What I learned from being sick, as a single mum.
A couple of weeks ago, I was really ill. As in, couldn’t get out of bed for a week ill. Just as I was thinking how lucky I was that I hadn’t been hit with the flu that had hit most of Sydney, it hit me. I could do nothing but lie in bed. And if I was feeling particularly energetic, I would migrate to the couch for a change of scenery. A positive that came out of it though was that I had lots of time to reflect while I was drifting in and out of sleep, and here is what I discovered – sick as a single mum.
1. Single mum friends are incredibly selfless people who you can rely on when it matters.
No one knows how truly difficult it can be when you’re a single mum and are sick, except for other single mums. They are always the first ones to offer a helping hand, even if it puts them out. I had several of my single mum friends offer to take my daughter to day care and drop her home to me, do my shopping, and deliver me medication, and I was so grateful to them. It wasn’t always easy or convenient for them, but they understood what it was like to be sick as a single mum and they knew how I felt, so they stepped in. Even if it meant their one child free hour was spent transporting my child, or the after school sport schedule was made harder due to fitting in a day care pick up too. They still did it.
I have written before about the benefits of making single mum friends, and I cannot rate it highly enough. And I look forward to returning the favour to my single mum friends when the opportunity arises. In addition, a woman contacted me through Instagram and sent me a Feel Better Box. I don’t know this woman at all personally, except that we follow each other on Insta. When she saw that I was sick, she knew what it felt like and she wanted to send me the gift. The selflessness and thoughtfulness actually made me cry. Just one single mum looking out for another one.
2. What’s the point in having your own business if you don’t take some time to chill out?
Any small business owner will know that the hours are long and you never really switch off. But as I was lying in bed reflecting on my current life, I realised that part of the reason why I turned Single Mother Survival Guide into a business, rather than go back to being employed, was so that I could be an involved mum and have the flexibility to spend time with my daughter when it mattered. I realised that I need to take some of the energy and hours out of my business and put them into my daughter. I have not been very good at being present lately when I’m with her, and that has now changed.
3. Life is short.
Similarly to the point above, I have not been very good at looking after myself over the last six months. I have been burning the candle at both ends, putting a lot of pressure on myself by over scheduling and creating to do lists each day that allow me to have very little me-time. And maybe that’s why I got sick in the first place? Sleep was something that I really wanted to prioritize in 2017 and I have been failing miserably at getting enough sleep each day. I have been up until the early hours of the morning working away. And don’t get me wrong, the reason why I have been doing that is because I love what I’m doing, but I do need to learn to switch off, have some fun without worrying about everything that I need to do, and get some sleep. Life is too short to not look after your well-being. I’ve gone back to having more balance in my life.
4. Sometimes you’ve just got to outsource or take the easy option. And not feel guilty about it!
We ate several take away and frozen dinners whilst I was sick, and everything was still OK. My daughter survived and so did I. We ate dinner on the couch watching TV because I had no energy to sit on a chair for 30 minutes, let alone cook a meal. We never normally do that. I am a firm believer of dinner time being family time at the dining table, but it was only a week and I needed to prioritise the little energy that I had. I needed it for my daughter’s bedtime routine. And, my daughter thought it was FANTASTIC! It may have cost some money that I didn’t have to spend, but it was WORTH so much more than what I paid for it, because I didn’t have to worry about it at all.
5. The world continues to spin if you don’t clean the house for a week.
My neighbour will tell you I am obsessed with keeping my house tidy. Cluttered toys give me anxiety to the max and I need to vacuum regularly to keep sane. When I was sick, I did nothing. There were toys everywhere and the house desperately needed a vacuum, but the world didn’t end, and I survived with the mess. I have learnt to relax a little with clutter, and instead spend that time doing something more fun.
6. Health is everything.
If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. If you’re running on empty you have nothing left in the tank to give out. As single mums (or dads) it’s vital that we prioritise our health, because everything is on us. And eventually, if you don’t prioritise it, you will come crashing down.
I don’t usually have a lot of time to just be, and to reflect on life. But basically what it comes down to is that I’ve just been putting too much pressure on myself. And I’m going to take some time to chill.
I think it’s an important lesson, and one which shouldn’t only be realised when we’re sick.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Single Mother Survival Guide online course is launching shortly! This is something that I REALLY wished had been available to me when I became a single mum. I am super dooper excited about this! It gives mums the tools that they need to get life back on track and to feeling empowered in a really supportive environment.
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