I get a lot of questions from you about being a single mom and balancing it with my career and blogging, how I do it, and requests to share tips.
To be honest I’ve put off writing this post because I don’t have it all figured out. No no not even close. Blogging portrays only a certain, tiny sliver of life and I think can project a very idealized version of reality. So it feels uncomfortable for me, with all my struggles, to get on here and give you my fellow Mamas, advice. To be honest there’s so much I’ve learned from many of you.
But since this is a request I get, I spent the last week thinking about the topic and the specific things I’ve done that helped me get to where I am today- blessed with my healthy, happy five year old, a career I love, a home and a blog that’s given me the gift of community with you. The more I thought about it, there seemed to be six things that made the difference for me in my journey and getting to where I am today.
Ok, – deep breath- 😉
- Realize you and ONLY YOU set your limits as a mom. Not society, not your friends, not even your family. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to buy a house when Juliana was 4 months old, get promoted twice when she was a toddler, travel coast to coast to coast, or run a blog that thousands of people read every week. Single moms don’t do those things, right? Or do they? I never listened to anyone else’s limits. And neither should you. Don’t even subconsciously let anyone else set your limits- you get to set them, so set them high!
2. Set your mindset. I was in a tough place when Juliana was about five months old- I was two and a half months back to work and frustrated over never getting a break as a single mom. I compared myself to other people whose lives seemed so much better. I had a negative mindset but I wasn’t self aware enough to even realize it. Then I went to an event put on by the Network of Exectuive Women where Jon Gordon talked about ‘The Power of Positive Leadership’. Ladies, I drank the kool aid straight up and it’s the best thing I ever did. I got Jon’s book ‘The Energy Bus‘ and listened to it in my car then put his rules into practice. What followed was a complete shift in my mindset- and I can’t tell you how much adjusting my everyday mindset changed everything. Everything. Once I started to think differently, I started to act differently, and that’s when all kinds of opportunities started to open up. I truly believe your mindet is the ultimate deciding factor for the success you eventually achieve because your behavior follows from it.
3. Embrace hard work- but reframe it. One of the things I heard over and over when I was expecting Juliana was how hard it would be. Once I had her, friends and neighbors would tell me they didn’t know how I did it as a single mom because being a mom is ‘so hard’. I’m so glad I kept hearing it, because when Juliana was an infant I made an important decision. I decided to embrace ‘hard’ work and not fight it- but I refused to think of it that way. When I got home from a long day, I refused to think of it as a ‘hard’ day, and instead reflected on it as a productive day, full of challenges I had overcame and things accomplished that got me slightly closer to my goals. At Pure Barre, they’d tell us ‘Your mind gives up before your body does’. At Orangetheory, the instructor coaches, “Get your mind right’. Mindset is EVERYTHING friends. If you focus on how hard something is, it will feel exhuasting and you’ll want a break; if you focus on something else, for example what you’re achieving, it will feel invigorating and you’ll want to keep going.
4. Get in good habits. Good habits are crucial to success. When something is a habit, it’s second nature so you don’t even think about it- you just do it every time. The good habits that helped me get to where I am are maintaining a positive outlook each day, keeping my commitments (even when I really don’t want to), getting enough sleep, working out four times a week, and always putting in 100%, no cutting corners. Cultivating good habits isn’t easy, but for me it’s been the foundation for success.
5. Say YES to opportunities, then find out a way to make them happen. When Juliana was one, an opportunity came up to work as an Account Manager for Turkey Hill. The role was two steps up from where I was at Altria, but the position terrified me AND involved travel. I had my child care situation 90-95% solidified when I accepted the offer from Turkey Hill. Was I scared? Yes, but I knew that if I said yes I would absolutely find a good solution, and find one I did. When an opportunity comes your way, don’t turn it down because you don’t have everything set to accept it. Say yes and then find a way to make it happen!
6. Accept help. I think as women we sometimes feel like we need to do it all, but the reality is we will never, ever achieve our dreams if we don’t delegate- and actively seek- help on the way. I lean on Ridge for certain things. I have a cleaning lady help with the house. I ask my friend if she can watch Juliana so I can go to Orangetheory. There is always a way to get help, and you have to get comfortable asking.
If there’s one thing I want to leave you with, it is this:
it’s ok to listen to what others tell you about this beautiful, wonderful, messy, terrifying mom role, but it’s up to you to write the rules. Take the time to get clear on what YOU really, really want and then really bravely go after it. And chances are the example you set for your little ones will be pretty awesome.
You can tell her she can be anything she wants, but how much cooler is it to show her?
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PS If you’re a (single) mommy reading this, send me a note firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to connect with and support you. <3