It’s almost time for 2016 to draw to a close, and 2017 to commence. For me it’s always a time of reflection of the year gone by and a time for thinking about resolutions and goals I want to achieve in the year ahead. I am a great believer in personal development, and I am always looking at ways to improve my health and happiness.
Here are 10 new habits to implement in the New Year, for the single mum looking at moving onward and upward. Some are resolutions that I set for myself in 2016, that worked for me and that I intend to continue, and others are things that I believe are important, and that I want to implement moving forward.
10 New Habits for a Single Mum to Implement in 2017
1. Practice Gratitude.
Practicing gratitude, and making an effort to feel grateful every single day, is a proven method of a way to feel happier, and was a new year’s resolution I set for 2016.
There is a difference between trying to feel grateful and taking the extra step to write down what you are grateful for. At the start of 2016 I made a resolution to write down three things I was grateful for every single day for the entire year. I bought a Gratitude Journal, and I wrote in it every single night before I went to sleep. I reflected on the day that was, and wrote down three things I was grateful for each day. I took the Journal with me whenever I went away, and I am proud to say that I did not miss a single day of writing in it this year.
And you know what? It worked!! Within two months I found myself automatically thinking about it throughout the day. Whenever something good or positive happened, I’d think “I feel grateful for this, and I’m going to include this in my journal entry for tonight”, and as the months went on, I found myself automatically feeling more grateful, especially for the little things. And as a result, I FELT HAPPIER!!!
Some people choose to write in their gratitude journal in the mornings, but for me I like to reflect on the day that has been, before I go to sleep. It isn’t even very time consuming. All it takes is a couple of minutes. It can be as simple as:
1. Having dinner with my family
2. Joe from work making me a coffee after lunch
3. The clean sheets I’m about to sleep in #nothingbetterthancleancrispsheets.
Actively practicing gratitude is something I intend to continue in 2017 and beyond. Try it for yourself!
2. Create a vision board.
I was never really a big believer in things like manifestation or the law of attraction until I decided to try it out this past year for myself. Don’t knock something until you try it right? The general idea is to keep believing that you have something, or a situation in your life that you want, and it’s supposed to happen. Sounds a bit voodoo right? But whatever. I decided to try it in 2016, and so I went out to buy a vision board.
I wanted to pictorialize my vision for what I wanted for the year, so I included pictures of what I wanted. These included a microphone (to symbolise the podcast I wanted to launch), an image of my website which I wanted to launch, a picture of Fiji (where I wanted to take my daughter after a legal dispute with her dad to get her a passport), and more. I also included inspirational quotes.
I put the vision board on the wall opposite my bed so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up, and the last thing I saw before going to sleep. I looked at it every day and imagined myself doing the things I put on my vision board. I imagined myself talking into a microphone and recording a podcast, I imagined me and my daughter playing together on the beach in Fiji, and I imagined all the other things that I put on my vision board.
The crazy thing is, that it worked! As the year went on, I started achieving all the things I had on my vision board, and as 2016 comes to an end I am proud (and very astounded) that every single thing I put on my vision board came true! As 2017 starts, I am going to create a new vision board with new goals, and new things I want to achieve. Try it out for yourself! I highly recommend it.
3. Start dating.
If you’re anything like me, dating has probably not been a priority. Who has time (or money) for dating, when there’s raising children, earning an income, paying bills, trying to get enough exercise and sleep etc. to worry about. Particularly, if like me, you have your kids 100% of the time. IT IS HARD WORK!!!!!
Personally I would rather spend time with my daughter, and people I already know and like, than with some weirdo off an internet dating site. But I have also come to the realisation that I DO want to find the right person for me; that special someone to grow old with. One day my daughter will grow up and leave me (even though at 3, she has promised me she will not ever leave me, and I WILL hold her to that), and I do want someone to share my life with. I’d also love to have more children one day, and well, the biological clock is ticking. So in order to find the right person for me, I have to actively put in some effort to date. It’s unlikely the right person will simply arrive at my doorstep.
So moving into 2017, I do intend to put some time and effort into dating, and giving my somewhat jaded impression of love and relationships, a chance to change. And you should too, because we all deserve a great love in our life!
4. Get more sleep.
Two nights ago, I was lying in bed at 1 am reading. I had just started reading Arianna Huffington’s book called Thrive, which has a large focus on the importance of getting enough sleep. And I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous! Here you are trying to learn about the importance of sleep at 1 am. For God sake, read the book tomorrow and go to sleep!”
Getting more sleep is my number one resolution for 2017. I am TERRIBLE at prioritizing my sleep. There is simply not enough time in the day to do everything, and sleep is usually what I choose to cut out. If I have an hour or two at the end of the day, I often choose to use that time as “me time” for reading a book or watching a trashy reality TV program to unwind. I often wake up cranky because I’m tired and promise myself to have an early night that night, yet it rarely happens. I can’t remember the last time I woke up naturally.
We all know that extended sleep deprivation can lead to higher risk of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, but did you know that lack of sleep can also lead to an increased risk of car accidents, make you dumber, lead to depression, impair your judgement, lead to weight gain and age your skin? Argh! Definitely enough reasons for me, because 2017 is about looking after my health too! I also know that when I am tired, I am less patient, and not as good as a mum as I can be. So let’s all try to get more sleep in 2017 and prioritize our health too!
5. Get more me time.
Following on from getting more sleep and prioritizing my health, this year I intend to have more “me time”, which impacts positively on my mental health too. This means blocking out some time in my diary to do something for me. For me this will be things like making time in my day for exercise, running a bath for myself once a week to relax and read a book, and maybe even finishing up work early once a week and taking a walk, lying on the beach, or swimming in the ocean for an hour before I pick my daughter up from day care.
Recently I have felt like a bit of an angry and cranky person, and I think it all comes down to not having some down time for myself to recharge. Maybe you’ve forgotten how much you enjoy painting? Schedule in some time each week to do something fun that you enjoy.
6. Make single mum friends.
If you are a new single mum, I really recommend trying to make some single mum friends this year. If they’re in your area, even better! I have previously written a blog post and recorded a podcast on this very topic, and all the benefits of it. These range from being able to swap babysitting with each other, having someone to take a holiday with, having someone to talk to who is going through something similar, and normalising your single parent status for you, and also your children.
There are often single mum groups for certain areas which you can find out about online. Facebook is a good starting point for this. Put yourself out there!
7. Get your finances in order.
This is the year to work out your financial plan and get your finances in order. You should work out your budget (as a starting point, you can download my budget template here), so you can see what money you have coming in versus what you have going out.
It’s also a good idea to set up different accounts for different things. At a minimum, I would aim to have a spending/bills/food/rent account, an education account (for day care fees, school fees, text books, uniforms and excursions), and a savings account. If you want to take a holiday, set up a holiday account. If you want Christmas time to be less painful on the budget come December, set up a Christmas account. Work out how much money you need in each account for the year, and set up an automatic transfer to put into each account each week.
8. Work out what YOU want.
Have you ever thought about what YOU want in your life, or is it only ever about what’s best for your kids? For most people, having kids puts their own goals on the back burner for a while. But a relationship break up is the BEST TIME to work out what it is again that YOU want in your life! And you know what? It’s going to make you HAPPIER!!
Maybe you always wanted to write a book, or start your own business, or run a marathon, or even get a law degree? Schedule in some time each week to work on your goals. Don’t be a “think-er”, be a “do-er”. The difference between people who reach their goals and people who don’t, is that people who are “do-ers”, don’t just think about it, but they set up a plan to actually carry out their goal. It’s fun thinking about your goals, but to carry them out, you actually have to work out a plan and DO IT!! If Elle Woods can do it, SO CAN YOU!!
9. Learn to not let the actions or words of your ex affect you.
This is a hard one, and has probably taken me about three years, and I have still not mastered it. It does take time, but try to work on not letting the words or actions of your ex affect you. Easier said than done, I know. My ex often says horrible things to me. He tells me he hopes I die and that he feels sorry for our daughter having me as a mother. Yep… OUCH!! And those are some of the nicer things he says to me. I used to get so upset by his words and take them to heart – I would cry and cry after reading the latest text message or after having a phone call with him. I didn’t understand why someone would be so horrible and nasty to me.
Now I know that it’s not about me at all, it’s about him and his need to say things to hurt me. It’s also about his own grief about the relationship ending, and the fact that he doesn’t see his daughter as much as he’d like to. His words really doesn’t get to me as much now. I still don’t enjoy hearing those kinds of things but I have learned how to manage to not let it affect me so much. But it’s a working progress, and one I plan to continue in 2017. If you can do this too, it will change your life for the better.
10. Help others.
Decide on something that you can do this year to help someone else. This year, one week before Christmas might I add (what were we thinking?), my friends and I decided to get some Christmas presents for kids of single mothers who otherwise wouldn’t receive gifts. Some of these mums had just left domestic violence relationships, and others just didn’t have the funds to get presents for their kids. We decided on 10 families (about 20 children all up), and many of our family, friends and colleagues generously volunteered to donate gifts too. We ended up with at least three presents for each child, a present for each mum, food donations, and money donations.
Trying to co-ordinate this and drive around Sydney to collect gifts and drop them off did add to my stress levels right before Christmas, but you know what? It felt REALLY good to do something to help others who were struggling. It made Christmas more special, because I knew that I had contributed to help 20 kids feel that little bit happier, even if only briefly. And I know that all those generous people who had also contributed gifts also felt good about it.
AND doing something to help those less fortunate makes you see that what you have, really isn’t too bad! There is always someone worse off than you, and when you help someone worse off than you, it makes you feel GRATEFUL for what YOU have. It doesn’t even need to be something financial, perhaps you can offer a service or help in other ways, to someone struggling?
This year I plan to do more of that, and at Christmas I will do the same present donations, but will probably start a few weeks earlier. And in the words of Justin Timberlake “what goes around, comes around”.
If you enjoyed this blog post, sign up to the FREE 10 day “NEW YEAR, NEW YOU” challenge right HERE.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links”. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please note that I only ever endorse a company if I like it, and all opinions are my own.