With these four strategies for single moms to manage stress, stress levels will stay low while looking for a job.
What does it look like for single moms to manage stress? Maybe something like this:
The alarm clock buzzes and wakes you from a sweet, deep sleep. You open your eyes and tell yourself, “It’s another school day. Let’s go!”. You wake up the kids, then stagger to the kitchen to fix their breakfast while simultaneously packing their lunches. Next, you make sure they get dressed and get them out the door. Wait! One of the kids forgot their homework! Quickly, you rush to get them on the school bus. It’s only until they are on their way that you realize that you are still in your robe…and hungry!
When you are a single mom who is also searching for a job, the stress level can feel overwhelming. A job search requires focus and perseverance, both of which require you to tap into your best self. If stress begins to take over, it is important to reevaluate and reverse course so you don’t burn out. Here are some strategies for single moms to help lower the stress level while looking for a job:
1. Take Control of Your Schedule
As a single parent, your first priority is your child(ren), and let’s face it, they require a lot of attention. There is no getting around the reality that you have very little free time in your schedule, and undertaking a job search will also put a demand on this scarce resource. But if you use your time wisely, you can dial down your stress level.
The first step is to identify times in your schedule when you’re alone. That concept might seem foreign to you and require you to prioritize differently. For example, can you get an extra couple of hours to yourself each day by waking up an hour before the children or staying up at night after they’ve gone to bed? If your children take a nap or go to school, how about using that time for your job search?
Once you have pinpointed the most opportune times in your schedule, the next step is to block off those times on a physical calendar. Place the calendar in a spot that you see frequently, like on the refrigerator or on a kitchen cabinet door. Here’s an example of how time blocking would look:
Displaying a time-blocked calendar can be an effective reminder that you do have time to focus on your job search, and you can make it happen!
2. Don’t Neglect Self-Care
Now that you have time blocked on your calendar for your job search, you will need to use some of that time for taking care of yourself. You might be thinking, “What does that have to do with looking for a job?”. Due to variables outside your control, a job search will likely be stressful. Self-care helps to manage your stress, which can positively influence the outcome of your job search. Below is a list of suggested self-care ideas:
- Meditate/pray: Try taking a few minutes each day to get quiet and focus on one thing to be grateful for. This can be a powerful practice and can set the tone for your entire day.
- Exercise: Move your body throughout the day. Talk a walk, stretch with yoga.
- Grooming: Pampering yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. A mini-facial, conditioning your hair, or a mani/pedi can be a great way to lift your spirit!
Give yourself permission to do something for yourself. Pay attention to how it lowers your stress level and makes you feel confident!
3. Tap into External Resources
Do you have the mindset, “I don’t need help from anyone. I’m capable of handling myself and my family all by myself.”? Being a single mom has no doubt strengthened your ability to multi-task and make difficult decisions on your own. You may even see yourself as “Super Mom”!
But there are times in life when getting support from others can be a real game-changer. In the context of a job search, it could be the determining factor that could help lead to nailing the job interview. Which, in turn, could lead to getting a job that has better benefits and a higher salary. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Call 2-1-1 to talk with a community resource specialist who can connect you with local help and resources.
- If you are unemployed, seek organizations that provide job training and coaching at no cost.
- When you are in a job search, there will be times when you will need childcare (for example, to go to an interview), If you have family/friends nearby, make them aware of your situation and ask if you can call them if you need help. Another option for child care services is your local YWCA.
4. Set Realistic Goals
Stress can be sneaky. We unconsciously put stress on ourselves without realizing it. One way we do that is by creating unrealistic goals that are not achievable. Here are a few hypothetical examples:
- I can apply to 5 jobs a day. (Reality: Applying online is not a quick process. Do you really have enough time in your day to accomplish this?)
- I can interview on any day and at any time that I’m offered. (Reality: Do you have childcare arrangements? Do you have reliable transportation?)
- I will apply for any job no matter what the job requirements. (Reality: Unless a job posting indicates “No Experience Needed,” you should be strategically searching for jobs you qualify for.)
If you find yourself feeling like your job search is going nowhere, take an honest look at your expectations and readjust your goals. You will discover that your stress level will decrease as you set yourself up for success.
Single moms have one of the hardest and most stressful roles, raising their children with less support than others. Undertaking a job search often created additional stress. But by applying these simple strategies, you can successfully land your next job with your sanity intact!
Author: Leslie Martinez
Leslie is the owner of LM Virtual Services: “When you need another you.” As a Virtual Executive Assistant, she helps bring harmony to overwhelmed business owners. In her spare time, Leslie enjoys reading, exercising, and volunteering. She is a member of Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Leslie is married and the proud mother of an adult son.
Connect with Leslie on Linkedin.