You are a single mom and that makes you all the more strong and beautiful! But, I know it is quite difficult to be ‘one’ at times. You want to be there for your kiddo all along and at the same time you need to work hard to be financially strong. However, there are times when you try to smile but you are not able to, try to be strong but are breaking down inside, try to be serene but are going bonkers, right!!!
I tell you something, it’s okay to go crazy at times and cry out your heart. I do that and I feel instantly good. If you are newly single or have recently adopted a baby and are looking for some ideas on how to put up a great show, I have some suggestions here.
It’s a Team work
Team work works. And this is especially true when it comes to bringing up kids. I was brought up as an independent lady. My parents taught me never to ask favors of anyone. If you are one such lady, then it is time to change rules, just like I did. It is quite tough to manage babies alone. If you think that you are getting bored with the same kid, even the kids think the same, I suppose. Both you and your kid need a change. It is okay to ask for help. Initially even I was hesitant to ask for help. But, now I shamelessly ask for some if things are not going right. You can build a support group of people that you trust upon. Once in a while, you can ask your friends to take care of the baby while you take a break. You need not finish up chores in this break, but you might go for a walk, read a book, go on a date or just catch some sleep.
For building a support group, ask your close friends, neighbors, your parents or the parents of your kid’s friend/s. This support group should be such that they understand your situation, what you are going through and are there to bring a smile on your face or at least on your kids face. Your kid should like being with them. It is okay that this support group might give in to your kid’s irrational demands, every once in a while. Team work will ensure that your kid gets a wholesome upbringing. Not only you get some me-time but also your kid gets to learn how to adjust with other people other than you. Your kid learns to be independent and also exposed to important traits by spending time with other people.
It’s All About Scheduling
And even letting go off the schedule at times! Learn to balance and also learn to let it go at times. However, when it comes to managing multiple things together, scheduling is the best bet. You need to plan ahead so that you are not caught off guard. Plus, when every little thing is scheduled, you get time to tackle some problems that appear at the eleventh hour.
If your kid is managed by you and your friends and family, you can put online calendar to work in such situations. Have multiple calendars, one that is for your own self and others for your friends who will manage your child. Let even others add events or make changes. Prepare a calendar for the upcoming week and share it with others. This way, you can plan ahead and keep your sanity intact. Online calendars are quite easy. They can be viewed on the go and helps in multiple ways.
It’s Alright to Do Everything Single Handedly
Accept that you are a single mother. Acceptance will help you cope. When your relationship fell off or when you decided to adopt a baby, you knew the hardships of bringing up the kid. So, when you see your friends depending on their spouses for help, you need not feel guilty, but you should feel strong that you are an independent mother. So, it is you who needs to drop the kid to school, it is you who needs to pay the electricity bill and it is you again who needs to put off the kiddo to bed while reading, ‘three little pigs’.
The adverse phase that you are going through is only going to make you skillful and stronger. You can even share your skills with other single moms, who can teach something to you in return. While fixing that leaking tap, you will learn a trick that can turn out useful in a similar situation. However, if fixing a tap is out of your interest or ability, you can call for help. Here’s a caution though – you cannot be good at everything. So, if the fixed tap leaked again, do not worry. You are not a plumber for God’s sake… it is alright and things can go wrong at times.
It’s All About Prioritizing
This Sunday, I took my kiddo to the park as she was adamant to go there. There I saw a mom with her toddler. They were whiling away their time in all the glory. They made a happy sight. We went there and sat with her. I asked her whether all her household chores were done. She denied saying, “it’s a Sunday and so, I wanted to be there for my son, being a single mother, I do not get much time with him.”
I was surprised and ashamed as well. The lady had her priorities set. She wanted to spend time with her son, no matter what. It is okay that the kitchen is messed up. What is important at that moment is – quality time with child. We often forget what is important after becoming a mother. The most important thing is the upbringing of the baby. The first priority is to make the baby feel safe and secure. I was a clean freak lady but after becoming a mom I found it quite difficult to manage my writing assignments, keep the home clean and also look after the baby. While some crazy ladies even suggested to let the baby be and concentrate on other two important things. However, I set my priorities right. First is the baby, then is the family and health, third is my job and fourth is ‘an arranged home’.
With babies, how much ever you arrange your home it is going to get untidy again. I read an article somewhere – it said that cleaning is an unending activity. Instead of focusing on cleaning, fulfill your wishes of going out and having fun. Yes, you should keep your home and belongings clean but you should primarily focus on achieving the goal of your life.
It’s Taking Care of Your Happiness
Yes, your happiness lies in your baby and even in the appraisal that is due next month. However, happiness is not just about others, happiness is also about your own self. Learn to find happiness in things that are for you, for your body and for your health and beauty as well. If you are ignoring all this in the packed schedule of yours, then you will feel disgruntled in long run.
Every day, you need to do at least one thing that makes you happy. If you like reading, begin a book. Read at least one page each day to keep your hobby intact. Apart from this, grooming is quite essential. You need to be a smart role model for your baby. Look good. Get appointment for beauty and grooming. You should also eat healthy and exercise every day to inspire your baby. In all this, do not forget to keep in touch with your friends and family. All these things make you feel good and this reflects on your kiddo as well.
It’s Time to Manage Finances
Now, you are the primary earner of the family. So, you should set certain rules for the family. Frugal living is not bad at all. It builds character after all. You need not assert all about finances and limited funds to your baby. You need not tell him or her that you are very poor. In fact, you need to teach your baby how to manage finances in a better way. When your baby asks for something, you need not tell him that you are low on cash; you can always say that we do not need this thing, this month. This thing is scheduled in the purchases of next month. If you are not able to go out to a restaurant, you can always come up with better ideas. Arrange barbecue outing with your baby, come up with pot luck ideas with friends, cook something together with your baby or whatever creative you can think of.
When your kid is old enough to understand, make him learn about the value of money. You need not hide your financial situation but you also need not crib about low finances every time. You should be a team in managing finances and yet living a life that you always wanted to. This way, you and your kid can bond in a better manner.
It’s Healthy to Seek Emotional Support
While it is good to confide in your baby for emotional support, it is not okay to make this a habit. Your kid will not be able to digest more than one thing at a time. Further, it is also not healthy for his emotional development. Instead of making your kid your confidante, find a support outside. Your kid might be a shoulder to cry upon occasionally, but do not make this a regular affair. You can let down your guards in front of your kids, but generally you should be a strong person in whom the kids can confide. You need not burden your kid with your fears and emotions. This will only make him insecure.
I have seen many single moms who have made their children their best friends. Some moms even portray the dads in bad light. While this might give moms some solace, this is not good for kids. The kid will not learn to handle relationships and might even fear getting into one when he or she is older. Hence, it is necessary for single moms to find friends outside their immediate family and try to get adequate support and advice. Make good friends and you need not crib about the situations every time, even to your friends. When you meet your friend, forget everything else and have some good time. This will benefit you emotionally.
It’s Good to Spend Quality Time
I remember interviewing one of my friends regarding motherhood. She revealed that when she was young, her mother used to work to make ends meet. She was not available for her in the afternoon just like the moms of her other friends did. My friend always desired to have lunch with her mom. I do not know how her mother felt at that time. I think even she would have felt bad for not spending enough time with her daughter. She might have compensated by not missing a single dinner with her daughter, without even revealing this to her. As a single mom, you should stop fighting for spending good number of hours with your kid. Instead you should focus on spending good and quality time with your kid. There would be days, when you get to spend just fifteen minutes with your baby. Make sure that these moments are the best for your kid.
Suppose, playing blocks with your toddler amounts to spending quality time, according to you. Opposed to this, for your toddler, quality time with mother is coloring a book. Did you notice the difference? While playing blocks takes at least half an hour, coloring just takes half the time. And the latter makes your toddler happier too. Hence, you need to spend quality time in the manner your kid wants to. While playing blocks, he might learn a trait (which could be learnt at a later stage also), but with coloring your kid makes happy memories, which is all the more important for a good upbringing. And when you are with your baby, do not mind turning your phone down. Talk with your baby, try to establish connect, indulge in activities, sing songs and do not forget to make lots of eye contact – kids want that, really.
It’s Not Okay to Feel Guilty
You are a single mom and a living inspiration for your baby. Never ever feel guilty about doing things in a certain way. This is because guilt will make you do things that will be conflicting to the rules of your upbringing. For instance, you were not able to show up for parents’ day. Now, to compensate for it, you will let your child indulge in an ice cream scoop during the week. You think that your child will forgive you for not attending parents’ day. However, your child might forgive you now, but he will eventually come to understand the relation between ice cream and your presence at his important events. Do not let guilt override your emotions and rational behavior. When you make your kid understand about your priorities and commitments, your kid will not make irrational demands. And when you do not show up for one out of three parents’ meetings, it will be okay for him as well. Try to build mutual understanding.
If you are there for your baby, even he or she will recognize and appreciate your efforts. Even when you are not available for your teenage daughter for the entire day, make sure that you spend at least fifteen minutes with her before retiring to bed. Talk to her and tell her about your day and ask her about her day as well.
In the End, It’s Alright to Let it Go
Holding on to anger or a bad past or things that went awry in your relationship is only going to harm you and your kid. Instead focus on what you can do to bring up your kid in a happy and loving environment. When I say ‘let go’, I also mean to let your guard off at times. You might be a strong and disciplined mother but it is okay to reveal the kinks in the armor at times. If for the entire week you had a hearty dinner, it is okay to have instant noodles on Sunday to spend quality time with your kid rather than cooking. It is okay that your house is not cleaned even when your friends are arriving for dinner. Spending good time with your friends is important. For your friends, your time and happiness is important rather than cleanliness.
Remember, You Are Not Just a Single Mom
You are a parent, you are a source of joy, you are every little thing for your kid. Be there for your baby in times when she needs you. Always focus on happiness and good things in your life rather than the things that you do not have or cannot provide to your family. I wish you strength and happiness all your life! You, woman – You are the iron lady of the family.