I’m a single mom of two. My current childcare is preschool and elementary school, both with aftercare and rarely any help at home. My kids are not morning people, nor am I truthfully. To make this work, I had to become much more organized.
- Prepare everything the night before:
- Prepare the coffee maker so it only needs the on button.
- Make lunches.
- Lay out clothes, including yours.
- Set out toothbrushes, contact lenses, sunscreen, and anything else you use in the morning.
- Set the table for breakfast.
- Pour milk into thermos cups and store in fridge at kid level.
- Food on the go
- Pack healthy snacks in your bag in case they’re starving at pickup.
- Be ready to pack up their breakfast if they don’t finish. Consider crumbs when deciding what to bring along. For instance, z bars are easy to eat in the car, though not the perfect nutrition. Muffins make a mess of the carseat, and my kids even spill the yogurt tubes (though they love them in their lunches).
- Move it along. This is my biggest challenge because my kids want to stop the morning routine to play a game, draw, make a puzzle, goof off, you name it! We do races (who can get ready first?!), putting the elder in charge (can you help your sister go potty? You’re so GOOD with her.), incentives (stickers) and more.
- Leave the breakfast dishes. They will wait for you in the sink. I have learned, by necessity, to let it go until nighttime.
- Shower at night. That’s your shower, not your child’s. For your children, wash hair once or twice a week, and offer a wash cloth bath when you are pressed for time.
- If you work from home, lay out everything for dinner and bedtime as you do for the morning.
- If you work at an office, think ahead after your kids go to bed and prepare for the next dinner and bedtime routine:
- Lay out pajamas, wash cloths, and anything needed for the routine.
- Prepare (or buy) an easy to reheat dinner. My kids won’t even wait for the oven to heat up most nights.
- Double check that any loveys are in your child’s bed, lest they panic at bedtime the next day.
- Run a load of laundry while you are working.
- Bedtime. Choose an ideal time based on when your child will fall asleep easily but also wake up on time. This can be challenging based on napping or not napping during the daytime. My children did best dropping their naps early and having an early bedtime, but it does make evenings rushed.
- Cooking? What’s that? Microwave or nothing here! Occasionally treating with delivery from munchery.com.
- Groceries? Try a delivery service. From instacart to safeway.com, make your life easier. Consider ease of both cooking and cleaning when choosing groceries. Costco and Trader Joe’s have amazing prepared food for reasonable prices, if you are open to the idea.
- Laundry? I do one weekend load of darks and lights to avoid the weekday crush, and try to manage with one weekday load. A great time for me to run the clothes is right at bedtime, then I set an alarm to put the clothes in the dryer, where they remain for the next 24 hours unless my children want to dig out a favored item.
- Mama’s Reward. After the kids are asleep, and you’ve finished your prepping, treat yourself to a glass of wine and a show or book, not child related!
- Test Week. Your first week will be your test. Ask yourself as you do the morning and evening routines, could I have done this in advance to make it easier?
- Take a Break! Occasional help, if you can afford it, is a lifesaver. Hire a sitter or ask a friend to watch your kid so that you can go to dinner with friends or attend a meeting. You need to recharge to keep burn out at bay.
What are your tips for parenting alone?
This list is spot on Vicki! If there is 1 thing I can add, maybe the time management, it would be to get the grocery shopping done on a Sunday and perhaps plan the week’s meals that day. Not much for other people doing my shopping.