• Nicola Prentis runs her business, teaching courses on personal finance, as a single mom.
  • Due to limited working hours, she has adjusted how and when she eats and finds strange times to work.
  • She even involves her kids in brainstorming sessions to get fresh ideas.

This isn't one of those "how I became a millionaire single mom" stories. As inspiring as those might be, most of us are much closer to the beginning than the end of that path.

Single parents with businesses are juggling clients and deadlines with school pick-ups, endless laundry, and meal prep. We can turn three pieces of bread, a can of beans, and last week's carrots into a child-friendly meal for fusspots.

Using that same ingenuity, I've managed to stretch my available working hours into the productivity and income of a full-time job.

I changed when I eat

Adopting the "16:8" pattern meant I could eat breakfast later, after completing the morning school run. But the real game changer was my 3 p.m. lunches. It keeps me full past my children's 7 p.m. dinner time. One less meal to plan, shop, and prep.

It does help that I live in Spain, where lunch is traditionally the main meal and dinner is a much lighter — and often later — snack. But this also feels right for my body.

I changed what I eat

I rarely batch cook. The problem with batch cooking is that it's still cooking, and cooking is a time-sucker. I opt for no-cook or low-cook, things like pre-made soups and salads or stir-fries with noodles or gnocchi, which cook in just a few minutes.

I do, however, batch shop. I work out how many of each thing we get through a week for perishables and a month for non-perishables and buy enough at once.

This is made easier because I eat the same meal for as many weeks as I can stomach. So far, my limit has been five weeks of salmorejo — a cold Spanish soup, similar to gazpacho. The soup hits all the main food groups as it's served with croutons, chopped veggies, jamon, and a crumbled boiled egg.

I do my admin in the playground

I spend almost 2 hours a day watching my two sons in the playground after school. That was dead time until I started taking my little Chromebook with me and working. I leave certain kinds of tasks specifically for this extra slot I've magicked into my day, like admin and emailing. When they're happily playing with friends, I often get a stretch of time long enough to write marketing content.

Also, on the walk back from dropping off the kids or picking them up from school, I send myself voice notes that I can later transcribe by AI and turn into material. It's a great time for listening to podcasts relevant to my business too.

Walking has another plus: it can enhance creativity. That's what Stanford University researchers found in a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The participants who went for walks saw an 81% increase in tests measuring divergent thinking, a thought process associated with creativity.

I make use of sleepless nights

My children are 6 and 9 but they still regularly wake me in the night for anything from going to the bathroom to throwing up. In the past, if I couldn't get back to sleep, I'd just lie there, restless and awake, until the alarm. Now I get up and work instead. Thanks to some of these pre-dawn wakeups, I have built a website, launched my business, and regularly beat deadlines.

Don't get me wrong — I'd never wake up that early on purpose, but making the most of it has been productive. I usually get a full night's sleep the next night because I have to go to bed early to compensate. But it's not like I'm sacrificing my evening social life because I don't have one as a single mother anyway.

I use my kids as inspiration

I run ideas past them, and things like logos and my business name have evolved with their input because children have unique and amazing insights. My then 8-year-old once suggested a pricing strategy I later heard from a business coach — to put up prices until people stopped buying and then go back to the figure just before that.

My kids have also been useful in other ways. For example, as I teach courses on personal finance, explaining the concept of the stock market to a 9-year-old has helped. Hearing how he explained it back to me also led to successful posts on social media. It was told from the perspective of "if a child can understand this, everyone can."

I may not be a millionaire entrepreneur — yet — but if I get there, this will be how I did it.

Got a personal essay about life as a single parent that you want to share? Get in touch with the editor: [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider