Managing a stable work-life balance is difficult for any parent, but as a single parent, it can sometimes feel impossible. Single parenting is an ongoing challenge, as it essentially means you work two full time jobs – one in the office, and one at home. Between working your current job, taking care of your family, and attempting to have a social life, it may feel like there’s not enough of you to go around. The juggling act only gets more complex if you add a job hunt.
Job hunting is a daunting task in itself – if you are currently working, carving out the extra time in your schedule can feel exhausting. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to totally burn you out. With these steps, you can streamline the process of job hunting into something that is both manageable and productive; and still have time to change diapers and read bedtime stories.
Take Care of Yourself
As a parent, you’re at your best when you’re not only taking care of your children, but also yourself. All parents know that it’s a challenge to fit in a bit of “me time,” but it’s important to make this one of your priorities. As part of your job hunt, factor in time to meet your basic human needs – like sleeping and eating well. Recent studies show that when parents don’t get enough sleep at night, it not only affects their own health, but may affect their child’s health, as well. Though it’s tempting to enjoy the quiet still of night time after the children have gone to bed, keep in mind that you need your sleep, too. It’s recommended that adults aged 26-64 sleep an average of 7-9 hours, clocking in at no less than 6 hours. In order to tackle your next day, you’ll want to wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Sleep isn’t all you need to be at your best – your body also needs substantial fuel, and that means making smart choices when it comes to food. Though it may be tempting to order a pizza and call it a night, focus instead on saving money and calories by stocking up at the grocery store. Consider cooking with your kids, for some special bonding time. Meal prepping for the week ahead on Saturdays or Sundays is a popular time-saving trend for many parents. By focusing on your health and wellness, you can ensure that you’re functioning at your full potential, and set a strong example for your kids to follow.
Routine is Key
Creating a routine that works for you is integral to the process of finding a job. When you create a routine that you can stick to and manage – and easily modify when needed – you create healthy habits for yourself. Waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth rarely feels like a chore, given how deeply it’s ingrained into your morning schedule. Think about job hunting in the same way. Set aside a specific amount of time – whether it’s each day, every other day, or every few days – that’s dedicated to your goal. Instead of reading the news every morning while you drink your coffee, perhaps you can spend that time seeking out new career opportunities. When you have time during the day or after work, you can follow through with your application.
If you have your kids with you after work, look for opportunities to job hunt while they’re occupied. If your children have nightly homework, try viewing job hunting as your own version of homework, and work on them at the same time. Perhaps your child’s one-hour soccer practice after school provides the perfect time for you to send applications. Or, after the kids have gone to sleep, take an hour for yourself to job search. Do what you need to get comfortable – whether that’s listening to relaxing music or a funny podcast, or even just moving to a different room. You’ll want to be relaxed, but focused – this is precious time you’ve carved out for yourself, so make it count.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Leaning on friends and family while job hunting – especially as a single parent – is understandable; in fact, it’s encouraged. Consider reaching out to someone you’re close with, to help look after the kids for a few hours, so you can get caught up or polish your resume. Think about hiring a sitter, or setting up a play-date for the kids, so you can take the time you need to focus. Perhaps look for a part-time house cleaner, or ask a family member to help take a few daily chores off your plate. Remember that job hunting is a temporary state; sure, it can take a while to land the right position, but you won’t be in this search mode forever. The job search requires extra focus and effort from your end, so it makes sense to seek temporary help in managing your responsibilities. There’s no shame in asking for help, or admitting when you’re stretched a bit too thin. Getting by with a little help from your friends is not a weakness – it’s a strength.
Much of job hunting comes down to exercising strong time management skills, and maintaining a healthy balance between your self-care, your family’s care, and your career goals. By following these steps, you’re well on your way to setting yourself up for job hunt success. What advice do you have for single parents on the job hunt? Share your tips in the comments below!