken on a tight budget, in a smaller space than we would like, and on a single battery.
At easyStorage we can’t take care of babysitting or offer parenting advice, but we do know a thing or two about organisation and making space. To that end, we’ve put together a few handy tips that might work for you.
To do lists are your friend - as well as a calendar.
The trouble with online calendars is that each tool has a different system, so Facebook and Google won’t necessarily know which each other is doing.
At easyStorage all of us use a single system for bookings, so there’s no trouble there – it’s a shame that our personal lives can’t be that simple! So we recommend a good old fashioned paper diary for putting everything in – that way you’ll never miss a dress up day, INSET day or doctor’s appointment again.
If it’s with you all the time, those birthdays and playdates go straight in whilst you’re still at the school gates. Phew!
With either Excel or Google sheets, it’s easy to set up a list by month of expected payments. Money is rarely sloshing around as a single parent, so not getting caught out by an insurance payment or car service because you know when it’s due, is a major boon.
Start by entering all of those payments for the last year, so you can spot increasing or decreasing bills, and will be able to drop off any unnecessary payments or change supplier if things are looking tough.
Having done last years, create this years, using last years figures as estimates if required. Putting estimates in one colour of form and changing it when you have ‘actuals’ lets you see at a glance what’s still to come each month.
3. Break big projects into small ones
The other scarce thing for single parents is time.
Give yourself a break. If you split big projects like reorganisation – almost inevitable as children grow older - into smaller chunks, you can take them on as you’re ready, call for help when needed, and get the children doing their bits too.
4. Keep thing appropriately accessible
Whilst the ‘rugrats’ are still crawling, you won’t want toilet cleaner etc in accessible spots. But having things like that accessible for them to help you as they grow up will make your life – and theirs – less stressful.
It might be extra blankets that need to be accessed. It might be their clothes. It may be keeping sports kit in a fixed place.
Every family – and child - is different, and you may have to sacrifice a tiny bit of ‘tidy’ for accessible if you want to stay sane!
5. See your garage as an extension to your home
If you’re lucky enough to have garage space, keep it tidy, of course, but don’t forget that it can be the perfect space for storing bulky racquets, hockey sticks etc, and a great changing station for football or walking boots (as long as they don’t get taken off and forgotten until they’re needed!).
6. Colour coding
If you have more than one child, colour coding is your friend – whether allocating tasks (perhaps to earn pocket money) or keeping a diary, highlighters, post its etc not only help you, but for younger children, in particular, can make a boring list look a lot less intimidating.
Some parents even go as far as colour coding everything that goes into a school bag (all red books and pencils, all bright yellow etc). It can make sibling battles over whose mess that is a lot easier to resolve.
Routines can give a sense of security to children. They can be reassuring and even trigger positive behaviours. For example, if Dad’s always helping repack school bags (note, not doing it all himself!) on a Sunday night, they know the school week starts tomorrow and understand that tonight won’t be a late night.
If you always have fish on a Friday, the weekend’s about to start.
If they have to clean off their football boots on a Monday for football on Wednesday, they can look forward to their football unstressed about whether their kit will be ready.
The same applies to kit going straight into the wash bin, tooth cleaning etc. Eventually those routines become second nature and your life can become so much easier.
8. Have fun with the youngsters
Fun can be inexpensive.
If you shop in the same place regularly, do they exchange points earned on your weekly shop to exchange for days out?
Picnics, play parks, baking, board games…. Think what you can do together to have fun.
Charity shops usually check all the pieces are in any games that they sell on – and you’ll be helping others as well as yourself.
9. Make time for you
You’re on your own. So things like set bedtimes (see routine, above) – or at least going to their rooms - can be a lifesaver, giving you time to do things for you and your sanity.
It may be tidying around. It may be a hot bath. It may be a date with your favourite soap. A walk with the dog. Time in the gym. Whatever will help recharge your batteries has to be a good thing. None of us need to pretend to be wonderwoman or superman. (They don’t really exist!)
There are always helpers – be that an after school club, or willing grandparents, the children’s other parent or a friend prepared to babysit - or even just come round and stay in with you and a cup of tea. Look around and find them and take advantage! As long as you’re not taking the micky, it can be fun for all!
One of the hardest things as a parent is maintaining boundaries. Being a single parent can be guilt-ridden, and people’s perceptions can affect you. Don’t take it on board. Do your best and create firm boundaries/guidelines for both the children and adults around you. There will always be lapses – don’t let them become habits, or give in because it’s quicker and easier to do something yourself. You’ll be making a rod for your own back.
10. Have your home how YOU want it
You may love having paint and pictures and creative projects in progress on full view so you can celebrate and see progress. Maybe that kind of ‘mess’ isn’t something you can live with.
If there’s anything good about being a single parent, it’s that you don’t have to consider someone else’s view or accommodate them.
So don’t pay any attention to people whose own homes are immaculate if you choose to spend your time instead with your children, or take any flack from crafting friends about not giving the children enough creative expression. Do what’s right and what works for you and your family.
If you’re getting ‘stick’ from friends, you’ll need to grow a thick skin, ‘cock a deaf ear’, or find better friends.
This is your home, your life, and if others want to offer advice, suggest they help out!
Some of our past blogs may well resonate with you:
Happy Single Parents’ Day
However you’re choosing to single parent, we salute you.
And if you choose to put things in storage, either while you make changes to your life or as a lifestyle option, here’s a discount code, valid on storage booked through March and April, specifically for single parents to help ease the load: SUPERPARENTS20
(Quotes for storage are available with no obligation, 24/7, through our online booking system:https://book.easystorage.com/ ) For more tips and helpful advice visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.