I was thinking about our subject for this month’s blog and what came to mind is how hard it is to stay connected to other’s and yourself in a meaningful way when you are busy, as most of us are. If you are a “single parent” human person, YOU ARE BUSY!! You may be forced, through circumstance to be the only “bread-winner”/”caregiver” for yourself and your child(ren) or you may have sentenced yourself to such an existence by means of guilt, resignation or a sense of determination to “show everyone, including yourself, that you CAN DO IT!”. The challenges of attempting to fulfill every need that arises can be downright draining and you may find yourself drowning in a sea of “overwhelming”.
What can be done? I found some worthy suggestions in a blog post called “Single Parents: Ask For Help” written by Susan Stiffelman, Family Therapist and Author. I hope that you find these helpful. First off, the title gives us the best advice for any human being, “ask for help”. I was taught, a long time ago, from some very wise mentors, that to refrain from allowing others to help me, was to deprive others of the joy of giving. It took me awhile to learn, but eventually I got it. Here are her suggestions, followed by my commentary:
- Find a tribe
- Bring in the aunties and the uncles
- Take mental health days
- Don’t make your child your partner
- Just do your best!
If you are not now, then put yourself, in a position to meet others who have children around the same age as your own. You can get together for play dates (even if the little ones are infants, the adults can share some adult conversation and laughter). Once you feel that you can trust these other parents, you can do some childcare swapping for errands or a little “me time”. These “others” can be found wherever adults with children are found, including such places as your neighborhood, the grocery store, your place of worship, or the childcare room at your local gym. There may even be a parent meet-up or support group in your area. I am sure you can think of other venues, as well.
Many of us have a favorite aunt, uncle, neighbor or adult friend of the family. You know the one! It can be of great benefit to your child(ren) to develop healthy relationships with safe and trustworthy adults, other than you. There are so many things they can offer your child(ren) including a listening ear, another perspective, a love for a favorite hobby or a particular skill you may not possess. You might be surprised at those who are willing and able to give step into that role-You may just need to ask!
“Me time” is not a selfish act, unless overdone, of course! It is important to take time to refresh oneself when the demands are many, as mentioned previously. A nap, a movie, a soak in the tub, a workout at the gym, a coffee and your ear buds at the local coffee bar, dinner or lunch with a friend or whatever “refreshes” you. Both you and your child will benefit. Ask a member of “your tribe” to watch your little one(s) and you can give back in whatever way fits. It is a win-win-win situation!
As a stressed out, overburdened single-parent-person, it is easy to put your child in the role of confidante. After all, as the children grow, it is natural to form a “partnership” with them as they are with you at all the times you would normally be talking to a “spouse”. It isn’t fair to place them in the position of “early adulthood”. They shouldn’t have to shoulder the burdens of finances, your work or social frustrations, or a “flaky” other parent. Be sure to develop and maintain a safe, healthy adult relationship, where you can share all of those concerns.
Just do your best! No one is perfect. (Sorry to be the one to tell you.) You are still finding your way and you will make mistakes. You will not always be as loving and as patient as you would like, nor will you always be able to do everything for your child that you would like to do. When you fall short of your own expectations and speak or act in a way that is less-than-perfect, it is a praiseworthy thing to apologize to your child for your wrong behavior, attitude, or action. It is a wonderful way to model this desirable trait for your child(ren).
“Stay Afloat” by asking others for help. Everyone, including you, will be glad you did!