Learning to date. Finding happiness again. Facing new challenges alone. All three of these issues are relevant in the lives of a single parent. Throw in the issue of dating and there is a great possibility that you may find yourself overwhelmed.
I was a single parent for many years before getting married and 3 months later becoming widowed. I was then a single parent again for the next 6 years before marrying my current husband. I will tell you that being a single mother was one of the hardest experiences I have ever faced, but it was also one of the most rewarding. It was during those years that I found myself. It was during those trials and turbulent times that I found that I had a deep inner strength that I didn’t know I had. It was during that time that I became aware of what I truly was capable of. Many single parents, I am sure, have felt or feel now the way I did. There may be many of you right now reading this post who feel as if your journey is just beginning and you are re-learning who you really are. With that, I wanted to share with you some of the challenges you may face but also give you some solutions as you go through them:
Learn to re-train your individuality outside of parenthood
One of the mistakes we make as single parents is allowing the act of “parenting” to consume or rule our whole lives. Most single parents, including myself, have in the past or are currently making this mistake. For the record, to me, this is the single most difficult hurdle to overcome. It is ingrained in our minds and in our upbringings to put our children before ourselves. If we don’t, we are considered “neglectful.” However, I learned a long time ago that not taking care of my own physical and emotional well-being, FIRST, made it almost impossible to properly take care of or attend to my children’s needs. It is crucial to pay attention to our needs as parents but also to our needs as individuals.
Becoming dependent on your children for your own happiness
Unfortunately, during times of our own crisis as parents, we tend to reverse our roles as parents and turn to our children completely for our happiness. Our children naturally bring us happiness but forcing our problems and issues upon them and making them feel responsible for making us happy is not just unfair to them but also not in their best interest.
Everyone needs to take a mental health day, including parents. Don’t feel guilty about having a babysitter come in for the day (if it is feasible to your budget) so that you can enjoy a little of your own therapy time. Whether that therapy be getting a manicure and pedicure, shopping for the day, or just a trip to the park to read a good book, it is very important to find what makes us happy and create our own blueprints in our lives. In order to make our children happy, we have to be individually happy as well.
Most people assume that single parents need to be multi-taskers all of the time. Well, I disagree. Sometimes, we need to be single-taskers. There will be times when you can’t “be all and do all” for everyone. This does not make you an inadequate or bad parent. It makes you human. Research has also shown that multi-tasking can actually be counter-productive. It doesn’t allow you to really focus properly on what you are trying to accomplish. Take each day, one day at a time, and do your best.
Being a single parent is tough. Sometimes, it can even be cruel. However if you remember to follow your own blueprints, your journey will be filled with some of the greatest memories and rewards you can imagine.
Peace & Blessings,