Happy Belated New Year, everyone! This is my first blog post, but it is something that I have wanted to launch for many years. My life has changed immensely over the past six months and I feel that sharing some of the lessons that I have learnt may help others. Therefore, I thought I would share 10 things that I have learnt since becoming a single mother.
In September 2017, I became a single mother to a six month old baby and a three-year-old toddler, both boys. Did I ever imagine this is how my life would turn out, Hell no! I always envisioned getting married first (which I did not), a big family house (I own a small starter home) and then children.
Adjustment , acceptance and alcohol are the words that came to mind as I look back. It has been difficult to find information regarding the things that were available to me as a single mother on maternity leave after losing my co-parent and part of my household income. I hope this list can provide a bit of support to anyone else who may be experiencing similar circumstances or that it will just be an interesting read for someone searching the world wide web for something to do.
1. Do not feel guilty
I felt a lot of this at various stages after the breakdown of my relationship. Feeling that that I had reduced the chances of my children growing up successfully, as our household no longer consisted of a mother and a father. Feeling that the breakdown in our relationship was my fault. It took a long time for me to accept that my children would be fine as long as I remained consistent and stable. I also had to keep reminding myself that I have no control over the choices that others make – only of how I react to the circumstances created by those choices.
2. Find your village
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It was my village that helped me deal with my guilt and enabled me to be a present mother through praise and reassurance. My village consists of family members and friends that I have met during my life journey. I know I can tell them anything and there will be no judgment, they will just be there. They are my cheerleaders, my bodyguards, my cuddle bears, my babysitters, my getaway and my rescuers.
3. Take time for you (and again don’t feel guilty)
After the breakdown of my relationship I was absolutely drained. All those days of crying, lack of sleep coupled with the needs of a six month-old baby and entertaining a three year old had taken their toll. When the break up first occurred my boys were not spending weekends with their Dad, therefore I was looking after the children 24/7 on my own whilst trying to manage emotionally. I knew I needed to refuel. So called on a friend to watch the boys so that I could take an undisturbed bath (your village again). It was just what I needed and it helped immensely. It’s important to take care of yourself, otherwise what state will you be in to care for others. Its important to remember that you’re primary carer for the children and need to be in a good place spiritually, emotionally and physically.
4. Do not be afraid to ask for help (relates to above)
I was exhausted, I could hear myself constantly snapping at my toddler, and I knew I needed time for myself so had to ask for help. My request was well received again for my village. In addition, I also undertook a parenting course called Parentgym at my local children centre. As I would now be undertaking the journey with my boys 80% on my own, I wanted to ensure I had the tools to be the best parent I could be. It was an amazing six weeks journey with a bunch of incredible women, learning techniques that have been life-changing for my parenting style.
5. Re-frame the situation
I listened (still do) to a lot of positive talks, podcast and motivational speakers and it all came down to mindset. Initially, when the relationship ended, all I did was question the breakdown of my relationship and wondered if the emotional pain I was feeling mean t I was making the right decision. But once I re-framed the situation, I saw an opportunity and an accepted challenge, with endless doors. “What can I do to learn from this situation or what can I do to make this situation better?” were my key thoughts going forward.
6. Use MoneySavingExpert to check benefit entitlements
Having never been able to claim anything in the past, I needed to see what kinds of support were available to my household whilst I was on maternity. It was a nightmare trying to find what I could be entitled to and it took months for my claims to be processed. But, searching carefully, I found there is financial support that can at least alleviate the pressure.
7. Stay civil with your ex-partner (if you can)
In most situations there must have been love once, as you would not have created your children. Try to use this mindset as the basis of your relationship with your child’s father and stay civil for the sake of your children. In addition, it is important to never bad talk your ex-partner in front of your children. This will avoid bad feelings sprouting up in the children and stopping the children feeling like they were the cause of the break-up.
8. Allow yourself to feel
It’s OK to feel disappointment, anger, or any other emotion about how the relationship turned out. Just be sure not to wallow in that place, preventing you from being the best mother you can be.
9. Have fun with your children
We can learn a lot from our children about being playful, creative and imaginative. When you’re under stress or feeling a bit low, having fun with your children can alter your mental state immensely. So run, jump, skip and laugh with them – trust me, it will help!
10. Plan the next stage – what’s your vision?
When things have calmed down and you‘re feeling more like yourself, think about what you want for your life. What is your vision for the next 12 months and what small steps can you take to get there? Whatever your circumstances as a single parent, it does not have to define your parenting style or your future. Take 15 minutes to visualise what you want and mentally refer back to that picture when the going gets tough. I have a vision board that I look at each morning with gratitude. Whilst reviewing my board I am thankful for all the life experiences that have led me to these moments; all I have received and all that I will receive. Claim the life you want, it’s yours!!
So what are your tips for adjusting to becoming a single parent? I would love for you to comment below.
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