How do successful single parents keep it all together?
After all, a single mother has twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears. But it’s also twice the hugs, twice the kisses, twice the love and twice the pride!
There are three requirements for being a single parent:
- Hard work
- Faith… Wait, also time, time management, patience… I can keep going! What I’m saying is it’s certainly not easy.
Here are some secrets from a veteran to help you kick start your single motherhood journey:
- Find A Work Schedule That Suits Your Family
As a freelancer, I’m lucky to work around my schedule, but it wasn’t always this way. I used to try to juggle everything, studying, working, and taking care of my two kids all by myself.
So give yourself a chance to take a deep breath. Try talking to your boss. Some bosses are understanding and will allow you to work a more convenient shift if you have a multi-shift job or long working hours. Maybe arrive earlier so you can leave on time to pick up your kids from school or leave in between your shifts and stay for longer after. Don’t be afraid to express your needs to your boss!
- Schedule Kid-Free Time
I’m not saying you have to go out for a girls’ night every weekend. But I am saying there is no harm in getting away for a while so you can enjoy a pedicure or an outdoor coffee with a friend. Remember: married couples have their date nights, or at least times when they hand the kids off to each other. Single motherhood is hard work and you deserve time off every once in a while.
- Don’t Obsess About Things You Can’t Control
No one can force your child’s other parent to visit. No one can force him to show up to a parent-teacher meeting. You can’t help it if he promises something and doesn’t keep his word. That truth hurts.
At the beginning, these moments really upset me to the point of tears. It still bothers me every now and then but these are the other parent’s problems —not mine. I learned not to lose sleep over it and so should you! Focus instead on what you can control.
It’s easy to lose your cool when you have to be “on” all the time. Don’t yell, because it’s not healthy for your children and you’ll regret it afterwards. Instead, walk away and count to 10 or just laugh it off. You’ll feel better in a minute, and ready to face your family.
- Don’t Have A Competition With Yourself
I often try to do it all! Help with homework, play, clean up, drop off the kids to practice, pick up the groceries, and of course work.
But then I realized: No one is keeping score of the unmade beds or the messy living room. Instead of rushing everything, I decided to take it easy. This more laidback approach takes a lot of pressure off you!
- Answer questions honestly
Questions will come up about the changes in your family, or about the absence of one parent. Answer your child’s questions in an open, honest, and age-appropriate way.
- Eliminate “guilt” from your vocabulary
It’s always easy for single parents to feel guilty about the time they don’t have or the things they provide for their children. But for your own sense of well-being, it’s better to focus on all the things you do accomplish on a daily basis and all the things you do provide — and don’t forget about all the love, attention, and comfort you’re responsible for.
If you ever question your day-to-day achievements, just make a list. List all the things you’ve done and you’ll overcome your feeling of under-accomplishment.
Believe me when I say this guilt will make your life harder! I faced it the hard way and to this day I suffer because of it. But then I decided to put an end to it and started by knowing the difference between fake guilt and real guilt. We can be very unfair to ourselves when we blame ourselves for things out of our control.
- Take time for your children
No matter how busy a week you have, had and will have, always make time for your kids. I mean quality time. I made double the effort when my kids were younger, going out of my way to plan fun family days. And most importantly, focus on cultivating the love between you and your kids.
- Congratulate Yourself
I know this sounds silly, but if you live alone with your kids, no one is going to pat you on the back when your kids are finally potty-trained or when you plan a great family fun day after working all day. You should be aware of these major achievements and know you’re the one making it all happen. I smile proudly when my son opens the door for me or helps carry our shopping bags without me having to prompt him. When my daughter says thank you and please, I feel good that my constant “say please and thank you” speech has sunk in. I do it all and I deserve the recognition. And so do you.
Lastly, I can tell you this:
You can try and fail at many things in your life but never stop giving 100% at being the best mom you can. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have!