If you had told me years ago, I'd become a single mother, I'd wouldn’t believe it. Sadly life, love, and parenthood don't always end up the way you'd like. My daughter is now 14 years old, and it is still a daily struggle being a single mother, who works full-time, while finding time to give my daughter the precious memories she deserves.
Something I discovered quickly was that between work, making dinner (or picking up dinner), and then being there for my daughter each day, I basically lost a little bit of myself. I didn't give myself time to mourn the failed relationship, or think about how to heal properly. I was no longer living a moving life, but one on autopilot. I think all parents feel this way in some way or another, but for me especially, who is nowhere near any family, it felt hopeless. Well, that is, until I discovered a few important things that ended up helping me heal, as well as becoming a better parent. Not all heroes wear capes … to me, it’s the parents who grind daily to provide a better life for their child no matter how tired they may be.
#1 Find "Me" Time
Find something that you can do each day or at least each week to de-stress. For me it’s working out or this blog. What I liked about the MEL blog is that my daughter is part of it. She actually takes about 85% of my pictures. Also in this category, I'd definitely say that taking a night out is important. Whether you are going out with friends, out on a date, or just shopping alone ... the only way to get rid of some of that stress we take on is to let out a long breath and do something fun.
#2 Ask for Help
Maybe that sounds easy, but I know that for me (and plenty of other single parents out there) asking for help is incredibly difficult. You suddenly feel like you have something to prove. You feel like asking for help is admitting defeat, but if you keep doing everything on your own, you will get burnt out ... and then you'll feel more defeated than ever. I’m still working on this.
#3 Set Boundaries
Let your work life be your work life and your home life be home. This tip is honestly for anyone, because everyone should leave their work at work. Your children are excited to see you, and if you let your stress of work take over your world, then you aren't really with them.
#4 Just Breathe
Parenthood is a commitment, and sometimes we aren't ready for the challenges that may come with that. The trick to being a good parent though is stepping up and doing what you have to do to give your child an amazing childhood and keeping a roof over their heads.
Sometimes I lose my temper, and sometimes I'm burnt out beyond all reason, but the best thing is that my daughter still is there excitedly to see me when I come home.
Photo Credit: Jeff Zepeda