Single Parents: Tips for Surviving the Stress…and Beyond

Single Parents: Tips for Surviving the Stress…and Beyond

Being a single parent is tough. You have too much responsibility; too many tasks; too many demands; not enough time; not enough sleep; not enough energy; not enough patience; and almost always–not enough money.

However, even when you have faded, and your checkbook has fizzled, you can survive and thrive as a single parent. By using the following five effective strategies, you can find strength in yourself as a person, and can find joy in your life as a single parent.

Learn to manage stress.

Single parents have over-the-top stress. However, by using the ABC’s of stress management, you can learn to cope better. Stress management know-how may be the most important resource a single parent can have. The ABC’s of stress are simple, and practicing two special tips puts them to work.

A: Awareness and Action—Recognize, acknowledge, and accept the stressors in your single parent life. Identify your options for dealing with the stressors, and take correct action.

B: Beliefs—Your beliefs will either raise or reduce your stress. What you tell yourself about your kids, your life, and your Self constitutes your belief system. Once you become aware of what you are thinking, you can choose the way you think. You can decide to change negative thoughts and beliefs in order to lower your level of stress.

C: Choices and Consequences—Choosing well means thinking wisely, and taking effective action. Every choice results in a consequence. Choices based on anger, victim thinking, or blaming, may have consequences that feel good in the short run, but may not necessarily bring long lasting solutions. Think through situations carefully, and choose the options you think may have the best outcomes for you and your kids

Learn to access the insight in your intuitive mind.

When you use the power of inner knowing along with your rational/logical mind, you have a winning combination that will help you practice the ABC’s of stress, and you will be less likely to feel guilty for what you cannot control, or blame others for your problems. Intuitive insight can help you accept the reality of the hurts you feel, and turn your attention to what uplifts your spirit, such as love for children, service to others, and the acceptance that no hardship can rob you of your worth as a person.

Guilt is its own brand of poison. Guilty people are also playing a kind of blame game—blaming the Self! Guilt can be just as harmful to your wellbeing as blaming others. Guilt can keep you going around in circles of emotional suffering. The secret to giving up guilt is to take responsibility for your own life.Then proceed to act effectively and resolutely on behalf of yourself and your children. When you use intuitive wisdom to work toward realistic solutions–you will have fewer reasons to blame others or to feel guilty. You will have more control over your emotions—and your life.

Cultivate Resilience.

Single parents have more than their share of adversity. Resilient people know how to bounce back from adversity, land on their feet and keep going. This may sound unrealistic on a night when the kids are sick and you are pooped out, but resilience can be developed. Your mind set is the key to resilience. Stay away from the trap of “poor me!” thinking, “why me?” thinking, and the prison of thinking you have it the worst. When you get tangled in the net of negativity, you will have less energy to face your problems and dilemmas. Acknowledge the reality that life has challenges, and keep a mind-set that affirms your ability to cope, your basic Self worth, and your determination to use the ABC’s of managing stress.

Rally Supports.

Single parents need all the help they can get. Find networks of other parents. Form alliances with the children’s schools. Join single parent groups on line. Join support groups of parents at hospitals, counseling agencies, and/or churches. Draw on the resources available in your faith community. Take and use whatever support and help family members might offer. Refrain from thinking that you have to do this hard job alone. Letting others help can be a gift you give them. With networks of support you can trade childcare, outgrown clothes, low-cost recipes, tips for managing kids’ behavior, and as needed, you can find a trusted shoulder to cry on.

Be Nice to yourself.

Single parenting is loaded with sacrifice. Find the balance between putting yourself first and sacrificing for the children. Even if it is for minutes, carve out time to do what you enjoy. Try to see beyond the problems to the successes—the children’s and your own. Derive pride from your accomplishments as a parent, even though some days the accomplishment may be just making it through. Guess what? That counts! Affirm you intrinsic self worth as a person, and give yourself credit for surviving and thriving as you do the hardest job on the planet!

 

About the Author:

Bette J. Freedson is a clinical social worker, practicing in Southern Maine. She is also the author of many articles. Bette’s first book, “Soul Mothers’ Wisdom/Seven Insights for the Single Mother,” is available at Pearlsong Press.

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