10 Steps for Keeping Your Sanity as a Single Parent
Let me just tell you, being a single parent is not easy. I’m sure you’ve heard it, I heard it. I even spoke at a “single mom’s conference” once but I’ll be the first to tell you, I had no idea what I was talking about. I’ve been a single parent for almost 2 years now and I’ll admit, the beginning was rough. First, you have to get used to all the “things” that come with divorce then you have to get used to a new kind of normal.
This past year has brought major changes for our little family, I bought my business back so now, I run this 100% of the time which means I have to be very aware of my schedule and how much time I spend doing it. We went from a full staff to a staff of 1 (me) and now 2 (I was finally able to bring back Jessica-WOOHOO). We also moved which is just plain difficult in and of itself (that does remind me, I have a house for sale if you’d like to buy it)….shameless plug.
All that to say, a lot has gone on and a lot will go on, that’s life. But, there are things you can do to help maintain your sanity and travel along the sometimes rough and unpredictable single parent waters. So, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped.
10 Steps for Keeping Your Sanity as a Single Parent
1. Find Time Alone:
This is a big deal, even if it doesn’t happen until you put the kids to bed at night. I’ve had to stop myself from habitually cleaning the house after the kids go to bed and make myself sit down and read and pray. There has to be time for you, I know you’ve heard that before, I didn’t find out how true that was until I got sick then I was forced to take some time for me. If you have a chance during the day, great, if not, look for a chance at night. Get your thoughts together and settle down to pray. Running around in a panic all the time will not help anyone.
2. Eat Right:
I’m serious. Don’t dismiss this one as a “yada, yada, yada” statement. You have to be healthy to take care of your children and if you are feeding yourself drive thru burgers and fries every night then your body will not function the way it was designed to function. If you’re a single parent, your stress level is probably through the roof and adding bad dietary habits to that will only make it worse. I promise, I did it. It cost me thousands of dollars in medical bills. Not worth it.
I’ve become an expert at this one. I used to stay up all night working, I would literally be up at 3am working. I would fix code that no one would ever see, rewrite articles over and over again until I thought they were perfect then I would trade out pictures on posts that I didn’t like for whatever stupid reason. I worked myself into the ground. Why? A lot was expected of me during that time and I didn’t know how to say “no” to the right people. That’s not a problem I have anymore. If you don’t get enough sleep you end up cranky, irritable and just plain rude, people don’t like that, your kids don’t like that. Turn it off and get enough sleep.
That might mean that you have to tell someone “no” every once in awhile. I regret not doing that much earlier, I set the bar high and quite honestly, I’m the one who set that bar up there so really, there is no one to blame but myself. I could have said “no” but I didn’t want to let anyone down. Funny thing, everyone else says “no” so I think it’s ok.
4. Jam. It. Out.:
Turn up the volume and just plain rock. It’s not about how old or young you are, it’s about stress relief. I do this with praise and worship music a lot but I’ll be honest with you, I do it WAY more often with hip hop music than anything else. I have a pretty decent obsession with TobyMac so he’s my go-to. Yes, I do this in my car on occasion but more often than not, I do it at home. If you knock on my door and hear a party going on, no worries, it’s just me jamming the stress right out.
5. Get Off the Internets:
Shut it off. Unplug and walk away. Don’t lose yourself in online posts and social media. I know that’s a lot for me to say, most of my job is on social media in fact, I help small businesses grow their social media presence. That’s what I do and that pays the bills. But, personally, you have to walk away. We can get lost in the pictures of other people’s families and that’s hard to see sometimes as a single parent.
Get off social media for awhile and take a break or retrain yourself to only look at it a few minutes a day. If it’s making you feel worse, you don’t need it!
6. Let Yourself Cry:
I know this is weird. If you’re a single parent, you are likely trying to be as tough as humanly possible and sometimes you need to cry. I’m not saying in front of the kids, get in the shower or something. But, let yourself cry every once in a while. Put yourself before God and cry at his feet, he knows you’re hurting and he knows how hard this really is, be free to cry.
Yes, it’s cliche but it’s a MUST. Get outdoors and let the stress out of your body by running, walking, biking or something. The stress has to come out of your body and if you don’t release it in a healthy way, it will come out in a non-healthy way through sickness physically, mentally or both. I’ve been there and done that. I learned the hard way that I need to exercise and eat healthy, now it is not an option. If I’m going to be here for my kids, I have to be healthy and so do you.
8. Keep a Tight Crew:
Make sure your circle of friends are the kind you can really trust. You don’t need a bunch of girls to gossip with, you need people who can encourage you and lift you up at the worst of times and gossip girls won’t do that.
I had to do a total friend overhaul, get rid of the awkwardness of people who were friends with both sides and those who were simply curious about our situation and didn’t want to really help at all. I don’t have time for that, I have kids to raise and a business to run, I need real friends and you know what? I can count my real friends on one hand.
Believe me when I tell you, you do not need 2,000 facebook friends to make you feel better. That’s the last thing you truly need. Pray that God will show you the true friends you need that you can trust during the good and the bad, it’s quality not quantity.
9. Get Help:
I’ll be the first to tell you, I’ve been in counseling for two years. Yes, I’m on a life long plan and that’s ok. I’m good with that. I’ve been through a lot and I can’t do it alone. Trying to do it alone does not make you a strong person, there’s nothing to prove here and even the strongest of people have help.
You need someone to talk to that doesn’t know everything about everyone, etc so you can get unbiased advice. Ask your church if there is counseling available, many do offer it for free. If you do have to pay, it is worth the investment though, I promise.
10. Let It Go:
If it doesn’t require a lawyer, let it go. Seriously, the stress isn’t worth it. You can sing the song too if that helps. 🙂
There’s nothing about this journey that is easy but you know what, that’s life, it isn’t easy that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You got this. I got this. And, it’s all going to be ok. Take a deep breath and enjoy those kids, don’t let them feel the panic and the pain, they need to feel the love.