Single parenting is no easy task. Not only is our time limited, but our emotions are on a roller coaster ride! One moment we may be relishing in our accomplishments and the next we feel guilt, frustration, or low confidence. But not to worry, although single parenting may be challenging at times, it can be the most fulfilling and rewarding time of your life. I’ve picked up some secrets along the way that will make your journey easier…
1. Let Go of Fear and Embrace the Opportunity of Change
There are countless negative scenarios and questions that you can come up with as a single parent. What if I can’t do this alone? What if my kid resents me? What if I fail by myself? What if I’m creating a dysfunctional kid with my wrong decisions? So many fear-filled questions create so much anxiety that’s simply useless. Fear and anxiety won’t move you forward, it’ll paralyze you and suck the power right out of you. As a single parent, it’s so important to remain confident, strong, and positive. Instead of imaging all the bad things that can happen, begin imagining all the good that will come out of the stable and loving life you will create for your kids. Look forward to the challenge, growth, and learning both you and your kids will go through. New journeys always bring great opportunities – but only if you see them – if you’re too busy being nervous or afraid, you’ll be blind to all the wonderful new changes in your life.
2. Let Go of Resentment
This is a tough one. Yes, I get it, there may be a crap-load of reasons to resent your situation, the other parent, life, or even yourself but ask yourself: How is resentment or anger helping me or my children? How is it making my journey better? It doesn’t. We hold on to resentment because it gives us someone to blame for our unfortunate turn of events. We all like to think that we’re the poor ones being ‘victimized’ and we go about telling our sob stories to anyone that would listen. But as we’re busy story-telling, we’re missing out on huge opportunities for personal growth and change in our lives. This is our chance to learn about ourselves and from our experiences, to ask ourselves what we did to put ourselves here, and to stop and notice the blessings that have come about from this experience. We can only learn what to do differently when we let go of thinking we’ve been ‘wronged’ and focus on what we can do to make things ‘right’ moving forward.
3. There’s Perfection in Imperfection
We often beat ourselves up for making mistakes or blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong with our kids. If our kid isn’t as athletic as the other kids on his team, we blame ourselves. If they get into trouble, we wonder where we went wrong. Everything becomes our fault and we’re our worst critic. The reality is that we’re not perfect and we never will be. Perfection is an oasis in the desert. We keep striving for it but never reach it because there’s always something else we need to do to make things perfect. So just stop. Stop putting yourself under the pressure to get everything right. Parenting is a learn as you go process – you’re going to make mistakes but mostly you’re going to get things right. It’s the way we deal with our mistakes that makes the most impact. If we accept our imperfections, learn from our mistakes, and strive to do better, then we teach our kids to strive for consistent growth vs. perfection. We teach them that there is perfection in imperfection. Learn from your mistakes, your parent’s mistakes, other parents, read different parenting strategies…just learn, try new things, and grow.
4. Find a Network for Your Sanity
No, not a cable network…a network of people. This is going to be SO imperative to your sanity. We tend to think that we are alone in this, but we’re really not. We have people that are willing to help us along the way and other mothers/fathers that need our help. We’re not always going to be able to stay home when our kids have days off from school or pick them up on time from sports or day care. It’s so important to find family members or close friends that are willing to help when you’re in a bind. Get to know some of the moms that have kids in the same class, sport, etc. and set up play dates. Then, alternate with the moms so all of you could have some time to run errands or just relax. Find a good babysitter and a backup babysitter. Find people you can trust and check in with your kids to see how comfortable they feel with that person.
5. Schedule Alone Time
So now that you have a network, schedule some alone time. Time to do something that you enjoy doing: gym, golf, catching up with friends, Netflix, meditating, whatever makes you happy. We spend so much time catering to our kids, parents, work, etc. that we lose ourselves in the process. One day, we look at our grocery cart and realize 90% of it is for our kids because we don’t even know what we enjoy eating anymore. We actually enjoy Disney and Pixar movies now because we’ve forgotten what an adult movie even looks like. We have 2 friends that still enjoy hanging out with us, but 1 of them is our sister so she kinda has to. Yes, this is what happens when we don’t take time for ourselves – we lose touch with our social life, what we love to do, and what we love about ourselves. Love and respect yourself enough to schedule time dedicated to You. You deserve it and your sanity relies on it.