FLYing as a Single Parent

“Once I got the BIG decluttering done, I found the maintenance is MUCH easier and children love routines!” – Fluttering in MT

My inbox is overflowing with your tips on how you FLY as a Single Parent. I haven’t had a chance to go through them all yet, but here are just a few of the great ideas. As you will quickly see, all families have different circumstances, and yet, they have figured out how to adapt the routines to fit their situation. Way to go!

From our members…

  1. Every trick I used as a single mom, I still use as a married mom:1) Use kids’ homework time as your paperwork time: Sit at the kitchen table with them and pay bills, add their activities to calendar, write notes, etc. It cuts down on the whining when they see you pushing a pencil too.

    2) Do not try to compete with parents who have the time and/or money to volunteer for everything, bake fabulous creations and make pageant costumes from scratch. Take care of your kids’ needs first and do the activities that make you happy second — i.e., if you really WANT to bake. Practice saying NO with a smile.

    3) Good calendar skills help a lot in juggling parenting time, as well as who picks up whom when and takes them where to what activity. I use a Palm organizer calendar, give updates to my husband and print out a copy every month for the kids’ dad. I pride myself that in eight years we have never left a kid uncollected anywhere.

    4) Get two copies of any schedules, calendars, instructions, handouts from school, Scouts, lessons — one for you, one for kids’ other parent. Make sure they get invited to everything. Two pairs of eyes and ears are better than one, especially for doctors’ appointments and school conferences. You may have to hold your nose and do it at first, but the kids notice and appreciate it when their parents work together.

    5) Take advantage of those times when the kids are with the other parent. It’s a great opportunity to get stuff done, but don’t forget to take time to be a grownup too and get some pampering.

    6) Give the kids the tools they need to take care of themselves and help take care of the household: underbed bins so they can put away toys fast, homework supplies in a caddy in the dining room (next to a bin for each kid’s school papers), snack items and cleanup things where they can reach, etc. This helps them learn to be independent.

    7)I have a wall calendar of the academic year in the kitchen with all the soccer practices, music events, doctor visits, Dad Nights etc. They like knowing what to expect and sometimes they even remind ME of stuff now.

    8) Let go of the need to be Supermom. It’s better to feed your children Cheerios for supper if it means you can then sit at the table with them and eat and laugh together. They are little for such a short time. – Colorado Flybaby

  2. I have one dd – 19 and 2 ds 11 & 15. They are all beginning to helping me fly. I have a list of rotating chores for the month. We all must do a “room rescue” of our own items before we go to bed. This has really helped cut down on insta-clutter.One of the things I do as part of my routines is after I put the finishing touches on the sink, I get my coffee pot ready to go for the morning. All I have to do is turn it on. My cup of Joe is brewing while I feed the animals and finishing getting myself ready.

    Every Saturday night I offer to iron what they are going to wear on Sunday. If it doesn’t come to me, I don’t iron it and they must! kind of a little incentive to pick out their clothes the night before.

    Now that it is baseball season, snacks, water jugs and uniforms are cleaned and put where they are ready to go for the next game.

    Thank you fly lady and friends – this way of life has just made being single and raising kids sooo much more stress free!! – in central ca

  3. The best advice I can give is 1- to sacrifice a half hour of sleep and get up before them. If you give your self that half hour to shower and dress, it makes a huge difference. Then it is easier to get through your morning routine before you are both out the door. 2- Have them help!! provided they are old enough. I have given my daughter a dust rag and she wipes off what she can reach. 3-Do the before bed ritual. I have extended mine to include the vacuuming. It is the easiest time to get it done. And lastly, don’t sweat what does not get done..there is always tomorrow. I hope this helps. Flying in Boston!!
  4. When I began to FLY a few months ago, I started putting my 5-yo ds’s clothes out at night to get us going in the morning faster. After a month, he began to remind me to put his clothes out before I read him his bedtime stories. The other night I went into his room for story time and he’d already chosen his clothes for the next day and put them on his desk along with his backpack, coat, and shoes. Now he wants to help with my apartment-blessings too. And his birthday request? A timer, just like mine.
  5. When I was first a single parent, I adjusted a LOT of things to make room for the kids and a new career.The biggest time saver was that I set up my finances with as many things as possible DRAFTED from my checking account, so I had virtually NO bills to remember to pay, find stamps for, etc! (Home, auto, electric bill, phone bill, water bill, etc.) I also had my paycheck set up on automatic deposit and auto deposit a small potion to my savings account. As I advanced and begin to earn more, I put all of the child support checks into the savings as well.

    At the end of 5 years, I’d saved $10,000, and had great credit as well! (This when I met my new DH and was no longer single!)

    The other thing we did was to plan a 15 minute cooked breakfast routine! Everyone knew their part….DS dropped toast in the toaster and set the table then buttered the toast; DD grated a little cheese, then made the Orange juice & poured it, while I cooked the eggs with cheese (& re-heated bacon if we had it). Many evenings we’d have bacon sandwiches for dinner (with soup), and I’d always cook the whole pound of bacon while I was at it, and store the unused portion in the ‘fridge for quick breakfasts or sandwiches later.

    The same plan went for other items in cooking. Dice the whole onion, tomato, bell pepper, whatever and keep these ready to go. I planned meals and did as much as possible on the weekends to allow the weekdays to be a little less stressful.

    When homework was finished each night, it was loaded into the car, along with projects, gym bags, etc.

    We had a nightly check list to reduce the morning frenzy and allow us cooked breakfast as often as possible.

    Clothes were always laid out the night before. My children were 7 & 9 when I divorced, and pretty self-sufficient and responsible. Our biggest understanding was that I needed help with household chores if I was going to have time to “play” with them….go skating, shopping, pick up & drop off friends, soccer & hockey games etc.

    I’m proud to say they’ve grown into 2 wonderful, well adjusted, organized young adults, each heading up their own college living quarters (DS as head of the Fraternity house, and DD as the Head Resident Advisor at her university.) Flybaby in Texas

  6. With four kids under 7, each day I focus on one child and together we do a super fling boogie or a hot spot. They hold the bag, I fling away!
  7. Since money is short,and I work part time,it would be hard to afford a baby sitter for.So I trade off with my ds’s friend’s mom across the street.This works out really well for all of us.We save money,and the kids are very happy to spend time together. …FLYing in MI
  8. I am a single parent of a child who has Asperger’s Syndrom. The “normal” discipline and other methods, well they rarely work more than once with him. Breaking chores, tasks, etc. into 15 minute chunks the FlyLady Way works wonders! Anything long or involved, he’ll ask if he can do it FlyLady Style. I’ll ask him if he’s done something he’s to have completed, and he’ll say..oh right, I gotta fly! I know this isn’t a tip. It’s more of a Thank You. – in Tulsa, OK
  9. Hello, I am single only when my husband travels, and one of the best things I ever invested in was a baby sling for my now 6 mo. old dd. I can put her in that, and then take her and my 3 yr. old ds to the park or to the store. Wherever we go it is so nice to be able to put her in that sling, and then have both hands free to lift him into a swing, or a shopping cart, or hold his hand and a bag of groceries, while never having to be afraid that I might accidently drop baby while my other two hands are full. It has been a lifesaver on more then one occasion. Whatever you do please get one that has the baby facing out. I just got rid of the one that put the baby facing me, as she would get upset about not being able to see the world.
  10. I am a military spouse, who one year, I was blessed with my DH for 72 days, out of those he had to work 10 to 12 hour days for over half of them. So I feel that I am a single parent some years.Tip 1: plan special time way ahead. don’t epect things to happen on a calendar day..ie. Christmas, Easter, fourth of July, etc. Have them on the day you can enjoy them. They are just days of the week. We have had Christmas 2 weeks later. Easter on a Thursday. We braeak up the chores for the holiday. Easter eggs one night, Easter movies another, Mom fills the baskets and hides them another. 10 minutes a day and the holiday lasts so very much longer. You don’t have to have the Easter basket on the same day that you hunt eggs either.

    Have a picnic on your day off instead of trying to rush to see the fireworks on the fourth. My favorite activity is a caveman meal when Dh isn’t home. (he doesn’t like sticky kids.) You take a plastic tablecloth, have chicken, mashed potatos, gravy, etc (you don’t have to cook this) No utensils, eat outside with your hands…be warm enough to just hose the kids off after you are done eating. (PS after Halloween sale I bought fake skeleton bones and these are pulled out during our caveman meal.) Being Single Parent doesn’t mean we can’t be fun.

  11. I am a military sahm, so I am alone alot.LOL My biggest tip is early bedtimes.LOL I put the kids to bed at 8pm, we eat they put on there pj’s and go to bed, they may not crash at 8pm but it is quiet time and they get to watch a movie in there till they crash. It is the only alone time I get and it really helps me catch up on emails and take a bath or what ever I need to do for myself. Flybaby in KC
  12. Take help when it is offered. If a friend volunteers to take your kid(s) for the day, if your ex-spouse, ex-inlaws or anyone offers to spend extra time – take them up on it. Although my daughter’s father does not see her, his parents want to be involved with her quite a bit. At first, I was reluctant and bitter – these are people who’ve never liked me, so why should I let them see my DD, who is 3? But then I realized – I need the time for ME and it’s good for her to spend time apart from me, which I know can be a problem in a single-parent family. (and her relationship with her grandparents is improving.) FlyBaby in PA
  13. Since I’m just now learning to flap my wings, I needed all the help I could get. My 3 kids seemed to be SHEs in the footsteps of their mom. I bought multi colored sticky note pads (a different color for each of us) and put our routines on them. They hang on the bathroom mirror, the bed room door, and anywhere else we need a little reminder of what to do. It sure helps us stay focused on the task at hand. A MD flybaby, with her flybabies in training.
  14. It’s what FlyLady is all about – Routine, Routine, Routine! Days when Dad is traveling are almost always smooth because of our evening routines. They will be tweaked now that we have more daylight for playing outside, but both kids know:
    1) what clean clothes to bring into the bathroom so we don’t have cold, wet, nekkid boys running around the house
    2) what toys and books need to be picked up before bathtime
    3) where their dirty clothes go
    4) what time the tub starts running and how long they can play in the tub
    5) to put their towels back up when they are done, and
    6) that Mom will be able to spend a special time alone with each of them before they go to bed if they follow their routines
  15. I have empowered my children to do for themselves what they can. I could not juggle all the activities and sports uniforms for my 4 involved, active sons. They were given the responsibility for laundering their uniform and having their homework done so that I could come home and pick them up and go to all of their practices and games.I was getting rather frustrated having to rescue my sons at school. All too often they left something at home. This would either lower their grade or their conduct grade. I announced one night that I would no longer pay the consequences for their forgetfulness. I would only make a trip to the school if my behavior was going to cause their problem. Not only did this make my sons more responsible, but myself also.

    My son’s joined teams that my friends had their children on so that I would always have a backup for transportation. Usually a coach lived nearby and would bring them to the activity and I would join them as soon as I could.

  16. One of the worst things about being a single parent is feeling like dinner is all about the kids. One night a week, my hug for the day is that I cook with wine, then have a glass of the wine at dinner. I feel like the dinner is a little bit for me when I have that glass. Remember — only one glass; there is homework to help with yet! Take Care of yourselves!
  17. I was an active duty military single mom for many years, followed by single mom while my active duty husband was overseas for 1 year.Keep kids buy with sports, dance, church, or other kids-type groups and clubs (YMCA/YWCA, Recreation clubs, youth sports clubs). During soccer practice 2x/week, I got the grocery shopping done at a nearby store, ran errands, or relaxed from a hard day. These are definite McDonald’s nights, or crock pot nights!!

    Tap into local single parent support groups, or “parents night out” events organized by many churches or the Family Support Center on most military bases. Usually 1-2 days a month they provide free child-care with age appropriate activities so that single parents can take a break for themselves. A great “fun day” or “hug yourself” break and well-deserved.

    Parents co-op. You baby-sit for me and I return the favor… Great because it costs NO $$ and you can make some great friends and substitute parents for when you really need to be gone or take care of yourself.

  18. I don’t have children yet, but my sister was a single parent for five years. Her son also has Attention Deficit Disorder, so he is one very happy, HYPER kid – and quite a handful for a single parent!My sister saved herself time and energy by teaching her son how to help her with everyday activities. Cleaning up around the house was turned into a game. She also frequently went through the house and asked her son to pick out items that he would like to give away to other less-fortunate kids (GREAT for a quick 27-fling while also teaching kids how to be generous). Basically, they shared many of the household tasks by making the tasks FUN enough for him to participate in.

    Now let me tell you, the other day my sister’s son came to my house. He played with toys and put them up without me having to say a word about picking up the toys. (He is only 6 years old!!!) He’s FLY-ing and he doesn’t even know it!

  19. As a single parent, I NEED the help of my kids. We split up our morning and bedtime routines on a rotating basis. Each day, each child gets one activity (not JOB, activity!). This changes from day to day, which gives everyone variety. Everyone’s favorite is swishing the toilet!
  20. While my husband was in Afghanistan last spring and summer I found myself incredibly overwhelmed in the evenings. I was used to him being home and had grown dependent on his help with our 2 preschoolers.Between 5:30pm and 8:00pm we would serve dinner, eat, do the dishes (no dishwasher), bathe the kids, jammy them up, have snack/family time then to bed with a story. We always took turns…. one of us would do baths while the other did the dishes, and we would all meet up in the family room around 7:00pm. It worked great.

    After he left, I found myself putting the children to bed later and later because I couldn’t get it all done by myself, in our old time frame. This definitely didn’t work because I would end up staying up very late just to get some down time without the kids…..which of course would make me an irritable Mommy in the morning…So, then I started leaving the dishes until morning which I hated to do…because of course then I would let them pile up and pile up…GROSS!

    So I started having our “big” meal at lunchtime… it worked great…..kids would relax to a Disney program while I got the dishes done in the afternoon …. Then at dinner time we would have a sandwich or soup or hotdogs…something easy and light on paper plates…. They were eating the same kinda things just at different times of the day. They didn’t mind, and it made my evenings more relaxing! Airborne!! Brand New Flybaby

  21. I have been a single mom for 6 out of the last 10+ years of motherhood, and have also been a classroom teacher and later an in-home day care provider. Here’s a few tips on how to FLY solo with kids:Keep meals simple and quick–30 minutes max. from start to finish. Use your crock pot at least twice a week. Check library for cookbooks with these themes. Have healthy breakfast cereal in a cupboard (put bowls next to cereal boxes so kids can reach them) and let kids get their own breakfast. This is teaching them self-care, and it boosts their self-esteem when they feel capable of doing things themselves.

    Clean fast; “housework done incorrectly still blesses your family” is the mantra I wish I would have discovered years ago. My perfectionism almost drove me bonkers! Just wipe up spills and spots quick, don’t obsess about it.

    Teach kids to clean up after themselves. I tell my kids that the carpet doesn’t need to be vacuumed A+, just a B- or C will do. Kids can’t live up to our outrageous expectations in the housekeeping department. Again, let them feel successful and they will WANT to clean. Praise the work they actually do, and they will want to repeat it.

    I have always weeded their clothing periodically, which has kept my laundry manageable. And I purchase most of their clothing at thrift stores; I’ve lived in small towns and a good-sized city, and I have always found nice, neat clothing available at low prices, which means I DO NOT FRET OVER STAINS. I try once to reclaim a stained garment, then it either hits the trash or becomes a one-time use rag.

    Ask for help when you need it!!! I tried for too long to be the superwoman I thought I should be, going it alone and proud of it, but depression and exhaustion were my constant companions. Please learn from the Flycrew and let go of your perfectionism and take care of yourself first! And even though we of all women actually have many reasons to whine, 27-boogies are much more effective.

  22. Make sure to give children age-appropriate tasks they can easily and quickly accomplish: bringing in the garbage cans from the street, taking refrigerated items off the table after dinner, wiping down the table, etc. Then lots of praise even if the job is not perfect–remember it is still a blessing! This gives them a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of being needed and a part of your routines. Bonus: one less thing on your list!
  23. I made up drawings for the kids routines along with the word next to each step so they each have their own visual reference. Since they are 3 & 5 it is also a helpful teaching tool for words. Morning: 1.wake up (sunshine) 2. potty 3. Clothes 4. Make the bed 5. breakfast 6. brush our teeth (toothbrush) 7.shoes 8. get a stuffed animal 9.go to daycare (car drawing with three happy faces inside) We have a sheet for the morning and evening routines. I let the girls give their ideas and made copies for them to color just for fun. They love it and it has helped cut down the grumpy mornings! PS:If you have a drawing phobia, you can go to coloring books and cut and paste.
  24. The best advice I can give regarding raising children as a single parent is ROUTINES! Just as routines are important for housekeeping, routine are also important with children. Long before I learned of Flylady, I discovered that I needed daily routines to keep my kids in order. (I don’t know why I couldn’t have made that connection in the other aspects of my life!)Up at the same time every day, with clothes already laid out the previous night. Off to school, day care and work. Then home to homework at the kitchen table while Mom prepares dinner. Load the dishwasher then baths. Once the kids were in bed (by 9:00 pm every night!), I did my chores. Each day of the week was a different room: Mondays I cleaned the kitchen, Tuesdays I cleaned the livingroom, Wednesdays I cleaned the bathroom and Fridays was family fun day! We would usually go to the pool, which didn’t cost anything, and the laundry facility was right there too so the kids could swim between trips to the washer or dryer. Saturday I would clean the bedrooms and Sunday was church.

    I lived in a second-floor apartment and one day my neighbor asked me how I kept my apartment so tidy, with small children to care for while working full-time. When I told her I did my chores after they went to bed she laughed! She lived below me and wondered what those strange sounds were coming through the ceilings at 10:00 at night. It was my vacuum cleaner! – South Carolina

  25. The only way I get my routines done…. I get up 1 hour before my DD. I can do my routines and get ready for work. Also, I use lunch hours to run errands. Monday I go to the Bank, Tues I go grocery shopping, Wed I am off, Thur I make calls (Dr Appts, Misc Business Stuff) Fri I relax! Then at night, I save that time for me. There is too much to do & if I don’t use the evenings to recharge, then I find myself getting resentful. And THAT IS NOT FLYING!! :)
  26. My DH travels alot and often works late, so we will have “movie night” when he is out. We get baths early, pop popcorn and watch a DVD and then its off to bed. I sometimes try to get a few things done, but usually I join them! I’m usually needing a break by then!!! The kids look forward to it. BTW, I have a 4 y-old, 2 1/2 yr-old and an 8 week old.
  27. One thing I used to do with my younger son when he would meltdown and tantrum was to take a picture book, sit near him and start reading softly aloud. I would be just far enough away that he couldn’t see the pictures while I was reading and the curiosity would quickly overcome the upset feelings he had. Once we were done reading, he was calm enough to work on whatever bothered him. It wasn’t until several years later we found out my son was attention deficit/hyperactive and Aspergers. Despite his special needs, he has great grades and loves reading. – in Maine.
  28. This one will probably seem WAY too simple but: I find that when I need some free time to work on my own projects without my sweet 6 y.o. DS begging for my full attention, it helps tremendously to have him invite his friend over for an hour or two to play. The kids keep each other entertained and I get stuff done.
  29. I’m not a single person or a single mom, but my mother was a single mom and now single on her own. I know that the one thing she did for us growing up was to work at places where we could be (daycare, school etc). Something she does now is do pampering things for herself. She has a gym membership, gets weekly massages, goes to the doctor regularly (which she could not do as a single mom!), and does LOTS of church activities so she can be with people. I know this isn’t a suggestion for how she cleans, but you stress hugging ourselves and my mother is very good at hugging herself and others.
  30. Getting kids to help around the house starts when they are very young. When my son was about 3, we used to play laundry basketball. I put the laundry basket on the my back using a couple of bungie cords and my DS would try to get the laundry in the basket. He shoots! He scores! High five! I started on my knees and made it easy. As he grew, I stood up and moved the basket around by being silly. When he got older, I put a toy basketball hoop over an inexpensive plastic trash can and he would shoot his laundry into the hoop and thus into the can. On a chalkboard, he’d score his points. One point for each article into that made a basket. Bonus: learning to count and write numbers. Sandy Eggo Flybaby
  31. I have been a single mom in the past and am a military spouse at the present. The best thing for kids is routine, routine, routine. Don’t make the mistake of doing everything for them so it will go faster, MAKE the time to teach them how to do things for themselves. Not only will this take some of the pressure off of you, it will help in bits and pieces and they will feel so good about themselves and will want to do even more. Always do as much as you can the night before so your mornings run smoothly. A regular bedtime, even on weekends, is a must or you pay the grumpy kid price. Keep morning and evening routines posted on a bathroom mirror or bedroom door for your children that are old enough to read then there’s no excuse why they didn’t brush their teeth etc. Also, consistency is great for kids and they memorize their routines in no time and when the other parent is out of town or country, these routines add to the “sanity” list. I have my girls throw their laundry in the laundry room each night and I put it in the sorter before I go to bed as part of my evening routine. No more socks under the bed or piles to step over. If you don’t have a laundry room, then a central location with a hamper or basket will do. We get their clothes ready for the entire week and hang them in one place in the closet so there’s no decision making in that area each morning. Try to throw in a load of wash in the morning and maybe one or two in the evening and hopefully by Saturday, you can relax and actually have a weekend with your kids (gasp). There’s nothing worse than spending your time off cleaning and doing laundry. (Enter Flylady) I used to do my grocery shopping on my lunch hour, that way I didn’t take the kids with me and my how fast the time went and I didn’t spend as much money because I was organized and I wouldn’t impulse buy just to get out of the store. (Enter Leanne) Organization is the key and if you’re not, you’re in the right place to get started. God Bless You and Your Great Kids.
  32. 1)Decluttering with kids – While I’m not single, my dh is often away for many weeks at a time. In our immediate families we are the last to have children so we were overwhelmed with the amount of clothing, toys, and other clutter that we received. Well, the need arose to get rid of this clutter……this clutter was driving me insane! I am not a pack rat by nature but dh’s family is so we received many items that were broken, worn out or just completely unrecognizable. But it all took baby steps and including my babies is what I did. In 15 minute intervals on a daily basis we would sort through the boxes of stuff to see what could be used and what could be thrown away and what we would give up to the local shelter. My dd’s got right into it(they are 4 & 2) sorting through clothes AND toys. While the 2 y/o couldn’t really decide what was best to keep, I kept her just as busy as us by giving her the feather duster and letting her go nuts! She loved it! And she was helping mommy. The 4 y/o was very happy to help me sort through things. Those 15 minute intervals with my children by my side helped us to give away 6 boxes of clothing to a new mom, a crib, sheets and more clothes to our women’s shelter and helped us find keepsakes that we had been looking for. The short intervals helped keep it interesting for them and not so overwhelming to me, we now have a basement that has only the stuff we love(seasonal sporting equipment and Christmas supplies).2)Routine’s with Kids – Another way I have gotten my children involved is by giving them very small morning and bedtime routine’s. They are still small and need help, but this also keeps me focused and accountable, cause by the end of the day I’m not really motivated anymore to do their routine’s. I have made on my computer mini lists for them including picture’s of what their routine’s are:Morning-Wake up, Make Bed, Brush Teeth, Get dressed, Eat breakfast-after their routine is finished, they get a star sticker and cartoons can be turned on. For the Bedtime Routine-Clean up toys, Find all Bed time Blankies/dollies, Brush Teeth, Get into Pajamas, Pray & Go to Bed. Both routine’s are posted in their room with pictures to guide them through each routine(cartoon’s from online showing a kid making bed, brushing teeth, etc) This also is rewarded with a star sticker. After so many stars they can pick their own movie to watch at the local library or video store.

    3)Zone Cleaning – Both children of mine are completely willing to help out with all the zone cleaning and daily chore kind of stuff. The absolutely adore the duster, I just give it to them and let them have at it. I do go back through the house to get the stuff they can’t reach(above doors and pictures) but I never ‘redo’ what they have done, it demeans their effort. But one rule I do have with their toys is if it’s not picked up, it can be sucked up by the vacuum which means it’s gone. And I follow through with it.

    I know you wanted it short, but I just couldn’t!LOL! Hope I can help you out! – in Alberta Canada

  33. Well I recently became a “part-time” single Mom. My husband took a job out of state which only allows him to come home on Sunday! Oh my what was I going to do. I worked full time myself and my house was in MAJOR CHAOS! I knew about FLYing at that time, but had not grasped the concept. I kept trying to reinvent this system so it would work for me, flat on my face I dropped. OK, OK, well then what I need to do is get my house cleaned then I will start FLYlady. Whoops there I go again flat on my face. Finally a light bulb went off in my head, how about doing her way. Maybe she knows what she’s talking about and if she doesn’t who cares nothing else is working. So I decided to take my first baby step and shine my sink, no matter what else happened that week my sink had to be shined! Then the second week I decided to make my bed every morning. So now I had two things to look forward to in my home, a nice clean sink and a made bed for me to fall into every night. Each week I added just one more itsy bitsy baby step. I was doing this. Before I knew it there were regular routines. This was amazing I had some real things that were happening in my home. My home is still a disaster, but it is getting better every day and so am I! So what about the kids how could I get them to grasp this concept and stop making messes! Well first things first I will never get them to stop making messes, but I can encourage them to clean up after themselves because they see me doing it! Power of example is wonderful. Also I use the “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 15 MINUTES” with my kids all the time. Each day after school they have to clean their rooms for 15 minutes. They love the timer because it gives them end. My husband came home last weekend and asked if he was in the right house. LOL! He was so surprised my how clean and decluttered our home was becoming. So the only true advice that I can give you is a direct quote from FLYlady herself…”BABYSTEPS”!
  34. I have been a single mom for 13 years. I have two wonderful teen-age DD’s. One attend the local community college and the other is homeschooled. When I leave for work in the morning, I leave a note for each one of them with ONE 15 minute chore on it. They get a kick out of not having to do any chore for more than 15 minutes (thanks, Flylady). Slowly, with babysteps, our house has become clean and presentable and the sink is always shiny – don’t mess with mom’s clean sink! Dinners are kept simple – crockpot vegtable soup is on the menu for tonight. They each do their own laundry – they may complain about it but more than once, I’ve heard my youngest DD tell her friends mom that they should make their kids responsible for doing their own laundry so they know how to do it when they go away for college…
  35. Ok, here are my tips for those of us who have husbands that are deployed or TDY a lot. (military)1) Go grocery shopping in the late morning. There aren’t many people then, so you can let the little kids run.
    2) If you need some time, or just some help, call his unit. It’s their job to take care of you when he is gone.
    3) Plan your menu a month at a time. (I save over $100 a month this way) It is so nice to not have to ask what everyone wants for dinner, and not have to think about it because you can look and see what you are going to make, and you know you have everything for it.
    4) Try to have all your chores done by the time the kids get home from school. They may not tell you so, but knowing that your time is theirs when they come home from school means a lot to them when you are the only adult.
    5) If your kids are old enough, they can clean their own rooms and save you a whole zone. I divide up each child’s room into 6 zones, for Monday through Friday, and on their chart, I write exactly what should be done that day. On Sundays, their “zone” is to do one chore that is whatever Mom tells you to do. My kids tell me that they have the nicest room of all their friends, and most parents don’t believe that they keep it that way themselves. Way to GO DDs!
    6) Don’t leave them out of the loop! If you get a call or an email from Dad, share it. Leave out the personal stuff to you, of course, but even if you just say, “I got an email from Daddy this morning, he says he loves you” Sometimes, my husband will tease them, and write to me and say to bonk them on the head for him. So when I walk by, I pat their head and say, “bonk from Daddy”. Little things like that make their day.
    7) If you can, web cams are the way to go! If he has access to a computer and they will let him install it, it is so great for the kids to see Daddy.
    8) Keep HIM in the loop, too. Tell him all the little things – oldest DD had a boy flirt at her and she was so embarrassed she didn’t know what to do, but it was so cute hearing her retell it; youngest DD misheard that Dad was in Florida, and now tells people he is in Etcetera.
    9) Have older kids play with the younger ones so that you can cook dinner. Everyone will be happier.
    10) Don’t stay up late and play on the computer. Get ready for bed with the kids, and if you want to stay up after they sleep, for goodness sakes, set a timer!
    11) Buy a good set of tools. Obviously, there are some things that you have to call a repairman for, but so much of home repair is easy if you have the right tools. If you can follow a recipe, you can follow installation/repair directions. There are plenty of sites online that can tell you how to fix whatever it is. Not having a man around is no excuse for letting your home fall into disrepair.
    12) Take a deep breath. Really. It’s really ok if things aren’t done exactly right. Being alone, you feel you have more stress on you to do it right. You put the stress there, you can take it off.
    13) Make routines for everything. Have dinner at the same time every night, do the dishes immediately after, put the kids in the tub at the same time every night. Things flow so much easier, and there are a lot less arguments if everyone knows what to expect at certain times.
    14) Take an extra 5 minutes and make yourself pretty. Whether it is a nice hair clip, a good brushing, makeup, whatever you feel makes you look pretty. You’ll feel better about yourself, and about others, too. – Flying Army Wife of 16 years
  36. My niece is a single parent of 2 children, after losing her husband in a tragic accident 4 years ago. Needless to say she has all the responsibilities of both parents. One of the things she does to help mornings run smooth, is to get the children’s backpacks ready with lunch money, snacks, gym clothes, etc. the night before. She even goes as far as putting them in the vehicle the night before, so the next morning all they have to do is get in and off to school and work they go!
  37. Whenever someone says “Hey, anytime you need a break, let me know and I can watch the kids for an hour or two,” TAKE THEM UP on it! Say “You know, that is SO kind of you. Could you possibly come by tomorrow at about 2 so I can do some shopping alone?” and set a date and time. And keep it. Don’t tell them thank you but then never use it. Enjoy it whenever you possibly can! People LOVE to be needed… so share that love. – London, Ontario, Canada
  38. Single moms of children age 3 to 5 can talk to their child, and clean and tidy the rest of the bathroom while child has THEIR bubble bath. (Then clean the tub – ready for your Bubble Bath later.)
    Single moms of children age 3 to 5 can make their child “Penny Man” or “Penny Lady” – while shopping. Give your young one about 15 pennies for their pocket. When the cashier wants $8.54 – ask the child to get 4 pennies out of their pocket and give it to the cashier. Voila! Child learns to count, helps mom ‘shop’ and you don’t have to worry about pennies!
    Single moms should allow one night a week when child helps decide what to have for dinner, helps to cook it for dinner, helps to clean up from dinner. As a final step, teach them how to SHINE THE SINK! – Flybaby from Canada
  39. When my kids were small, my husband worked a swing shift, when he sleeping during the day the house needed to be kept relatively quiet so I would take the kids to the park and we’d have a picnic lunch and feed the ducks at the pond. It would give us a break from our routine, give us fresh air outside, and give their daddy some quiet time to rest. It was fun for all and inexpensive too.
  40. Once I got the BIG decluttering done, I found the maintenance is MUCH easier and children love routines!
    1. No eating outside the kitchen.
    2. Make putting toys away fun for kids by having cubbies for their various items.
    3. Make it fun to bless others by getting rid of excess items.
    4. Frustration is reduced when they can find what they’re lookng for.
    5. They are proud of their rooms because they’ve had a part in choosing decor.
    5. I’ve made the kids my priority – NOT dating, not my friends, not my career! This has made a HUGE difference in my outlook on life. As I’ve gotten more peaceful, the whole family has.
    6. Because I’ve gotten routines down, we’re not rushing. My little ones love being able to curl up with Mom and read a story, or practice their spelling words in the evening.
    7. I don’t answer the phone or the door when we’re having “Family Night”. We may be a family without a Dad in the house, but we’re a family, and the kids know it!
    8. The kids are proud to have their friends over because our house is so “nice”. Also, they’ve noticed that I don’t yell like other Mommies.
    9. As a former perfectionist, I’ve learned to hit the high spots and let the rest go – I wipe the bathroom down with Baby Wipes. I don’t vacuum nearly as much as I used to. I’ve made the house practically maintenance free! AMAZING!
    10. My daughter’s teacher said she is doing MUCH better in school. Could it be all the peacefulness is having unexpected results? – Thanks FLYlady and all the Crew! Fluttering in MT

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