I was so shocked that I had become a single mom!
It wasn’t supposed to be this way; I was not supposed to be left alone to raise my boys as a single parent. This left me bewildered, scared, and overwhelmed. Not to mention completely unprepared for this job. I adored my sons and wanted the absolute best for them. I definitely wanted the Mom part; it was the other part I didn’t want and did not sign up for. But when Ron went to prison, I was thrust into this new world with this new label. I needed tips for single moms.
Being a single parent is a lot of work. It is full of crazy, chaotic moments that turn into the most rewarding days imaginable. Single parents learn that every day is a marathon. Being a single mom is like running that marathon carrying a kid under each arm, your purse slung across your body, in heels and nylons, while trying to put your make-up on as you go so you can look decent before you hit the finish line. It is not that you can’t finish the race, or win the race, it is just way harder. If you have never actually experienced it, you cannot imagine how hard it is to raise children alone (read my single parenting tips).
Here are some of the harsh realities of being a single mom:
- Everything is expensive.
- No one, but you, is going to show up.
- There is never enough time.
- It really is a catastrophe when your car breaks down.
- If your husband is in prison, there is no child support check coming.
- Even if the father of your children is not in prison, there might not be any child support coming.
So what do we do with all of this?
We crush it one day at a time! There will be days that all you feel is overwhelmed. You fall into bed at night and your house is still a mess, the checkbook isn’t balanced, and you don’t know how you will make it through the next day. But then the sun comes up, and you wake up to little chubby arms wrapped around your neck, and suddenly, it isn’t so hard. So, you get up and keep moving forward.
Those 15 years as a single mom were tough and beautiful all at once. Beautiful because I loved my boys fiercely, and we finished the race together. If you are still in the race of single parenthood…
Do these five things to keep your focus and your sanity:
- Practice gratefulness in your house. For every disappointment or difficult chore, think of 3 things you are grateful for. Make sure you do this out loud and encourage your kids to do the same thing (read my story on gratefulness).
- Take some time for you. Self-care is super important when you are the one and only in your kids’ lives. Take a break! Find a neighbor, friend, or relative you can trust with your kids for just a couple of hours a week and do something you enjoy. Read a book, take a long bath, go shopping alone, or visit another grown-up. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable leaving your kids with, put them to bed early at least once a week and enjoy a couple of hours alone.
- Find a mentor. Find someone you look up to and connect with them. Ask them to mentor you so you have someone to bounce ideas off and consult for advice when you are at your wit’s end. Remember that connecting to other moms who are married will also help you keep your focus. By watching how they interact and make decisions, you can gain insights that will help you make the best decisions for your children as well.
- Count to 10 before you speak when you are frustrated. This is a great one, because your words will live forever in your kids’ hearts. Slow down and think before you speak into their lives.
- Reward yourself. No matter how small, celebrate your accomplishments along the way with a reward. It can be a candy bar you don’t have to share, a movie you watch without the kids, or an evening out.
I know this is not what you would have chosen, but you are up for this challenge. Enjoy the moments as you work hard to create a better future for yourself and your children. The joy is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.
I am rooting for you!
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