Single parenting is hard. Step-parenting is hard. Parenting is hard. There’s nothing easy about this process no matter which stage you might be in. That being said, I want to focus today on single parenting because it is a different breed all together.
I remember those times, the times my kids were sick and I needed someone to run to the store to get the medicine but no one was there. I remember needing to work but my kids needed me more so, I put the computer away only to have double the work waiting for me the next day. I remember making decent money but still worried I would not be able to pay the bills. Single parenting is hard.
I wanted to share with you today some of the things that helped me keep my sanity as a single parent and hopefully, they will help some of you walking that same road right now.
- Let Go of Perfection: I am a perfectionist, this one hits me to the core. But, during my single parent days, the house was a little messier, sometimes the dishes had to be left in the sink, sometimes dinner came in the form of a drive thru. These are things you have to let go of a bit for awhile and determine what is important.
- Get alone: Make time for yourself even if it is only for an hour after the kids are in bed. Breathe, read the bible, pray and cry. Yes, cry and cry often. You’re in a painful position likely still dealing with the aftermath of whatever situation you just survived, it’s ok to cry. Do this alone though, your child is not your therapist or your lawyer, find a safe place to cry by yourself or with a real therapist.
- Redefine Happiness: Do not let other people be in charge of your happiness, that is not their job, that is your job. Redefine happiness, grasp joy deep inside. Do not let yourself be distracted by the things of this world or the people in it, breathe in deep the joy of Christ.
- Steer Clear of Dating Disasters: This is huge. My friends, look for the red flags, listen to the Holy Spirit and remember, your children may not be ready to accept the fact you are dating or serious about someone else. Move slowly, listen to your children and do what is best for your family.
- Create Structure: Kids crave structure and most adults do as well. Clearly define household rules, expectations and write it down. After you write it down, post it for the kids to see so you can always reference back to it. Set up play stations in your house and clearly define them for example, video games are played here, legos over there, etc. Then, put the kids on a rotating schedule so each gets equal play time. This will keep the chaos to a minimum in your home.
- Give Yourself a Break: It’s ok if dinner wasn’t homemade tonight, it’s alright if the laundry is bigger than expected. Don’t beat yourself up over the small things, eventually the laundry will get done and one day, you’ll have time to make meals at home.
- Re-evaluate Your Inner Circle: Now is the time to make sure the people around you are building you up and not tearing you down. Are your friends supportive? Are they real friends or do they just want the latest gossip in your ongoing drama? That’s a big deal. It’s almost better to have no friends than to have friends that are only using you for information or giving you advice contrary to the Word of God.
- Unfollow and Unplug: If you deal with parenting guilt because of all those perfect children being showcased on Facebook, then stop using Facebook. Yes, it can be done. Breathe deep, let God into your situation and let the wrong people out both in real life and social media. This means, give up on stalking your ex too. Not worth your time or your peace. Block and move on.
- Get a Project: One of the things that got me through the divorce process was my mom and I completely remodeled my house. We repainted everything, changed up the pictures and started again. This kept me busy on the weekends I did not have my kids and it gave me something new to think about plus, paint is not a huge expense so it was affordable therapy.
- Enlist the Kids: If they’re old enough to get snack from the pantry, they’re old enough to grab a broom too. Get help and involve your kids in making the house run. Assigning chores is one of the best things I have ever done, it also helps with the “entitlement” thing so many kids are dealing with right now.
It’s not easy, nothing is easy here. But, throw yourself into God and take a deep breath. You got this.