I am just over one year into my co-parenting journey, and although it has been extremely hard, I feel like I have finally found my flow, especially when it comes to managing my household.
For context, my daughters are two-years-old and nine-years old. Harlow is in nursery 1.5 days a week so that I can work from home. The main issue for me has always been juggling working from home with housework, life admin and making time for myself. I went through so many stages of overwhelm last year and would find myself being irritable with my older daughter, Amber. Things are much better now. Communication is key as is self-compassion. Here is a breakdown of how I currently manage my household as a single parent.
Meal planning/Food shop:
Meal planning has always been the biggest cause of decision fatigue for me, so I knew that it was something that I wanted to prioritise. I set aside time on a Sunday (usually during Harlow’s nap time) to write our meals for the week, prioritising ingredients that I already have available or that need to be used up soon. I am a confident cook, so I usually put together my own recipes, but sometimes I’ll look for inspiration from BBC Good Food and Jamie Oliver. I don’t drive, so doing a big food shop can be hard, especially when I have Harlow with me, so for this reason, I do an online food shop from Asda (although I’m loving Iceland at the moment too). I find that it’s much easier to stick to my budget when shopping online. I will then do a top-up shop from Aldi for specific snacks that the girls like and bread/milk.
My breakfast is always made the night before, overnight oats is my usual choice, but I also love egg muffins. This means that I can wake up a bit earlier than the girls and have my breakfast and coffee before seeing to them.
Tidying toys is one of my least favourite jobs, but Harlow is really good at putting her toys away now and always says “I did it myself” when she is finished. Amber helps to tidy Harlow’s toy kitchen while I put Harlow to bed, so that we can relax in a tidy living room and watch an episode of her favourite together before bedtime.
Amber isn’t a fan of tidying her bedroom. What nine-year-old is? This can often be a battle. So I try to keep on top of it once a week and then every other Saturday we’ll spend a few hours de-cluttering.
My kitchen is tiny, so it doesn’t take much for it to look messy and cluttered. I am one of those annoying people who cleans as they cook (I get that from my step-dad) and I always do the dishes (by hand as I don’t have a dishwasher) after dinner or before bed. I just can’t cope with waking up to a dirty kitchen.
If I could afford to outsource any household task it would be laundry! I feel like my put away pile is always overflowing and it can be overwhelming. However, once I start, it’s not actually that bad. I usually choose something to watch on the bedroom TV while I fold it all. I love ‘The Morning Show’ on Apple TV. Amber loves folding laundry, so this is usually her contribution. I must add that I usually moan about my pile for 5-7 days, then am surprised when it only takes me an hour to complete.
This is ESSENTIAL as a single parent, or as the default parent. Sometimes you need to give yourself some self-compassion and acknowledge that maybe housework will have to take a backseat today or this week in order to make time for you. This is usually a Wednesday evening for me. I’ll have dinner and then just relax and catch up with a few episodes of Coronation Street or do a longer breathwork or meditation session. Whatever I need to reset the week.
The main thing for me is meal prep. It saves so much time, stress and money. I have also been using the air-fryer more as it’s quick and easier to clean.
I’m not going to lie, I find playdates at home quite overwhelming, so I will only let Amber invite friends over now and then. I work from home and need a clear space, and tidying up a messy room afterwards is not the one! We love doing playdates outdoors or to the cinema.
I think that I run quite a smooth ship. There are certain household tasks that I just struggle to fit in, like dusting the skirting boards, or dusting in general sometimes, but I do what I can around having a toddler at home.
Can you relate?