When you think about the definition of a life hack—a way to get a job done more easily, efficiently, and usually cheaper—does anyone need one more than a single mom? We have the same 24 hours as everyone else, but one fewer set of hands and often less cash to get the job done. Single mom hacks to the rescue!
A Meal Co-Op
This is a game-changer. Here’s how I did it. There were five of us and we picked Thursdays as our co-op day. One Thursday, I would cook for all five of our families and deliver the meals. Then I had the next four Thursdays off. No cooking or meal planning—and dinner arrived on my doorstep! Modify it to work for you.
Intentional Meal Prep
Sure, there are plenty of times when leftovers become tomorrow’s lunch, but often it’s by chance. When you’re planning your dinners, think of how you can stretch the meal so there will be guaranteed leftovers and no lunch prep for you. For example, we used to make a pound of ground beef on Taco Tuesdays and eat every last bite. Now I buy two cans of black beans to add to the beef and there is enough for my Wednesday taco salad lunch!
Dots and Lines
When my kids come home from their dad’s house, I never know what they’re going to be wearing. Sometimes it’s clothes I’ve purchased; sometimes it’s from their closet at his house. We try hard to send stuff back to the original purchaser, but eventually, everything starts to look the same! Take a Sharpie and make a mark (dad gets a dot, mom gets a line) where no one will see but you and dad—not even the kids. They don’t need that reminder. A little dot will make sorting a lot quicker.
In a single-parent family, everyone has to chip in, and for every age, there is an appropriate chore. You might feel bad for requiring your kids to do more chores, but studies show that doing household chores is a strong predictor of success later in life. So hand them the list and say, “You’re welcome!” Try out iMOM’s chore charts.
You might feel bad for requiring your kids to do more chores, but studies show that doing household chores is a strong predictor of success later in life.
Trigger Time Routine
What’s your trigger time? During those hours when you seem to get flustered faster, have a routine. Write it down. Make the kids check boxes if you have to. For me, it’s the hour before dinner. If the kids know what you expect of them and where they can look for a reminder, you’ll find that the triggers get pulled much less often.
I know that disposable income is scarce for single moms, but think about one thing that you could outsource to make life a little easier. Maybe you can’t afford to have a cleaning lady come twice a month, but could you spare $15 a week to pay a teen from the neighborhood to come fold laundry? Get creative and think of people who could use a little extra cash or some company.
A Shared Calendar
If you co-parent, one battle is keeping the lines of communication open. One of the most helpful tools my ex-husband and I use is a shared Google calendar. We use it to keep track of time-sharing, events where both of us need to be present, and special times when we need to “borrow” the kids from the other, like a visit from an out-of-town grandpa. If you’re going to use one, be sure to set ground rules like texting first instead of just adding an event and expecting the other to see it. It’s all about communication!
What single mom hacks have become life savers for you?