Why Every Single Mom Should Have a Journal
Journaling has amazing benefits and is a lifelong habit of mine, passed down from my mother who’s an avid journaler herself. Even before I started exploring the concept of self-care and intentionality, journaling for my own sanity was already firmly rooted in me.
Many people immediately think of the classic middle school “Dear Diary....” format with the secret lock attached to a flower box. (If you were really fancy you had the secret password journal where you had to speak the password. Never mind the fact that it could easily be pried open, recording your password was impossible and attempting to speak your password clear enough to unlock it was an absolutely awful experience. Ah….memories.)
However, journaling is different for everyone and doesn’t have to be your classic narrative date entries. Journaling can be anything from brief thoughts and phrases written throughout the day, colleges and sketches, ongoing dream boards, or a combination of everything and anything that comes to mind. Whatever approach you take keeping a journal is a good idea for several reasons, especially as a single mother.
How can having a journal help?
1. Catharsis. Journaling can be a great way to brain dump and unload everything that’s cluttering your thoughts. It can also be a fantastic way to vent especially if you’re still hashing out a situation your friends have heard about a million times over, or if you fear some of your thoughts might hurt someone's feelings.
2. Mindfulness. Evoking a state of mindfulness is a great skill to have and one that journaling can help develop. It takes you out of autopilot and gives you an opportunity to really connect with your thoughts and focus.
3. Self-awareness. You’d be amazed at what thoughts and beliefs are revealed while your writing in your journal that you weren’t aware of. Journaling can help bring to the forefront something that you might have been purposefully neglecting or avoiding. The brain is wonderful at forcing important things to the forefront one way or another and journaling can be a safe outlet (you know before you go crazy and start throwing bricks around).
4. Setting goals/expectations. There are several studies that show a strong correlation between writing and speaking things and then achieving them. Basically, journaling can be the first step toward putting a thought into action.
Fair warning, however, journaling can have its downfall if used incorrectly. Be careful of falling for these tendencies when journaling.
• Wallowing in self-pity. Sometimes people will fill their journals with anything and everything sad and depressing. They'll write everything that’s going wrong in their lives and then go about the rest of their day in this sucky state of mind. If you’re releasing negative thoughts, make sure you’re truly letting them go. Write/draw/tape it to your journal and leave it there.
• Self-Justification. Be careful when putting down a situation in which you felt you were wronged. Sometimes people turn to journaling to justify their own action to themselves, even if they might have been wrong or if their decision is a bad one. It’s okay to be confident in your choices, just make sure you’ve looked at the situation from all perspectives too.
Overall, however, I’m a believer that journaling can be a key component in helping women remain focused and clear, relieve stress and be an amazing source of self-care.
Won’t it be just more work though?
Single moms get busy so the idea of taking time to sit and write something in a journal can feel like one more exhausting task but forming a new habit A: always takes a bit of effort before it’s effortless and B: will benefit you in the long run.
I mentioned journaling as a form of self-care because often times, depending on how you’re choosing to use your journal, people feel more relaxed, confident, organized, and clear-headed. This is compared to zoning out or “relaxing” by scrolling through social media or binge-watching TV in which studies have shown actually leave people feeling tenser, discouraged or stressed, mostly because of the blast of negative content we receive from these outlets.
Taking 30 or even just 15 minutes of your free time to write down how you’re feeling, tap into some creativity, or set some goals is worth the time.
I personally have writing in my journal ingrained into my routine so it doesn’t feel like another task I have to squeeze onto my to-do list. Sunday nights I take time to design and organize my bullet journal, which I use for keeping track of important tasks I need to get done during the week for both my businesses and personal life. I use my personal journal in the morning to set my intention for the day and goal setting, and in the evening during our “quiet hour,” I might use my journal to write about my day/feelings/state of mind or grab my writing journal and write a short story as a creative outlet.
How do I start journaling?
Seems like a silly question but figuring out exactly what you want to use journaling for is a legitimate question. I have several separate journals that I use for different things, but some people like having just one big journal that they use for everything.
If you’re feeling creative you can check out Pinterest for some bullet journal inspiration. I’m not an artsy type so my bullet journal layout it super simple and only if I’m feeling wild I might doodle a picture in the corner, so don’t feel pressured to turn into an artist by all the pictures you see. The great thing about bullet journals is how customizable they can be, it’s whatever you want to make it.
If you’re struggling with what to actually write, prompts are a great way to get you thinking and get the words going. (If you’re choosing to draw there are drawing prompts out there too believe it or not!)
You can also involve your children too, which can be a great way to open up dialogue and communication with them, especially older children who might not be as forthcoming while having a discussion.
A shared journal is a journal that you both write in together. For example, you might ask your child how their date went and leave the journal on his/her bed and they respond and leave the journal back on your bed and you continue passing it back and forth (like passing notes in class! Ah….memories again.)
You can also encourage your child to keep their own journal as a way for them to safely let out their emotions and thoughts. As I mentioned earlier, my habit of journaling started simply because I would see my mom writing in hers.
The possibilities for how you use a journal are really endless and completely up to you! So go pick out a notebook and pen that inspires you and catches your eye and see how journaling works out for you!