OK, so this is my fourth day working and taking care of my bonus daughters alone while my hubby is on a trip. You might already know that a few months ago, I married the most supportive, thoughtful, generous man who is an amazing dad – and let me tell you, Jeff’s entire family is the icing on the cake of our marriage. I don’t call them my “in-laws,” but my “in-loves.” I have always felt like a mom at heart, so I am especially blessed by the bonus of his two energetic little girls – who are in first and third grades.
With Jeff out of town this week, I am gaining a new (albeit brief) perspective on parenting alone. Let me just say, I always respected single parents, but I’ve gained a whole new level of empathy and respect. It is going great, but whew, it is nonstop! Squeezing in all my work between 8:30 – 2:15, homework, dinner, extracurricular activities, bath time, all those darn papers they send home to read and sign, bedtime stories, getting them successfully off to school – well fed, lunches packed, backpacks in tow, appropriately clothed with shoes (how did you lose your shoes again? … I love it, but I’m in awe of anyone who successfully does it with a full-time, non-flexible job. So, if you are a single parent: I salute you. I’m praying for you. You are amazing!
In my latest book Happy Women Live Better, I cite a study that explains married women without children report the highest levels of happiness, followed by single women with no kids, married women with children and last, but certainly not least, single mothers. Having all the household responsibilities and those young lives on your shoulders surely contributes to the stress and overload that many single moms feel. I’d like to just share from the Personalized Action Plans in the resource section of Happy Women Live Better. Some of these tips are helpful for everyone, but they are especially relevant to single moms to help boost your joy. One of my favorite quotes from the book of Nehemiah says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” and indeed research supports that. Positive emotion actually expands your ability to deal with adversity and stress. So in the midst of taking care of everyone else, don’t forget to take care of you by embracing joy along your very busy journey. Here you go, from page 213 of the book:
- If at all possible, live near family or close friends. Place a high value on your support system. This means think twice before moving somewhere you don’t have a network.
- Accept and tell the truth to your children. Don’t belittle your ex, but also don’t make excuses for him if he is not involved. Speak the truth in love and support your children as they learn to handle the truth.
- Do your best, and accept that you can only be a mom, not mom and dad. Seek trusted male role models to provide a fatherly influence if the father is not involved.
- Take regular breaks. If you can afford a sitter, get one and give yourself a weekly rest. Or trade with another mom or family member.
- When others offer to help, accept their offer! And if they don’t ask and you need help, ask.
- Have a “play date” with your kids once a week. Let them pick the activity. Lighten up, laugh and have a ball!
- When you tuck your children in to bed, start a gratitude conversation with them: What were the three best things about today?
If you’re not a single parent, pass this on to the single parents and guardians in your life.
Discover your personal happiness triggers for FREE at www.happywomantest.com. Join the happiness movement and talk more about this topic with other women using my FREE girlfriends’ gab guide at www.valorieburton.com/girlfriends.