“6 Steps to Becoming a Successful Single Mom in 2021” was originally published on the Life of a Single Mom website, February 7, 2021.
What is a success, anyway?
What does it mean to be a success? I think “success” is a tricky word because most people associate success with money or wealth. But I know plenty of wealthy people who are miserable. I believe success, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. When you’re a single mom, especially navigating a year like we just had, success may be as simple as a bath at the end of the day. So, how do you set yourself up for success? Here are six steps to help you become a successful singnle mom:
1. Define What Success Means to You
I love these synonyms for success: prosperity, happiness, achievement, and progress. You get to decide what success means to you. When we define success for ourselves, we are better able to ignore the definitions and opinions of others. By getting crystal clear about what is truly important to us and taking small steps in that direction each day, we can create the life we really want. Not what your parents, siblings, or ex-in-laws want, but what you want.
I’m sure it’s safe to say we all want to be good mothers. It’s not our only role, and we’ll continually get pulled in a thousand different directions, but I think “mom” is our most important title. So, what does it mean to be a “good mom?” It’s different for each of us. We are unique, and our children are unique. I don’t know about your kids, but my two are complete opposites in every way – I can’t parent them even remotely the same.
Your children weren’t born to anyone but you, and you know your children better than anyone else. Therefore, God will guide you in the direction your children need. He sent each child to us specifically because we are the perfect mom for them. We’re not perfect, but we’re perfect for them. I used to think I was failing every day, and all these other moms had it all figured out. Their kids’ clothes were perfect and matching. They were always on time. They looked perfectly groomed and manicured, and I was skidding in on two wheels, ten minutes late for everything. My daughter wouldn’t even let me touch her hair and it always looked like a rats nest! She never wanted to wear what I wanted her to wear. I just thought it better to save our sanity and let her wear whatever she wants. I just had to let go of things that really didn’t matter and figure out what was really important, instead of focusing on things that made me appear like I had my shit together. I love the quote from John Wooden who says,
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
How we appear doesn’t matter. How we truly ARE matters.
Define what it means to be a successful single mom. When you’re not distracted, spend time thinking about what makes you feel like a good mom. It could be reading bedtime stories, picking up your kid(s) from school instead of taking the bus, having a family movie night – you decide. You don’t have to do everything, but what actions make YOU feel like a good mom.
2. Make Small Quantifiable Goals
You can’t measure “create more memories.” And if you can’t measure it, how do you know when you’ve accomplished it? Make sure when defining what matters to you, you are making your goals small and quantifiable.
If your overall goal is to be a good mother, and you’ve determined “good mothers” spend quality time with their kids without phones and distractions, then create a small quantifiable goal around quality time. What is an activity that means the most to you, and when will you do it? I’ve included some examples below:
- I’ll go to church every Sunday with my family.
- I’ll plan a family outing on the first Saturday of every month to a park or museum.
- I’ll serve dinner at the table three nights a week.
- I’ll host a family game night every Monday at 7 pm.
When my kids were little, I decided the most important time I spent with them was reading at night. But if I didn’t start early enough, I would fall asleep after five minutes of reading and deny all of us the most important thing! So I made a goal to read one hour per night and moved up bedtime, so we started earlier.
Decide what is most important to you, and then make a small quantifiable goal you can achieve.
3. Decide What YOU Need to Feel Good
You give so much to your family, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of them – yes, it’s true! What’s one thing you can do for yourself to feel good and accomplish what you need to accomplish? What does your heart need? What do your mind and body need?
For me, I need to get up early for my morning routine, where I write in my journal and spend the first 30-45 minutes getting centered and planning my day. I write down things I’m specifically grateful for, and wins from yesterday so I can focus on everything that is going RIGHT. Then I write my goals and what I need to accomplish that day.
I feel better when I read more. Reading helps me learn, grow, and improve, but I can’t achieve a goal to “read more.” So, I made a goal to read 12 books this year. That’s one book per month. If the average book is about 300 pages, that’s only 10 pages a day. Twelve books seem impossible, but ten pages are absolutely doable!
If starting a new habit seems overwhelming, break it down into small, tiny steps you know you can take. If a 30-minute walk seems impossible, start with 10 minutes the first week with the goal of adding five minutes a week until you hit 30. If you know you need to drink more water, add one additional bottle of water a day vs. starting with cutting out soda completely. Maybe instead of thinking of everything you should delete from your diet, think of one thing you can add. One salad, one side of vegetables. Start small.
4. Find Your “Why”
My “Why” for being successful is I want to live long enough and have enough energy to play with my great-grandchildren. I know we can’t decide how long we’ll live, but if we want to give ourselves the best chance possible, we have to take precious care of this body we’ve been given.
Plus, what’s good for your mind is good for your body and vise versa. What small quantifiable goal can you make to feel better? I like to hike and take walks outside, so my husband and I made a quantifiable goal to hike 600 miles this year (about 12 miles per weekend). I put it on my calendar, and every Saturday and every Sunday, we hike, get a little Vitamin D and listen to an audiobook. Not only do I feel good when I do it, but no matter what happens that week, I know I have something to look forward to. Finding your “why” and purpose for living will give you a clearer vision and help you become a more successful single mom in 2021.
5. Check Your Environment
Look around your home. Is there anything that gives you an overwhelming, anxious feeling? Anything you wish was different? We can’t feel our best if our home is in chaos.
When my kids were little, my house was a disaster. I wanted a fun place for my kids to play and create, and that’s exactly what we had. They would put mattresses on the stairs to slide down and tie blankets to the banisters to make hammocks. The couch cushions were never on the actual couch. They were walls for a fort, duh! But I finally realized that a constant mess equals stress, and having zero order in my house was not a peaceful situation for mom.
Order in your home creates order in your mind and allows you to create more peace and joy. Does this mean everything has to be in its place at all times? No. Start small. I just did a little bit at a time. Choose one room per week (or even a closet) to organize. Those small steps will slowly chip away at the chaos in your home and your mind.
6. Celebrate Your Wins!
Make sure to document and celebrate when you accomplish small wins! Am I saying you should pat yourself on the back because you cleaned out a closet or took a ten-minute walk? Yes! Yes, I am. Small wins add up to big things, and internally, you are firing up your own self-confidence and self-worth, which permeates into everything we do.
So, here’s to 2021 being your most successful year yet – however that looks for YOU.
Wishing you lots of love,