Successful Single Parenting

changeOne of my New Year’s promises was to redecorate my home. I said goodbye to the bold hues of red, gold, and green that colored the first floor of my home for nearly seven years and welcomed the more calming and modern colors of beige, blue, and brown.


This redecorating project took less than ten days from inception of idea to finishing touches. I was thrilled when it started and even more thrilled when it ended. What didn’t thrill me too much was the middle. But then again, I’m not really a fan of middles.

I’m an idea person. I get ideas all the time. I’m a problem solver. Give me a problem or challenge and I’ll give you at least three potential solutions.

That’s where it stops. As I said, I’m a beginning and ending kinda gal.

The ‘how’ of getting from the beginning to the end is not my strength anymore nor does it hold my interest. Oh yes, I have a slew of “how” ideas, but I don’t want to do them. I’m not quite sure what turned me away from my previous obsession with details, but details are for other people to handle now. Why?

Maybe it’s age? Maybe it’s wisdom? Maybe it’s just overwhelm.

As a single mom of two teenagers, with a full-time job, house to run, and “life-stuff” to do nearly every minute, you might say that it is simply exhaustion that has me itching to delegate every ounce of my life. But I think it may be something else.

I realized that perhaps it was not my disdain for middles that keeps me from wanting to carry out all of my great ideas. Perhaps it is simply that there were too many ideas. Perhaps I need to spring clean my idea list, or at minimum, let go of my newly- formed obsession with simplicity and efficiency and accept that life is always going to have messiness.

listThere is always going to be something in your life that demands your utmost attention and the other non-essential things will need to play a supporting role for a while. In some ways, it helps us to define what is really important.

Think about it. If your child is sick, the dirty dishes remain dirty. If you have a big project at work, responding to emails is secondary. If the water heater explodes, everything is ignored! (ahem..just a bit of advice. When the repairman tells you to replace your water heater, it’s a good idea to listen!)

What big mess do you have in your life right now that needs your full attention? What’s forcing you to push out the non-essential activities? It might be a demanding job, a sick parent or child, or maybe it’s a boatload of dumb stuff you THINK is important.

That’s right, I said it. There’s stuff in your life that you are wasting your time on that you need to get rid of. Now.

I’ve given this recommendation many times to mompreneurs, but now it’s time for you parents to listen up – especially single moms.

Here goes…

1. Write down what you do for an entire day. And I mean everything. Put down the start and end times and a brief description of the activity. Do this for three days. Then, leave your house and go to your favorite place with your list, a red pen, and a fresh piece of paper (or your iPad if that’s your thing.)

2.Take out your list and with red pen in hand, start marking the tasks that can be done by someone else (hint, this includes your kids!)

3. Next, cross off those non-essentials. You know what I mean. The hour on social media. The reading of endless newsletters (um… not mine of course!) Oh, and don’t just put a wiggly, weak red line through these items, make a conscious effort to remove them – FOREVER.

4. Then, take a look at what’s left. Anything that does not bring you joy in some way, remove it with the same gusto as the other items above.

5. Now, take a final look at what’s left on your daily activities. If you want, copy those remaining items onto a clean sheet of paper or notepad. It should be filled with ONLY the essential tasks to keep your life and your home running smoothly.

I guarantee that you’ve not only lightened your load, but I bet you found some time to do something for yourself. As busy single parents, we NEED time for ourselves. Even the Energizer bunny takes a break between commercials. And you are far more important to your children and family than our furry drum-beating friend.

Jen’s Gem: Eliminate the Non-essential Tasks and Live Life!


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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024