Here are 10 ways to be in the moment so that you can appreciate the beauty of the family you have, while also appreciating that going it alone can be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
Being a parent is hard, but being a single parent has to be one of the hardest jobs out there. How can you “do it all” while being there for your child?
Some days, it’s all you can do to place one foot in front of the other. Set small goals — getting through the next hour, for example, or making it through a particularly difficult bedtime routine. Shelve tomorrow’s worries and live moment to moment until you’ve gotten through the worst, and then regroup when you have a breather.
Taking (or making) time for yourself as a single mom may sound like a distant dream, but it’s not impossible. Nap and bedtime are the golden standard for “mom time,” but you can use other points of your day for a little “me” time. Paint your nails while your baby plays in her exersaucer, or “hide” in the bathroom with a book while your older child works on homework.
Don’t hesitate to lean on friends or family members for childcare or help. “Along with paid sitters that I can call, I also utilize family, friends and occasionally trade babysitting duty with other moms, when necessary,” said Rachel, single mother of one.
Parenthood, single or not, is often plagued by guilt, but single mamas may feel it worse than others. Feeling guilty is normal, but don’t dwell — for example, if you’re worried about spending too much time working, know that you are building a better life for your child.
Try to not badmouth your child’s other parent. After all, he contributed to half of his DNA and is a legitimate part of your child’s being. Aside from negligence, you should try to remain neutral when discussing his dad.
A social life — and dating — may be last on your agenda, but with creative use of childcare, an active online social network and going out at non-traditional times (such as on your lunch break at work), you can build new friendships and relationships.
Even if you’re not on good terms with your child’s father, keep the lines of communication open. Work with him with scheduling, and keep access to your child’s other family so he can maintain a relationship with his other grandparents and family members.
Take your kids with you instead of fretting about arranging childcare. “I try not to let single parenthood stop me from doing what I otherwise would want to be doing, as it is rare that I cannot just bring my son along,” shared Rachel. “He is almost 4 years old and is used to going places with me, so has become quite adaptable to most situations.”
Take advantage of unique resources available to you. One idea — take your kids to your library’s story hour and sneak in a bit of reading while they are entertained. Find a daycare option with expanded hours so you can study or do housework, like Rachel does. “Because of the extended hours that his school provides, I can use that time before pickup to complete work that I would be too tired to do after his bedtime,” she told us.
For Rachel, single parenthood has allowed her strength to shine through. “At times I feel as though life as a single mother is similar to life with a young baby — the total exhaustion and lack of sleep and never feeling like I have time for myself,” she explained. “But single motherhood has shown me how strong I really am, because even with those obstacles, I still manage to get through most days successfully and keep moving forward.”
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