I’m excited to introduce the first in a Sometimes Series called “I’m a Penelope and I…” This debut piece is by a smart, powerful mama named Renee Brown. She’s tackled being a single parent, and ALL the organization that takes, like a true Penelope.
Here are her thoughts:
Being a single parent is like being a superhero.
- You must be crafty, strategic and on guard 24/7.
- You’ve gotta be ready to anticipate situations so you can swoop in to save your child from harm’s way.
- And when you’re not trouble shooting or saving the day, you are planning – always planning (hopefully by making lists on highly attractive note pads).
That’s where being a Penelope AND a single parent becomes an unstoppable, beautiful combination. You can whip paperwork into submission, organize the rapidly-multiplying Lego collection in record time, and still manage to write holiday thank you notes in a timely fashion.
Through my time of raising two strong-willed, spirited boys on my own, I learned some straight-up precious tricks that became habits, designed to make our lives easier.
I’m talkin’ game changers here, folks.
Take a look and implement as you see fit:
1) I would always fill my car with gas when the tank fell below half full, so I’d never be racing to get somewhere and have to stop for gas.
2) I tried my very best to keep Friday nights free to relax. That was what kept me sane because, by the end of the week, I was severely depleted from five days of work, commuting, daycare drop-offs/pickups and endless errands.
Friday night was pizza and root beer night, and being home meant the boys could stay up a bit longer telling stories in the dark with their flashlights. In turn, I could gratefully change into my sweats, plan out the weekend and finally, once they were asleep, have that “congrats, you made it through another week!” celebratory glass of wine. Small gesture, giant reward.
3) Saturday mornings were homemade pancakes, waffles or French toast. I would double the recipe and freeze the extras, meaning there was always something for breakfast in the freezer, no matter how close it was to payday.
4) Another big plus that made a big difference included having a meal plan and creating a grocery list to match it. Now, I really didn’t enjoy this task, but the discipline of actually doing it was easier than standing in front of the cupboards with whiny, famished children tugging on me.
I kept meals very simple and somewhat balanced. Having a good variety of quick foods on hand was such a relief at the end of the day.
5) On the weekends, I had the boys take rest time after lunch, which was one hour in their rooms where they could nap or play quietly. Sometimes I’d push it as long as I could (which was pretty easy, since they couldn’t tell time, ha!), or I’d allow them the privilege of sharing rest time together. They’d work really hard to play cooperatively so they could have this special treat again and I had extra me time to do whatever.
A big key here? No guilt about needing (and taking) this time for me to recharge.
6) In the summer, we’d spend most of the day at a park or in our backyard. We soaked up the sun and ran through the sprinkler. We gardened , played in the sandbox and hung clothes on the line. It was a simple time in many ways.
We stayed close to home much of the time. There wasn’t a lot of extra money and my boys were so very curious that it was hard to keep track of two in public by myself.
My kids are older now and I have the wisdom and perspective to see that, somehow, it ALWAYS works out. And when things don’t work the way you envisioned them in your pretty little head, you tweak them. Don’t be bound by thinking you must live your life a certain way. I mean, that’s the rub about being a Penelope, right?
Bottom line is you need to do what’s best for your family in a way that celebrates and appreciates everyone’s temperament. And when you are whirling through the days, remember to step back and take a mental snapshot now and again.
This is your life, after all. Own it.
And always, always celebrate it.
About the Author:
Renee lives in the Twin Cities and is the mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary, plus two obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive in advertising and an avid reader, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.