Work-Life blend as a single parent
It isn’t an easy discipline for anyone to find a smooth cadence in blending work and personal life; no less the single parent. A solo parent juggles the massive honor and the many challenges of parenting alone. Sometimes completely alone, and sometimes with a co-parent. In any case, in addition to being the primary (or only parent), one must also set a pace for their adulting that blends a healthy mix of work and family as a working parent. And in some cases the working parent of the family.
My work at Emerge Mothers Academy is with single mothers so I will speak in that voice while also recognizing that there are single dads juggling all of this as well.
Several years ago, in our work prep group, one of our moms shared with me the strain she was feeling tug at her all day thinking about her daughter all day while at work, only to go home and think about work while trying to do a puzzle with her daughter. We explored this pull, the dual strain that comes in balancing being a parent & employee. What we discovered together was that the moms who felt like they had spent productive, creative, and focused time with their child could more easily go to work and focus on work. And those whose time with their child was hurried, inattentive, and not creative went to work carrying a sense of burden for having not spent the time while together. In that, we set about making a philosophy about balancing parent time and work time. This involves setting up expectations for oneself as a mom to spend quality, focused time with the child when it is parent time so that when parent time is over it is much easier to focus on productive, and quality work time. In the same vein, at work, it becomes easier to focus, be productive, and you feel like the job is well done because one’s mind is not lingering back at home feeling guilty for being half-present. Instead, there is nothing more to think about regarding work or parent time at that moment making it much easier to be an engaged and focused parent on the time with the child.
In short, we hold to a mantra that says “when you feel proud of the time you spent as a parent, it’s easier to close the door on that time and go focus on work; and when you feel proud of the time you spent as an employee it’s easier to close the door on work to go be an engaged parent.”
-Becca Erickson, Emerge Mothers Academy.
Crucial Steps To Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem
Authentic self-esteem comes from self-love. We truly cannot love others if we cannot find a way to first love ourselves. Life is an INSIDE job. We have to look within, clean up from within and find value within ourselves before we can ever see that light in someone else. And when we do, it will shine brighter! Here are 5 tips for boosting your self-esteem while strengthening your self-love.
1. Be mindful of what you expect and accept!
We teach people how to treat us. If we accept abuse, tolerate ridicule, lack compassion for others, are overly critical, are filled with anger, mistreat others or accept mistreatment, we are setting ourselves up for difficult and hurtful relationships both personally and professionally. With improved self-esteem, self-love, and self-understanding we become more tolerant of ourselves. That leads to greater tolerance of others, a quality that deepens our relationships and attracts more love to us.
2. Strive for peace over drama!
I used to live a life filled with drama regarding my relationship’s ups and downs. Fighting and making up, crying and looking for the next exciting event – it took its toll on my life. Now I strive for PEACE. I don’t need excitement or drama to be happy. I find joy in nature, doing what I love, talking with close friends and family, spending time with myself. It’s a much happier and more fulfilling experience for me and my life.
3. Let go of the past – and forgive!
Living in the past is usually painful. It’s filled with disappointments and regrets, neither of which are of value for us. The past is also full of old baggage that needs to be discarded. Too many of us carry old baggage with us into each new relationship, not understanding the damage it does to that relationship. When we forgive ourselves and forgive others who hurt us, we cut the cord that connects us to past pain. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. It doesn’t mean we forget the wrongs. It means we stop letting them hurt and re-wound us over and over again!
4. Catch your self-talk!
We are often our own worst enemy without being aware of it. When we listen to our self-talk we can catch ourselves being overly critical, hurtful, and disrespectful to who we are! We can then self-correct. We’d never talk to another person the way we too often ridicule ourselves with little compassion. Change your self-talk and you can change the outcome of your life. Catch yourself doing things right and give yourself a hug. We don’t have to wait for others to acknowledge us or provide the support we need!
5. Stop comparing yourself with others!
Social media has heightened our ability to compare every facet of our lives with friends and strangers. That becomes a great excuse to put yourself down or feel less valuable than other people in your universe. Stop the madness. You are a unique YOU and not supposed to be a version of someone else. Let go of ridiculous comparisons with those who are wealthier, younger, smarter, thinner, taller, more talented, or successful. Be proud of who you are and what you bring to this world. Focus on that and your life will be more satisfying and fulfilling than you ever imagined!
-Rosalind Sedacca, Child Centered Divorce.
How to reach/maintain financial stability as a single parent?
To reach and maintain financial stability as a single parent it’s important to take full ownership of your financial life and set your intention for financial goals. Wanting and wishing you could make ends meet is not as powerful as setting a goal to increase your income and reducing unnecessary spending. Financial stability looks different from person to person so there is no one size fits all advice. Increasing your income is key to reaching financial stability. Good money management is the key to maintaining financial stability.
-Samantha Gregory, Rich Single Momma.
How to handle your finances while divorcing and taking care of your child?
If you have children, then understanding your financial situation, especially as you become a single parent is vital. With one household now transitioning into two, it is recommended to work with a financial expert in the matters of divorce, like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), to help you draft a realistic post-divorce budget so you know exactly how to plan for your and your children’s care, education, and future.
So, how do you practically deal with the chore of data collection and filing, with children, during the divorce process? The best way is to work without distractions. Perhaps take an hour, when the kids go to bed, to research accounts, collect documents, and/or organize paperwork. To minimize the clutter in an already busy household, much of your documentation can now be retrieved and organized online.
If you’re not sure where to start, or what documents you might need, we recommend downloading your Free Financial Fitness Kit HERE.
-Lisa Decker, Divorce Money Matters.
How to help your child cope with the divorce process?
Divorce can be a highly stressful and emotional experience for parents, very often it feels as if your whole world has been turned upside down, which is especially true for the kids involved. No matter what age they are, watching the dissolution of your family and home can be traumatic. Feelings of shock, uncertainty, confusion, and even anger may arise. Some kids may even feel guilty and blame themselves for what is happening. Divorce, no matter how well-intentioned it is, is never a seamless process and the transition doesn’t have a time limit for when it becomes better. But, there are ways to help your child cope better with the divorce process that can dramatically reduce their pain and ensure that their well-being is your top priority.
Your patience, reassurance, and listening to the can minimize tension as your children learn to cope with unfamiliar circumstances. By providing routines your kids can rely on, you remind them that they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. Making sure that you are catering to your own well-being with self-care, patience and kindness will go a long way to helping you be there for your children. We all know the saying “fit your oxygen mask first”. One way to help you with this is to head to Porch where you can find some great resources designed to lighten the load of moving homes, from checklists to movers, to insurance, and more. Because simplifying your life through the early days of divorce can make a big difference to your well-being, which ultimately makes a big difference to your children’s well-being.
-Wilhelmina Ford, ShareAbode.
How can single parents avoid burnout and be more successful while raising their children?
SUCCESSFUL Single Parenting includes taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family. It is often the first instinct of single parents to neglect themselves in order to focus on their children. This actually creates a reverse effect which is not a great long-term game plan!
Here is our special acronym that explains these tips in a short but special way:
S – Success is unique to YOU and YOUR Family – Don’t get stuck comparing.
U – Understand your family can be fulfilled and whole. You are not “broken” as a single-parent household. 1 in 3 children in the US is being raised in a single-family home and makes up a large part of our population.
C- Commit yourself to enjoy the journey. Prioritize cherishing your children and being a parent. Be fulfilled.
C- Care to live out YOUR DREAMS with your children. If you don’t Dare to Dream, you are actually creating an example of giving up on dreams for them.
E-Expect the unexpected. Educate yourself about available resources and use them readily.
S-Seek Spiritual wholeness, physical fitness, and mental empowerment/encouragement. Build yourself and others UP!
S-Surround yourself with strong, positive, supportive, caring, productive, and kind circles of family and friends.
Single parents should avoid the temptation to over-commit themselves. They need time for their own self-care and interests which can be difficult when they are trying to balance this with parenting alone. Set up a routine that works well for you rather than feeling pressured into doing more or having less downtime in your day/week/month etc.
Trust that you and your children will follow the paths each of you is meant for. Embrace your family’s uniqueness and don’t compare. Hold onto core values like independence, accountability, perseverance, empathy, courage, selflessness, compassion, and understanding.
-Stacie Poythress, Single Parent Advocate.
How to keep kids occupied and productive while working from home?
At Komae, we are huge fans of the digital care break. When we’re working from home with the kids, still very much the reality for many parents, just thirty minutes of safe, occupied time here and there can make the difference between panic and sanity. How do we get it? A little social screentime. It can be a virtual playdate between the kids, online storytime with Grandma, or imagination games with another volunteer parent. Silly filters are especially mesmerizing, but we also try to set up the webcam on a tabletop with figurines, coloring books, and other interactive opportunities. Not sure who to play with? Your Komae friends and groups are great resources, and you can send your need to as many families in your “village” as you like, all at once.
-Erin Beck, Komae.
Most important things to consider in estate planning for a single parent?
The single most important issue to consider in estate planning when you’re a single parent is your kids. But, like anything that has to do with kids, there are a lot of moving parts, meaning numerous decisions to make. Many of those decisions can be outlined in your last will and testament, which is why you should begin your estate planning with this document.
The first issue you need to address in your will is who is going to take care of your children in the event you die. If you’re divorced, that person will be your children’s other parent, even if your will says something to the contrary. If the other parent is fit to raise the children and wants them, their parental rights will be honored by a court if there’s a challenge.
That said, it could still benefit you to name a guardian for your children should the other parent predecease you or you die simultaneously. If you fail to name a guardian and one is needed, the court will appoint one. That choice might not line up with what you would’ve wanted if you had let your intentions be known.
The next issue is to decide who will control your children’s inheritance. To that end, it’s critical to choose both an executor of your will, the person who sees to it that the instructions contained in your will are carried out, and a trustee to oversee any testamentary trust that’s created according to the terms of your will when you die or living trusts you created during your lifetime. The trustee will be in charge of overseeing your children’s inheritance, so make sure it’s someone you can trust.
If you’re unable to manage your finances, and you haven’t appointed someone to do it for you in the event such a situation should occur, the court will have to legally appoint someone to act as your guardian. Again, similar to a guardian for your children, you don’t want to leave a decision as important as this one in the hands of a judge. Their choice won’t necessarily align with yours, and it will certainly increase your family’s stress and legal fees. Speaking to a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney should be your next step toward peace of mind.
-Elise Buie, Elise Buie Family Law Group.
How important is having an organized space as a single parent?
I’m a single mom so I know intimately well how hard it is to journey through parenthood alone. I’ve also helped countless other single moms who have felt overwhelmed with life by showing them how powerful it is to get rid of clutter. It weighs us down in unimaginable ways and once we start releasing it we instantly feel light and better. That’s why we dubbed our signature process Live Lighter, Live Better. By focusing on the things we love, use, and treasure we’re able to let go of things that no longer serve us—making everything in our world easier and better.
-Erin Neumann, Sacred Space Organizing.
As a single parent, what’s the best way to take care of yourself?
As a single parent, it’s important that you give closure to your emotions and incidents that have lead to the rise in those emotions. Try to indulge in something which is satisfying and relaxing. Avoid finding solace in clinging on to any substance. Avoid sharing your innermost emotions with some other person but journal it to let it off you. When u write, it helps you to let go of things. Musical meditation works wonders. Self-care is just not about mediation and spa, get your finances right. De-clutter your house and your wardrobe and your brains (thoughts). Be environmental friendly. Try to know your worth and have faith in yourself.
-Riddhi Doshi, Bonobology.
Vacation ideas to entertain your kids and not overwhelm yourself
Going on vacation with kids can be stressful, especially when you are a single parent doing it all on your own. It can be done, of course, and preparation is the key: Book early because you get the best deals, including early booking discounts and free kids’ places. This way you can also pay in installments and have plenty of time to save up for the little extras. Tackle the boring paperwork as soon as possible if you are going abroad and find some travel toys that will keep the kids entertained during the journey and on vacation. You could make your own travel activity set for each child with crayons, paper, stencils, a new magazine, playdoh, a surprise egg, play figures, and Lego, or buy a ready-made set and a couple of travel games that take up little space but will keep the kids entertained for hours.
If you enjoy the company of other adults on holiday and want to put your feet up and let others organize, you could book a single parent group holiday where you only need to turn up and the rest is organized for you by your Single Parents on Holiday host. There are, of course, many other great options if budget is a concern, such as staycations and road trips where you book an Airbnb near the beach, or a campsite surrounded by woodland. The key is booking early at a price that suits you and doing everything in good time before you go to keep your stress levels at bay.
–Andrea Robinson, Single Parents on Holiday.
There’s more to being a successful single parent than sacrificing your own needs and put your children first so take these tips and try to develop some essential habits to balance your time so that you can enjoy this beautiful journey together.