As the first year of blogging here on Self-Employed Single Mum draws to a close I’ve been taking stock and of the last 12 months and planning for 2018. That’s included digging into the stats for this site.

It’s been a valuable exercise because it’s given me a great insight into which posts are striking a chord and being read the most. I’ve now got a clearer idea of where to go with my content next year. That might mean there’ll be a few changes around here!

I’ve also been giving myself a great big pat on the back for getting through a whole year of blogging, and blogging pretty consistently. I’m loving growing this blog and connecting with my readers. It’s why I started this blog and why I want to start offering mentoring for single mums next year.

So, to celebrate a WHOLE YEAR (!) of SESM, here are my top 10 blog posts of 2017:

1 | 11 reasons to love being a single mum

In nearly every month of this year this post was in the top two or three posts. Historically there’s been a lot of negativity around being a single mother so I think this full-on celebration of what is GREAT about single motherhood was a welcome dose of positivity.

2 | Inspiring quotes every frazzled single mother needs to read

When life throws you a single parenting curve ball sometimes it’s hard to see your way forward. I love quotes for helping me see a different perspective and it seems that lots of you agree. This collection of inspiring quotes are great to keep to hand to help you get a positive perspective when the going gets tough.

3 | Why I’m NOT a single mother by choice

The path I took to motherhood is often referred to as being a ‘single mother by choice’. In this post I let off steam about why I’m not comfortable with that label. I think many of you who have chosen the same path, or may do in the future, could identify with how and why I came to be a single mother.

4. It’s time to say NO! to working nine-to-five

Another rant. This time about the toxicity of traditional working hours and why it’s time to leave bums-on-seats presentee-ism where where it belongs. In the past. The campaign for truly flexible working really reached a crescendo this year so this post hit the right note at the right time.

5. The truth about being a single mum on Mother’s Day

This post really struck a chord with single mamas everywhere. I hate to have a moan, but I’ve definitely struggled with Mother’s Day in the past. This post uncovers why it can be tricky and how single mums can be prepared to celebrate the day in their own way.

6 | How to save money on food (the quick and simple way)

It’s been interesting to notice that money savings posts are the next most popular category after single parenting. I’m a big of a personal finance geek so this pleases me no end! This post contain simple, actionable advice anyone can use to get their food shopping bill under control.

7| How to manage your money: 6 steps to financial freedom on a single income

More money advice. Coping on a single income isn’t easy. Money is probably THE most stressful part of being a single mother. So finding ways to manage your money better is key being able to be your best self. This post covers the steps you can take to empower your financial situation when you’re the only breadwinner.

8 | Thriving as a single mum: 6 lessons from Lorelai Gilmore

There aren’t many positive single mum role models in popular culture so when I discovered the Gilmore Girls I was hooked. If you haven’t discovered this feel-good classic yet then quick run to Netflix immediately! (But don’t bother with the recent revival, it’s truly awful!)

Lorelai Gilmore is a single mama who’s not only a great mum but also starts her own business and lives a great life at the heart of a supportive community. There’s a huge amount to be learnt from this quick-witted mama. (If only my local cafe owner looked like Luke!)

9| 8 quick mood boosters for when everything sucks

I’m so pleased this post snuck into the top ten because self-care an essential building block to thriving as a single mama. In this post I share eight of my favourite pick-me-ups – things I do to get me out of a funk and give myself a little boost.

10 | Dating as a single mother: Can you be bothered?

At some point most single mamas get back in the dating game. Or at least think about it. I’ve dabbled here and there over the years but frankly for me it simply isn’t a priority anymore. In this post I discuss why, and what’s top of the list for me these days.

Reading through this list it’s clear to me what direction to take my content in next year. 2018 will see more posts about:

  • solo parenting
  • personal finance
  • self-care

I’ll be moving away writing about self-employment (yes, despite this blog’s name!) and online business because that’s clearly not what most of your want to read about.

Do you agree? What was your favourite post of 2017? Let me know in the comments.

The post My top 10 blog posts of 2017 – your favourite posts in one place! appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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Hey there lady-friend. Look, I’m not a big far of new year’s resolutions. BUT today I’m going to share with you a promise I made to myself this time last year. I want it to be your commitment to yourself in 2018.

I originally wrote this as part of email sequence I sent to my list but it’s too important to only be seen by a select few. I don’t think the ‘superwoman’ problem is specific to single mamas but because we’re shouldering all the responsibilities of a family alone most of the time it can be particularly damaging.

First, let me tell you a story…

Once there was a single mum who thought she had to prove to the world that she could cope alone. She’d ‘chosen’ to have a baby by herself so she had to just soldier on bravely, shouldering all the responsibility, all the work and all the stress. Didn’t she?

She insisted on living by herself, running the house, paying the bills, doing all the cleaning, cooking, caring for the child AND running a business.

Nurturing, teaching, disciplining, loving, worrying, getting up in the night, doing the school-run, worrying about money, stressing about work.

And slowly starting to resent that it was ALL on her.

But still she refused to give in. Her mother kept saying she could come and live with her. But that would be admitting she couldn’t cope alone, wouldn’t it?

And that’s what being an adult was all about. Coping. By. Yourself.

Until her mental health came crashing down.

The stress, fear and anxiety came spilling out in outbursts of anger her child took the brunt of. And as depression that left her numb with resentment about doing all the nurturing, cooking, cleaning, earning and worrying.

She could barely get out of bed. She ground to a halt. She couldn’t stop CRYING. All she kept thinking was, “Why me? Why is this all on my shoulders?”

Then a little voice in her head whispered: “Because that’s how you insisted things be.”

Only then did she finally give in and asked for help. Only then did she admit that she COULDN’T do it all alone. And only then did she realise she didn’t need to. That it was all in her head.

There were people there waiting for her to let them in…

Yes, you’ve guessed it. That story was about me. For a long time. Five and a half years of my daughter’s life to be exact.

The good news is that when I sought help it came in bucketloads.
  • I no longer live alone, I live with my amazing mum, who’d spent years trying to convince me that being with her was the best option for us all.
  • I found a great counsellor – for free on the NHS – who taught me how to deal with my anger before explodes in a horrible mess on all those around me.
  • And I turned to friends who’d offered up their support without me having to ask.

I KNOW only too well how much you want to be seen as capable, like you’ve got your shit together. You want to be on top of things, setting a great example for your kids, and disproving the stereotype of the stressed out single mother. You want to be the best mum you can be.

That’s all well and good. But there’s only YOU.

You don’t have to do it all alone. And the more you try, the more resentful you’ll feel and the more likely you are to come crashing down. Like I did. Exhausted. Burned out. Stressed out beyond belief.

And then what? There’s only YOU.

But there needn’t be.

STOP taking on so much. Stop trying to take on more than any human being is capable of shouldering.

STOP trying to prove you’re fucking superwoman. You’re already bloody amazing for coming this far, but don’t martyr yourself, like I did, trying to prove you can do it all. Who are you doing all that proving for???

START admitting your vulnerabilities. Start admitting you need help. And witness the best side of humanity come your way as a result.

So, my last word on this is, take help when it’s offered. Seek help when you need it.

Your children deserve a human, flawed, real and happy mum, not a stressed-out, fragile, wannabe perfect one.

Do you free like you have to do it all alone? Do you find it hard to accept help, or ask for it? Let me know in the comments.

The post You’re NOT bloody superwoman! (So stop trying to be!) appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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It’s time for the November Single Mum Love In! (Slightly late I’m afraid, sorry about that!)

In this monthly series of posts I link up to the awesome and inspiring posts and articles I come across as I scour the web researching single mum fabulousness!

I also thought it would helpful to share the great resources, tips and advice I come across. Sometimes I think everyone must know about the things I discover already and am always a bit surprised when they don’t!

I see this series as a way to support the amazing community of inspiring single parent bloggers and advocates I’ve come across via this blog. I try and support them all through my social media accounts – mainly on Twitter, so do come and find me there!

Check out Single Mum Love In - the monthly round-up celebrating ground breaking mums shattering the single mum stereotype!Click To Tweet Single mum inspiration

It’s not easy answering questions about absent, or in our case non-existent fathers. I’ve always been completely open with E about her donor and how she came into the world. I love the positive angle My Single Mummy Self takes in this posts, The D word: When kids ask about an absent Daddy.

We might all have different stories about how we became solo mamas, but Rainbeaubelle’s article about being widowed, single and dating reminded me that we have far more in common than that which divides us. We all face judgements and putting ourselves out there and dating as single women is often a minefield for a variety of different, but similar, reasons!

first wife was a stay-at-home mum, but also that as women we have a role in not holding up being a SAHM as the ideal. It’s not, and despite societal pressure to conform to this fantasy of the perfect family, it never has been.

This month’s roundup couldn’t be without a nod to the festive season. Single Parents On Holiday have hit the nail on the head with their list of top 10 tips on how to survive Christmas as a single parent. Of course, if you can afford it one of their holidays would be the perfect way to escape Christmas chaos!

Single mums & work

Friday, 10 November was Equal Pay Day, the day on which because of the gender pay gap women effectively stop earning in comparison to men. For every £1 a man earns on average a woman earns just 86p. This gap hasn’t narrowed at all since 2015. This isn’t just about persuading employers to pay women more, it’s about deeper societal issues that push women towards lower paid jobs, and the barriers to equal pay that are put in our way. This Talented Ladies Club article articulates well why women earn less than me and what we can do about it.

10 reasons you have to quit your job according to James Altucher, the author of one of my favourite books, Choose Yourself. Be warned, when I read this article in 2015 I did actually quit my job!

Are you blogger or are you trying tin increase traffice to your business site? I thought I’d learned most of the traffic building tricks – having time to apply them all is another matter! – but I’m always on the look out for new techniques to learn. There’s much to admire about over 40s fashion blogger Catherine Summers from Not Dressed As Lamb and her post about increasing your blog traffic is well worth read! She recently won an award for ‘Most Addictive Blog’ so she’s definitely worth learning a thing or two from!

Single mum money

So yes I’m always harping on about budgeting. But how do you know how much to allocate to each area of your life? How much is too much? And how much should you be saving? It’s hard know if you’re on the right track so discovering this article about the 50-30-20 method was super-helpful. Obviously it’s going to be slightly different for all of us depending on our income and core living expenses. But if you’re new to budgeting this method makes things super-simple! (I like the word super!)

On Self-Employed Single Mum this month Coming up in December!

In breaking news you might have noticed that I’m gradually guiding this blog to be less about self-employment and more about ups and downs of single motherhood in general, particularly as a single mother by choice. I’ve just spent some time analysing my stats for 2017 and those topics are by far my most popular content. So this month I’ve blocked out some time for planning lots of new content for 2018.

What would you like me to write about in 2018. Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime December is packed full of Why you need to stop trying to be superwoman, how to start planning your week on a Sunday, how single motherhood saved Christmas (for me at least!), AND my guide to getting to grips with goal setting for 2018.

Want to make sure you don’t miss a post? Click here to get all my posts by email.

Thank you!

To any of you who have mentioned, shared or commented on any of my posts over the last month – a BIG BIG thank you. It’s your support that keeps me writing this blog. Every time I get supportive comments and mentions on social media it’s spurs me on to write more.

I share most of the articles and resources I’ve mentioned here on Twitter, so come join me there and you’ll see just how much support and community there is out there for us single mamas.

You could also get my tips, advice, ramblings and (sometimes) wisdom straight to your inbox by entering your details in the box below – plus I’ll send you my free self-employment guide!

ps. got an article or blog post you’d like me to feature here? Tweet me!

The post Single Mum Love In – inspiring posts, equal pay & a simple budgeting rule! appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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How do some people manage to have a debt-free Christmas? Is that even a thing? After all, it’s the time when traditionally your credit card gets a battering and any money-saving intentions go out of the window in a flurry of festive spirit.

Last year British consumers put £11bn on plastic to pay for Christmas. Half of us fear that we’ll still be paying off this year’s Christmas when we put up the tree in 2018!

Up until a couple of years ago, that was my tale of festive financial woe as well. A stocking of presents for my daughter, gifts for all the family, Christmas parties, a trip to Santa, not to mention the turkey and all the trimmings. It all costs a bomb. A bomb I’d never budgeted for and would wack on my credit card. “It’s Christmas!” I’d think.

But when the festive spirit is nothing but a distant memory all that over-spending comes back to haunt us! In the form of crippling credit card payments and never being able to save because we have to pay our debts first.

However a couple of years ago I discovered the secret to a debt-free Christmas. It’s really quite simple, and as an intelligent, fairly financially astute person, it’s rather embarrassing I’d never done it before.

Put aside money for Christmas every month!

To be honest, when I was younger I was very much a ‘live for the moment’ type person. I rarely thought about what I was going to spend next week let alone in a year’s time, so the idea of saving for Christmas was laughable.

How times change. I’m not a fan of over-indulging kids at Christmas but as a single mum it’s down to me to buy my daughter’s gifts, get a tree, take her to see Santa and all the rest of it. My mum helps out and treats my daughter to festive outings and indulgences grandparents do best, but the rest of it’s up to me.

So, with money on the tight-side, I decided to set myself a budget and save for it throughout the year. It’s no coincidence that this new ultra-financially responsible version of me came into being when I started using YNAB.

YNAB is my budgeting tool of choice and one of its main tenets is to ’embrace your true expenses’. When most of us write down our monthly budget we list our mortgage or rent, utilities, phone and internet connection. But we don’t think about the larger, but less frequent, expenses like annual insurance payments, summer activities for the kids, birthdays and yes, Christmas!

Related:  The single mum’s guide to budgeting with YNAB

The fact they need to teach this fairly basic financial message means I can’t be the only one who’s spent most of their life spending all their income every month and then acting like it’s a big surprise when Christmas comes along!

‘Embrace your true expenses’ means including these potential debt-builders in your monthly budget so that you never have to dread the arrival of a big bill.

So put away the plastic, go debt-free this Christmas:
  • In January take a look at what you’ve spent this Christmas and consider whether you can expect to spend a similar amount next year.
  • If you need to cut back figure out how you can save money – see my tips below.
  • Take your final amount and divide it by 12.
  • The figure you’re left with is the amount you need to save every month. Either put it into a separate savings account, or use a tool like YNAB so you know exactly what you’ve allocated to your Yuletide budget.
  • For example, if you decide your budget for Christmas 2018 is £350 (that was my budget last year) then you need to start saving £29 a month from January. Not too painful right?

This year my budget is £500 and because I’ve been saving it every month when I started my Christmas shopping (still a huge amount to do!) it was there waiting to be spent. Yay! In fact, I’m not sure I’ll spend that much this year which means I’ll be able to shift what’s left into the pot of money I’m saving for our summer holiday.

Related:  6 steps to financial freedom on a single income

Seriously, this is the secret to a debt-free Christmas. That and STICKING to your budget. If  your budget is tight or you’re paying off debt I know can be difficult to put aside the extra money. But do your best, save what you can, even if it’s only £10 a month as it will stop you getting into more debt next year.

Money-saving tips for your debt-free Christmas budget!
  • Agree on a spending limit of £5 or £10 for presents with your family, even the kids. Here’s a list of cheap gift ideas.
  • Do you really need to buy EVERYONE a present? Make a No Unnecessary Presents Pact,  or do a Secret Santa.
  • Get your creative hat on and make homemade presents. One year I’d made body moisturising bars out of cocoa butter and shea butter.
  • Shop around on eBay. If your little darling wants a new bike you don’t need to get a brand new one – they grow out of them so quickly – so see what you can find on eBay or Gumtree.
  • Shop online. This year I set up and Amazon wish list for my daughter’s presents, it makes it easier to keep an eye on what you’re spending.
  • Finally, check out these 50 Christmas MoneySaving Tips from MoneySavingExpert.com.

Do you have any top tips for sticking to a debt-free Christmas budget? Share them in the comments?

The post The secret to enjoying a debt-free Christmas appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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Do you have a self-employed single mum on your gift list this Christmas? Or perhaps you don’t know what to asked your loved ones for? Maybe you’d even like to treat yourself, I know I’m going to!

Either way, I’ve got THE gift guide for you!

Oh, and as it’s Black Friday today I’ve highlighted in BLUE where there’s currently a Black Friday special offer running, so move quickly to bag a bargain!

Planners/stationery Full Focus Planner

>> Full Focus Planner – my planner of choice created by productivity guru, Michael Hyatt. I was one of the first people to get my hands on this awesome planner. It’s is way more than a planner, it’s a whole system for setting goals and following through on achieving them, quarter by quarter.

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: save up to 37% on the annual subscription = 4 planners a year for $99 or a single planner for $27.50 until midnight PST Saturday 26 November. 

>> Passion Planner – another great planner that will help you set goals and the plan to create the life you’ve always wanted.


  • 24/11 50% off sitewide (excluding 2018 planner) on 24/11 + free shipping if you’re in the US. 
  • 27/11 $10 off ALL 2018 planners for 3 hours only! $5 off 1pm to 11.59pm PST
Stay in your lane notebook

>> Kemi Telford luxury notebooks – I love these recycled leather-bound notebooks with a range of sassy slogans on the cover. The ‘Stay In Your Lane’ notebook is on my Christmas list! Created by the very talented Yvonne Telford who I’m proud to say is local to me here in Surrey. If you don’t follow her on Instagram you should, her posts are inspiring and her stories put a smile every day.

Online courses

>> XOSarah’s courses – when it comes to Sarah Morgan I’m a total fan girl. She’s a great teacher and I’ve learned so much from her. Any of her courses are the perfect gift for the budding solopreneur!

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Get 30% off all her courses (Dare to Email, Grow Your Gram, The Productive Solopreneur, Pinterest Powerhouse, Guide to Photoshop) using the code PUMPKINPIE before midnight Monday.

Social media scheduling

>> Smarterqueue – seriously this is the social media scheduler that will FINALLY take the hard work out of keeping your social media channels populated with new, relevant and varied content. You can categorise content and create multiple evergreen queues. I started using it this year and I haven’t looked back. Subscription start from £13.99 a month (paid annually) and I’d certainly be very happy if someone gifted this to me! A year of social media taken care of! Cheers!

Other online business tools

>> Nosegraze WordPress themes – if you want to get your website looking fabulous I can recommend the Tweak Me theme by Nosegraze. I created this site with it! It’s a whole lot simpler to use than many themes out there and very flexible. Ashleigh, the brains behind Nosegraze, has a whole range of themes and plugins available. So go check them out.

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: get 50% off all themes and plugins by entering discount code BFCM2017 at checkout before 11.59pm GMT, 27 November 2017.

>> Canva – I use this every week to create the images you see here on this blog and on my social media channels. Use the free version or treat yourself to the premium version so you can save your brand’s fonts and colours and resize images for every platform in just a couple of clicks!

>> Todoist – after trying out MANY different online project planning tools this year I finally found the one that works for me. Todoist is super simple with a minimalist design I love. I found other tools too onerous to keep up-to-date but Todoist makes life easier instead of more complicated! At only £27.99 a year it’s an both a practical and affordable gift!


>> YNAB – not the sexist of gifts but one that will keep on giving! Read my review and you’ll understand why this budgeting tool is essential for any single mama trying to keep all the financial balls in the air!

Health & self-care SAD light

>> SAD light – suffering from the winter blues? I suffer from season affective disorder and this light has made a world of difference for me this year. In the dark days of winter when you’re stuck indoors all day this light will help lift your mood.

>> Headspace – THE meditation app loved the world over that will help you get in the habit of meditating daily. Learn all the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and get some headspace.

>> I Quit Sugar – I’m four weeks into this eight-week programme and loving having the meal planning and shopping list writing taken off my hands. Plus I’ve dropped at list a kilo simply by eating their nutrient dense, sugar-free meals. If you’re keen to quit sugar, this is the way to go.

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Get 15% off the next programme – starting 7 December – if you sign-up before midnight Sunday, 26 November and use the code BLACK15.

Stocking fillers

>> The Kickass Single Mom by Emma Johnson – THE book every single mum needs to read. Seriously. An empowering, inspiring read for any mum who wants to live the fullest, most fabulous life she can. Read my review here.

Swan teasmade

>> Teasmade – OK bear with me on this one. A couple of years ago one of my best-friends gave me one of these and promised me I’d come to depend on it. And she wasn’t wrong! We called it my ‘husband replacement’. Although I’m not sure many husbands actually do make their other halves a nice cup of tea every morning, it was something I missed from sharing my life with someone. But now I have a teasmade so who needs a husband!?

>> Pact Coffee subscription – need I say more. The ideal gift for the coffee-loving single mum in your life!

>> Selfie stick – perfect if you don’t have an ‘Instagram husband’! Take pictures of yourself and your kids from the perfect angle – it almost looks like a pro has taken it for you!

>> iPhone tripod – great for Instagram stories and Facebook live. No more wobbly camera work making your audience get seasick!

What do you want Santa to bring your this Christmas? Any of these gift ideas going to make it to your shortlist?

The post The 2017 gift guide for self-employed single mums appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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We need to talk about Facebook. You can’t deny that genius as it is Facebook is THE best way ever invented to waste time. Hours and hours and hours of it. Days and days.

In 2016 Facebook’s own stats revealed that on average we spend nearly an hour a day on Facebook. That’s a whole working day PER WEEK!

I hate to think of the hours of my life I’ve lost to mindlessly scrolling through the Facebook news feed.

But not any more.

The tyranny of the Facebook newsfeed

Think of everything else you could be doing with an extra working day a week!? Including spending more time paying attention to your kids instead of Face-stalking people you went to school with 20 years ago!

But, it took more than the knowledge that I was wasting precious time to persuade me to break the habit.

At the end of last year – the annus horriblis that saw the Brexit vote and the Trump victory – I went into Facebook crisis. Faced with the daily outpouring of political rhetoric, and pointless pontificating I realised I urgently needed to take a hiatus.

I kept getting embroiled in pointless discussions with people who already agreed with me. Or worse, working myself up into a lather arguing with people whose viewpoint was so the polar opposite of mine we would never see eye-to-eye.

I’d pop into Facebook to post in a group and half-an-hour later still be there trying to draft the perfect response to someone’s latest attention-seeking political statement. Which I’d end up deleting when I realised it wasn’t worth arguing.

Not only that but the constant barrage of ads from online entrepreneur types flogging their ‘must-watch’ webinar or ‘six-figure launch’ formulas was doing my head in.

Not only was the world full of doom and gloom, but I was constantly being told that without someone’s secret formula I wouldn’t get the success they had. Success I didn’t even want!

So I decided to bail out.

The end to time-wasting on Facebook

I needed to ESCAPE. But I didn’t want to opt out of Facebook completely. I still wanted, and needed, to use it connect in groups linked to online courses I’ve invested in. Not to mention managing my own Facebook pages and group.

Thankfully I had the Pages app on my Iphone, and until recently the Groups app too. So I  took drastic action and deleted the main Facebook app on my phone.

That took care of the temptation to browse FB while watching telly, or out and about. But what about my laptop and desktop computers?

Thankfully I discovered the Facebook News Feed Eradicator! It is the ONE tool you need to stop wasting time on Facebook, once and for all.

This piece of genius, in the form of a Google Chrome extension, has revolutionised my life. It’s given me back my ability to concentrate, my peace of mind and ultimately, my self-respect.

This is what my Facebook news feed page looks like now:

No more distracting rants, memes or links to controversial articles about how the Trump victory signals the end of the world as we know it. It probably does, but I don’t need to be constantly reminded of that fact.

But I can still check my notifications, manage my pages and get involved in the groups I want to be in.

So step by step here’s what to do to get back in control, but not close the door on Facebook completely:

1 | Delete the Facebook app from your phone

Be ruthless. This was tough to do, but I haven’t looked back. OK, I did briefly when I thought I needed the IOS app to do Facebook live broadcasts. But fortunately I discovered I can do those from my desktop.

This is the first step to reducing Facebook’s vice like grip on your attention. It’s all too easy to click on the app any time you feel bored.

(If this is too extreme for you, the next best step is to unfollow everyone and I mean EVERYONE – groups, pages, people – you don’t really need or want to hear from. That way your newsfeed will only have news from your nearest and dearest and a select couple of online mentors.)

2 | Turn off ALL notifications.

Even with the News Feed Eradicator you’ll see see notifications. You don’t want to be distracted by notifications from every Facebook page and group you’ve ever joined. So turn the bloody things off.

You should choose when you want to interact with people, groups and pages, not the other way around.

Click on Notifications in the your home page and click on Settings. From there you can turn off all notications except those from your own pages or groups.

3 | Download Google Chrome

If you don’t use Chrome already (why not?), you need to download it. You can’t eradicate your news feed without it.

4 | Download the Facebook News Feed Eradicator browser extension.

Click here to get the Facebook News Feed Eradicator extension and add it to your browser. And just like that, the ten circles of distraction that is the Facebook news feed will disappear and be replaced by an inspiring motivational quote.

5 | Enjoy a more productive, peaceful life!

I’m not going to pretend that doing all of this isn’t challenging. I can remember a time when I couldn’t imagine not fully participating in Facebook.

But I knew I would be better off without it. That I wouldn’t miss out on anything truly important. Still, I approached it with a ‘never say never’ approach.

I told myself that if I REALLY missed the news feed I could always uninstall the extension. But nearly a year later, I haven’t even considered it.

I do occasionally use the Safari browser on my phone to look at the news feed, but I’ve made sure my phone asks for my password every time. This means I have to stop and think before I mindlessly scroll.

So, have I convinced you to eradicate the Facebook news feed? What do you do to avoid wasting time on social media?

Got a question? Leave a comment, let’s chat!

The post The ONE tool you need to stop wasting time on Facebook appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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Get to bed early. Seriously, getting more sleep is THE ANSWER to everything.

It sounds obvious, but all too often sleep falls to the bottom of the list. There’s always one more thing to do, one more job to tick off, and before you know it it’s midnight.

I’ve VERY guilty of this and when you’ve got a lot on your plate it’s hard to prioritise sleep. But it’s a vicious cycle. You stay up late trying to get everything done, then you’re so tired the next day you can’t concentrate, and end up feeling like you have to stay up late again to catch up.

I’m have a tendency to be a night owl. But night owl tendencies simply aren’t compatible with having small children. They’re going to wake you up early and getting by on five or six hours of sleep is going to have a major effect on your health, your emotional state, and your ability to handle stress.

Yes, I know sleep deprivation comes with the parenting territory. Small children are sleep thieves. I had a nightmare with my daughter and sleep when she was tiny, but now she sleeps through the night 99.9 per cent of the time.

Even when she doesn’t it shouldn’t be the straw that breaks my sanity, if I’m getting to bed early enough.

Any sleep issues I have now are a result of self-sabotage and bad habits.

So, at the start of September I set myself the goal of going to bed at 10pm every night. For two weeks solid I was asleep before 11 pm, if not earlier, and I was blown away by the difference it made.

I felt like a new person. I was more productive, I had way more energy, I felt happier. My eyes were brighter and my skin clearer. But most importantly, I was a FAR more patient and tolerant mother.

Plus, when my daughter did wake up in the night I was able to handle it calmly and patiently instead of getting angry that she’d woken me up when I’d only got to bed an hour before!

How to prioritise getting more sleep

What I did was put an action plan in place to get more sleep. I made a note of the things that were stopping me getting to bed early and worked out strategies to neutralise them.

Sticking to the plan isn’t easy. I fell off the wagon not long after my two week experiment. But it’s a work in progress. Generally I get to bed early two or three nights out of seven so I consider that winning.

I’ve proven that my strategies work so when the warning signs of tiredness and irritability hit, I know what I need to do.

Here are my four strategies for getting more sleep:

1 | Get more sleep by having an evening ritual.

Check out this post I wrote about my evening ritual. I have a short list of things to do to get myself ready for bed and for the next day, and I know how long it takes.

So if I want to be asleep by 10.00pm I know I need to turn off the TV and start my ritual – get stuff ready for breakfast, write the next day’s to-do list, brush my teeth etc, write in my journal, read – by 9.30pm.

I’ve got a reminder on my phone to let me know it’s time to switch off the get ready for bed.

2 | Get more sleep by not working in the evenings.

This is the hardest part. I’d fallen into the habit of being spectacularly unproductive in the day because I was so tired, and then working in the evening to catch-up.

I’d kid myself that it’s not really working if I’m watching a mindless TV programme at the same time, but even opening my laptop is the kiss of death.

If your situation means you have to work in the evenings then at least try to set a deadline to turn off your laptop. This will give you time to unwind before hitting the sack. I’ve set my Mac to turn off at 9.30pm. But for me it’s better not to open it in the first place.

3. Get more sleep switching off the TV.

This was another trap I fell into. Starting to watch something gripping that went on until 10pm. I’d think ‘Oh I’ll just watch the first half and record the rest’, but it’s not hard to guess what always happened. Another late night.

So instead, I have a policy of not watching anything that ends after 9.30pm. Instead I record programmes so I can watch them at an earlier time another day.

4. Get more sleep by banning screens from the bedroom.

For a long time I’ve had a family policy that all devices stay downstairs. Including my laptop and phone.

At one point I used my phone as my alarm clock. Big mistake. I’d end up staying up late scrolling through Facebook or responding to WhatsApp messages from my friends in Australia in the middle of the night. And of course if your phones’ by your bed it’s the first thing you pick up when you wake up in the morning!

I was constantly wired and in a state of high alert. But also being the light from mobile devices WILL disrupt your sleep. Even the light from someone else’s phone will disturb you. So make a pact that everyone leaves them downstairs.

So I bought myself an alarm clock and plugged in the phone to charge overnight downstairs.

Do you struggle to get enough sleep? Does it affect other areas of your life?

Recently, someone asked me what I struggle with when it comes to my wellbeing. Eating right, getting enough exercise or managing my workload?

For me the answer was none of these. It was getting enough sleep. Yes I do also struggle with exercise, eating well and being productive but what I realised is that getting more sleep solves all of those problems.

If you’re tired you don’t feel like exercising, you’re more likely to eat sugary crap, and you’re less productive.

So set boundaries to ring-fence your sleep time. Fiercely protect it from self-sabotage.

Make sleep your top priority & everything else will fall into place.

Linked to Not Dressed As Lamb’s #SaturdayShareLinkUp

The post How to get more sleep and win at life! appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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Do you have an evening routine? I bet you have. We all have certain rituals we perform before tucking ourselves in for the night. Even if it’s just washing our face and brushing our teeth.

But have you thought about how to use your evening routine to help you get more out of every day?

We’ve all heard a tonne of advice about morning routines. Every man and his dog has heard about the miracle morning (click here if you haven’t). And we’re constantly being told how super-successful people are up 5.30am and have done an hour of yoga and meditation before you or I have even reached out for the snooze button.

But evening routines and rituals are just as important. They’re key to setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep and a productive morning the following day.

How to use your evening routine to help you get more out of every dayClick To Tweet What is an evening routine?

Top athletes and sports people often have a preparation ritual they go through to get themselves ready for a big shot, kick or game. They have a prescribed set of actions to get themselves in the zone.

Do you remember how the legendary England rugby player and World Cup winner, Jonny Wilkinson, used to hold his hands together and do a little dance on the spot before taking penalty kicks?

That was part of the routine he used to get himself in the right mental and physical space to take those winning kicks under extreme pressure.

We might not be under the same pressure as sports people but we can use the power of rituals in everyday life.

Related:  How setting rock solid boundaries will help you achieve your life goals (+ FREE worksheet)

An evening routine is a set of steps you take to bring one day to a close and get ready for the next. We are creatures of habit so no matter how free-flowing you like to be I’m sure there are certain actions you take every evening out of habit, without thinking about them.

However, sometimes our habits hinder rather than help us. Does any of this sound familiar?

  • No matter how hard you try you usually stay up too late and end up feeling knackered the next day.
  • You struggle to get to sleep because you’ve got into the habit of scrolling through you phone right before bed.
  • You’re always rushing about in the morning because you never remember to get your child’s school water, fruit and school books ready the night before. (Ahem! Guilty!)

The great news is that we can change our habits, to set ourselves up for success. Just like Jonny Wilkinson. (And if you don’t know who Jonny Wilkinson is, you’re clearly not English so it probably doesn’t matter!).

The benefits of enhancing your evening routine

As I mentioned above, we all fall into habits that make up our daily rituals. So why not take a look at what you do and try to optimise it.

Here’s why it’s worth tweaking your routine to make it work better for you:

  • so you can get to bed early and sleep better;
  • to help you stop worrying about your day by drawing a mental line under it;
  • to mentally prepare for the next day;
  • so you can get organised for the next morning.

And listen, it doesn’t have to be anything rigid or complicated. Just a simple set of actions you take to draw one day to a close and get ready for the next.

For me, putting some thought into my evening routine has helped me get the mornings off to a much happier, calmer start. There’s been far less yelling required to get us out of the door to school, and I can get to my desk knowing exactly what I need to achieve that day.

Related:  The importance of scheduling downtime

My evening routine

I read The Miracle Morning a couple of years ago, but I’d never given much thought to my evening routine until I read this blog post by Michael Hyatt.

Now I have Michael Hyatt’s planner, the Full Focus Planner, and in it there’s a double page spread dedicated to creating ‘rituals’. There are four – morning, evening, workday startup and workday shutdown. Here’s my evening ritual:

Notice how each activity has a length of time next next to it. This means I can work out how long my evening routine should take, and can start it in time to get to bed when I want to.

I aim to be asleep by 10.30pm on weeknights so if I want to achieve that I need to kick off my routine by 9.30pm.

I created this routine in early September and it’s not written in stone. Tweak your routine as you go. For instance, I’ve added in getting my daughter’s fruit and water ready for school to avoid the morning rush. And it’ll continue to change as life inevitably does!

The beauty of the Full Focus Planner is that you get the opportunity to totally revise your rituals every quarter.

How to improve your own evening routine

So here’s what to do.

  • Get a sheet of paper and write down your current routine.
  • Now thing about your aims. What would you like an evening routine to make possible? Whether it’s going to bed earlier, sleeping better or being better prepared for those busy weekday mornings.
  • Write down the activities you could do to make those aims possible and how long they’ll take. Writing a journal might help take a load off your mind so you can get to sleep. Going over your to-do list for tomorrow might help you start the next day with a clear plan. Maybe you could pack lunches the night before or get breakfast things ready?
  • Add up the time you need to allow for your routine. Then put a reminder in your phone when it’s time to start your evening routine.

Remember to tweak it as you go. You’ll naturally find that some things don’t pan out. For instance cleaning out our rabbit’s cage used to be part of my evening routine, but it takes too long so now it’s part of my morning routine

And like I said, it’s not rigid. My priority is to get to bed by 10.30pm so if I’ve stayed at later than normal watching something unmissable – like the George Michael documentary that was on last week for instance – sometimes I drop parts of the routine to achieve that.

So do you think an evening routine would work for you? Do you already have an evening routine or have you tried to improve yours? What worked, and what didn’t?

Got questions? Leave a comment, let’s chat!

The post How to enhance your evening routine to set yourself up for success appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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It’s time for the October Single Mum Love In!

In this monthly series of posts I link up to the awesome and inspiring posts and articles I come across as I scour the web researching single mum fabulousness!

I also thought it would helpful to share the great resources, tips and advice I come across. Sometimes I think everyone must know about the things I discover already and am always a bit surprised when they don’t!

I see this series as a way to support the amazing community of inspiring single parent bloggers and advocates I’ve come across via this blog. I try and support them all through my social media accounts – mainly on Twitter, so do come and find me there!

Check out Single Mum Love In - the monthly round-up celebrating ground breaking mums shattering the single mum stereotype!Click To Tweet Single mum inspiration

How being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a single parent – Paper & Oats – there are so many great lessons to be learned as both a single parent and from running a business solo. Kelsey from Paper & Oates started her own online marketing and design business not long after becoming a single mum when her daughter was born.

To the mom who loves motherhood but miss her freedom too –  Motherly. I’m not the kind of mum who is hopelessly devoted to my child and can never be apart from her. I’m the opposite in fact. Don’t get me wrong she is the centre of my world, but my world has plenty of other facets to it. I need those other facets just as much as I need her. But sometimes we’re made to feel guilty for wanting our lives to be about more than our children, or for complaining that it’s hard. It’s not selfish, it’s not ungrateful, you’re allowed to be a women, a person, AND a mother.

It’s OK to be a crap parent sometimes – The Single Swan – in a similar vein to the post above single mum blogger, Pen, writes about something we ALL feel. Guilt about our less than stellar parenting moments. We all think we’re going to do things so much better than other parents BEFORE we actually have a real life child of our own to cope with. Sometimes all we can do is get through the day and try again tomorrow!

The single parent’s invisible helpers – Slate – I read this with interest because while I have parented alone for most of my daughter’s life we’ve lived with my mum since the start of this year. She picks up the slack, helping out with the school run when I have to work, doing most of the cooking, and just being someone else my daughter can hang out with, which means I get more down time. It works both ways. She broke her wrist a couple of weeks ago, and so I know she’s been relieved that I’ve been on hand to help her out.

Single mom statistics – Wealthy Single Mommy – I think I’m going to have to do a similar UK-focused post because I found these stats fascinating. Because it reveals just how vital single mums are. What’s happening in the US is often reflected here. So in that case we are a huge, often overlooked, demographic in today’s society. Ignore us at your peril.

Single mum reading

I raved about Emma Johnson’s book The KickAss Single Mom in this slot last month. It’s OUT NOW, and I wrote a full review here.

This months’ book is: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.

This book was recommended to me by Sarah Morgan from XOSarah.com, and it’s a book that will help you understand yourself, and those around you.

According to Rubin we all fit into four basic personality types linked to how we respond to expectations. By understand which type we are, and the types of those around us, we can be happier and have better relationships.

Upholders find it easy to do what’s expected of them by others, such as their boss, or themselves, while obligers only respond to the expectations of others. Questioners need to buy into why they’re doing something, and rebels resist all expectations.

To figure out which you are  the book comes with a nifty questionnaire – or you can complete it here. Turns out I’m a Rebel, with Questioner tendencies. Which explains ALOT!

The book gives practical tips to help you motivate yourself and also to help you understand what makes those around you tick.

Check it out on Amazon.

Single mum money

A few days ago I published a post about my favourite budgeting tool, YNAB, so I’m not going to go on about it again here. The only downside of YNAB is that it’s not free – although there is a 34-day free trial period.

While I highly recommend using YNAB because it’s the only budgeting tool I’ve found that helps you control future spending, not just record how you’ve spent money in the past.

However, I totally get that you might want a free alternative. If forking out money to get in control of your budget simply isn’t an option here are a couple of alternatives. Both of these will help you see all your balances in one place and categorise your spending.

On Self-Employed Single Mum this month Coming up in November!

Lots of juicy stuff! The benefit of evening rituals, the importance of getting more sleep and where to find online communities for single mothers by choice.

What would you like me to write about? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you!

To any of you who have mentioned, shared or commented on any of my posts over the last month – a BIG BIG thank you. It’s your support that keeps me writing this blog. Every time I get supportive comments and mentions on social media it’s spurs me on to write more.

I share most of the articles and resources I’ve mentioned here on Twitter, so come join me there and you’ll see just how much support and community there is out there for us single mamas.

You could also get my tips, advice, ramblings and (sometimes) wisdom straight to your inbox by entering your details in the box below – plus I’ll send you my free self-employment guide!

ps. got an article or blog post you’d like me to feature here? Tweet me!

Got questions? Leave a comment – let’s chat!

The post Single mum love in – inspiring posts, an enlightening book, budgeting tools and more! appeared first on Self-Employed Single Mum.

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