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When I think back, I now understand that as a first-time single parent I was emotionally depleted, worn out and completely spread too thin. I had to face the truth of being alone with a precious child to raise, bills to pay, a family unit to run, and just 24 hours in the day. No big surprise I was constantly stressed!
Six years have passed, and I can securely say that being a single parent has been very hard and tiresome, but at the same time, it’s given me some of the best prizes anyone could ask for. In case you’re a single parent, you’ll most definitely hit a few knocks and turns along the way. Here are five ways that can enable you to climate the unpleasant occasions and upgrade the delight of parenting alone.
1. Create a Support Squad
When I first became a single mom, I found that the saying “Not all superheroes wear capes” was such a relatable articulation to many of us, single parents. I live in a state with just 1 nearby relative who isn’t always available to help me out with the little one. Long days and considerably longer nights began to take a toll on me. I had no one to call and everything I tried to do seem to blow up in my face.
I began to feel as though I was in this world all alone and not one single person could possibly understand how I felt. That was until the point that I met another single mother of a child too. We shared our stories, laughed and even cried about the inconveniences and the joys of parenting. She revealed to me how she had a couple of moms in her corner that took part in weekend mommy swaps. These mothers created a network of women that could support one another in need. Meal trains, babysitting, and companionship were few of the things these women were about to achieve while working together.
Through this recommendation, I was able to meet several mothers that comprehended the type of support I needed. We created solid bonds that can never be broken. As life went on our needs changed. Nonetheless, we will always be here for one another. I found that it was essential to have an emotionally supportive squad of people that helped me up while I was down, that also permitted me to show empathy and compassion towards others in similar circumstances.
2. Prioritize Prioritize Prioritize
Sometimes I end up so overpowered by the important things I have on my plate, that I can’t get started with anything. I tried creating the perfect to-do list but everything on my list seemed to need my immediate attention. So now what do I do One concept I had to understand is the contrast between the critical and the essential. What are my urgent tasks and what are just important to me? I had to understand that difference, so I could maintain my sanity effectively.
It seems the vital things can wait while the urgent things hit us over the head. Our temperament as single parents is to pick what we think to be urgent on the grounds that we act quickly instead of reasoning about the decision we have and planning the best thing to do. Our needs and objectives can help us figure out what is truly urgent and what can wait. Once I figured that out, I was able to move through life with less stress and anxiety.
3. Ask for help
I’m sure everyone has heard the infamous song “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child where women are being applauded for doing what needs to be done. Mothers are warrior’s, right? We are the first to wake up in the morning, and the last one to lay down at night. We are doctors, teachers, servants, lawyers, caregivers and so much more. But who might be the one to help us when we fall sick? Who will watch over us when our jobs as mothers are ceaseless.
Oftentimes, we correlate help to weakness. But why? Why does pride seem to have such a strong hold on us? Pride has caused many missed opportunities for assistance in my life. What’s wrong with asking for a little help? What’s the worst thing someone can say? No?
As a single mom, I pride myself on having the capacity to survive alone. I generally saw that as a strength, to the point when I couldn’t be strong. I was forced to relinquish some of that control and asked for help. Honestly, it was hard, but the outcome was so much greater.
“Sometimes, asking for help is the most meaningful example of self-reliance.”
4. Never Feel Guilty
I recently started working a 2nd job to generate some additional income. But what I didn’t want to admit was that I really wanted some time away. I needed to feel like my old self again. I wanted to make plans with friends, have adult conversations, and meet new people. Things were amazing. I was starting to feel like things were getting back to normal for me emotionally. I had time to chat with people, I had some free time before and after my shifts to explore the town or just binge on some rated-R movies on Netflix.
That was until my son started to cry. He told me he was sad that I was working every other weekend. He wanted me home everyday spending every minute I have with just him. It crushed me. I felt so bad that he was feeling this way. My first thought was to quit. I told myself that I didn’t really need this job anyway. I gave myself every reason known to man why I should just leave my part-time job and spend every ticking second with my child, so he wouldn’t feel abandoned.
Usually, guilt makes us feel that we’ve neglected to satisfy a commitment or satisfy an obligation. It’s imperative to recognize and process your feelings. Why would do I feel terrible about leaving my child while I work? Why do I feel I’m not deserving of relaxation? When I asked myself these questions, I understood my blame originated from a more profound issue.
Finally, I was forthcoming with myself and recognized that the things that brought me the most guilt, were things that didn’t really belong to me. I felt guilty for being a single mother like there was something I could do to change the circumstance. But why? I didn’t ask them to leave. I’ve left every door open for them to do the “right” thing. All of a sudden it hit me. It wasn’t guilt I was feeling, it was sadness. I have the right to have a good time. I deserve the right to share my time with other people besides my child. I have the right to do things that influence me to feel great without going through the emotional attack I have with myself.
5. Bury the Hatchet
Everyone has a story as to why they are now parenting alone, and I truly understand the struggle. I have figured out how to be the ghost under the bed whisperer, the boo-boo kisser, the personal lullaby performer, all alone, 24 hours a day. Yet I still seem to get up every day at the crack of dawn to do it all over again. Because these were the cards I was dealt.
Many times, the thought of it all has brought me to tears and at times I’ve had to really check my spirit. And when I least expected it, my son asked the ultimate question. “Mommy, do I have a daddy?” I was stunned, to say the least. I had thoughtfully planned out my response for nearly 6 years, but the time came for me to give an answer I was speechless. I was put on the spot and I had to acknowledge my child’s questions.
I told him about his dad and he asked where he was. I said, “Hun, your daddy isn’t ready to be a part of our family right now.” As hard as that was for me to deal with, I understood that being bitter about my circumstance didn’t bring his father around. Hating his decision to be absent would not help my son process his emotions. I needed to forgive to be able to remove the hurt and pain he caused me. I changed my perspective on my life story and realized his decision to leave is making me better despite the fact that it hurt. I finally buried the hatchet because in reality becoming a single mother happened FOR me and not to me.