FAMILY & PARENTING

New Year, Same Me: The Best Things I Did For Myself As A Single Working Mom In 2019

by Sarah Bregel
Sarah Bregel is an editor at LittleThings.com covering entertainment, trending stories, adorable stuff, parenting, and more. She is also a freelance writer, mom of two, dog mom, feminist, and deep-breather.

A new year is all about making resolutions that are supposed to change you for the better. And it can be a good and healthy practice that keeps us checking in with ourselves and what we need, or what can help us to move forward and to let go of what no longer serves us.

As a single working mom, I personally love making New Year’s resolutions because it feels like a much-needed check-in. Especially after the holidays, when I’ve typically been stressed out and haven’t taken the best care of myself mentally and physically, check-ins are totally necessary.

This year, I made resolutions like, I will refocus energy on creative work, I will try to give my energy only to people who truly deserve it, and I will spend more time individually with each of my kids.

Oh, and I’ll start pairing my socks so that one doesn’t always go missing (in all honesty, that will probably be the toughest one to keep).

Still, that doesn’t mean I didn’t do a lot right last year, too! In fact, while 2019 was a tough year for me personally, as both a woman and a mother, it was also a huge year of growth. I embraced tons of habits that I plan to keep up in 2020.

Sometimes, it’s not always about starting new resolutions but about keeping up the old ones, too. Here’s what I plan to keep doing this year.

I took daily walks.

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Empty trail today for a sweaty six miler.

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Last spring, I started taking daily walks on a trail near my house. Since both my kids are now school-aged, admittedly, this habit has become a lot easier to keep in recent years. I never used to be much for walking — it’s so time-consuming! But I fell in love with walking through the woods in 2019.

It helps me to move my body every day and to spend some time in nature, and it just puts my mind at ease. I’m a better parent and a happier person every day that I take a walk, and I plan to do it as much as possible this year.

I made lots of dinners.

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Fridge clean-out. #porchdinner

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Cooking is something that easily can fall by the wayside as a parent. But in 2019, I actually cooked a ton. I made healthy meals (and not-so-healthy meals) and, of course, occasionally ordered pizza. But I always feel better and save money when I’m cooking more.

The truth is, cooking for kids around can be a frustrating experience. It’s a lot of work to have tiny people sometimes complain about what you made them or not want to eat it. Still, it makes me feel good to make decent meals for myself and my kids a few times a week. I plan to keep doing it this year, while occasionally cutting myself some slack. Or … just make nachos. Hey, at least everyone eats it!

I spent more time with friends.

Mom life is busy and chaotic, and oftentimes adding “spend time with friends” to the to-do list feels like yet another chore. Still, recommitting to spending time with my closest friends always makes me feel good in the end.

I get so much out of my adult friendships, and 2019 was a big year for embracing those and making the time. It’s not always easy to find a babysitter and get out of the house or even make plans with other busy moms. It is always worth it, though. I’m looking forward to many more ladies’ nights this year.

I updated my wardrobe.

I almost never buy myself clothes, but last year, I managed a few upgrades. They weren’t huge expenses, but a new bathing suit, a new pair of jeans, and a couple of tops go a long way. I buy clothing for my kids all the time. Giving myself permission to buy things for me, not excessively, but when needed, felt good last year.

I dated myself.

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Fancy AF.

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One of my absolute favorite habits that I got into last year was dating myself. I started taking myself out to dinner or to the movies when I felt like doing something, even if I had no one to go with. Being able to get out of the house and not rely on anyone else felt a tiny bit life-changing, and I’m definitely going to keep it up.

I made time to read.

I read more in the last year than I have in several years prior (combined!). A big part of that was that I got bored with TV and mostly turned it off. While sometimes I watch things on Netflix, I’d usually rather be doing something else. I read a ton of books this year, which means I learned a lot and had the chance to detox my brain from the TV a bit. It also helped me sleep better!

I cleaned up my finances.

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🍀

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This was a big one for me last year. Having recently gone through a separation, my finances were a complete and utter mess. I spent a lot of energy making a budget and trying to stick to it. But I also learned that it’s an ongoing process. I’m going to recommit to keeping my finances in order this year and hoping that over time, as a single parent, it gets easier to stay on top of. Like everything, this one is a work in progress, but one I’m even more committed to in 2020.

I got rid of tons of clutter.

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Sunday explosion 💥 scene.

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Clutter happens. It happens a lot when you’re a parent. Between kids bringing home endless papers from school, bills that pile up, and toys and clothes that are no longer being used, if you don’t stay on top of junk, it just keeps piling up.

Last year, I committed to taking items to Goodwill or scheduling monthly Purple Heart pickups, which is pretty easy because they grab it right off your porch. Post-holidays this year, I’m even more energized about keeping the clutter at bay. I find that a clean space makes me way more zen and means I’m bugging the kids a lot less to clean up because there’s simply less junk to get thrown around.

I spent time alone.

Spending time alone was huge for me this year. Sometimes, I got lonely. But it felt like a necessary part of being comfortable in my life as a single parent. I took a break from dating for a while and tried to be comfortable just being with me. It was definitely hard, and I need to practice it more this year, but it feels like an important goal to continue working on this year.

I was gentle with myself.

For me, 2019 was about being gentle with myself. I gave myself more leeway as a mom and didn’t pick myself apart. While I have a lot of goals for the coming year, I always want to continue being kind to myself in 2020, too. It often takes a shift in perspective, and it sometimes takes asking yourself, “Would you criticize someone else in the same situation as you, or would you be gentle with them?” Usually, we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves. This year, I’m going to keep that in mind and treat myself with the same gentleness that I give to others all year long.