Single Parents: Less Stress, More Balance, Increased Joy
Is this decidedly not the life you envisioned - being a single parent and trying to do it all by yourself?
Is this the life that you chose - only its way more challenging than you ever imagined it would be?
Whether you have one kid or four of them, it’s common to be so occupied with them and their ever changing needs that it can be difficult to keep your own life moving forward.
It’s a tough place to be in because you love your kids and are grateful for having them as part of your life. You want the best for them. You want to be there for them every step of the way as the unflagging and perfect champion.
When you’re really honest with yourself, you recognize that there’s a part of you that wishes you had a little more space from them (ok- sometimes a lot more space!). Space that would give you some time to breathe, think your own thoughts, untangle the mess that life feels like, and attend to your own needs and dreams.
The lack of mental and emotional space can leave you feeling cranky, tense, and yelling a lot more than you ever thought you would.
The more you yell, the worse you feel, because it’s not who or how you want to be. It’s not surprising if you find yourself thinking back to and wishing for easier times, times before you ever became a parent.
Looking back, you miss the self that used to:
- Take classes, go to lectures, take part in a book club, or cook dinner with friends
- Have time to do nothing other than relax, read book, or chat on the phone
- Go out for a day or night with friends - without feeling guilty!
- Feel like your days were productive and your life was more meaningful
- Be a lot more fun to be around (and were more able to enjoy other people)
While you’re hopeful that you’ll find that self again, deep inside you fear that she or he is long gone - buried under a heap of responsibilities and to do lists.
Being a single parent, everything falls onto your shoulders.
- You’re the only one waking up to deal with a sick kid in the middle of the night.
- You’re the only one butting heads with a frustrated child struggling to get homework done (homework that you can barely understand), while you’re trying to get dinner on the table after a full day of work.
- You’re the one worrying about how to keep everything from going to hell, wondering: “How are we going to come out of this ok?”
When you’re buried under all that there is to do on a daily basis, it’s hard to look around and take in the big picture – to find the solutions to the daily annoyances or to plan long term for the future – which leads to feeling that all of your striving is hopeless.
It can feel like you’re eternally treading water - barely keeping your head above the waterline while everyone else sails by.
You may find yourself feeling:
- Jealous of the family members, friends, co-workers, even celebrities who are married and parenting their children together, seemingly with ease.
- Envious of those who are amicably divorced, able to share the responsibilities of child rearing with another reasonable and responsive person.
- Resentful of the parent whose partner is often travelling or busy, who declares to you: “I feel like a single parent too!”
- Angry that the world is so isolating – and expects so much from us while giving so little support.
Overtime, this jealously, resentment and anger can pile up. It can strain your relationships, making you pull way or keep people at arms distance. Ultimately, you may find yourself battling feelings of defeat or depression. Life has lost so much of its hope and joy.
Unfortunately, in the moments that you recognize that you are “going under”, that you desperately need to create some time and space for yourself, guilt rears its ugly head and knocks you off your feet.
You have the inclination to do something for yourself, something to pick up your spirits, to help you feel less stuck, less overwhelmed. Something like:
- Go to the gym and get in shape
- Get a manicure (or a haircut!)
- Go out for a night with friends
- Immerse yourself in a really good book
- Take a weekend trip to the shore
- Attend a class you've been dying to go to
- Look for a job that will pay better or ask less of you
- Start that business that's been perking in the back of your mind
Only to find that inclination quickly followed by:
- “How can I justify taking time for me when they need me so much?”
- “My ex would have a field day if he or she knew”
- “If I do this for me, it’s taking time away from them.”
- “I’m being selfish – putting my needs ahead of theirs.”
It all feels like just too much! And, it can be a whole lot easier.
A favorite quote of mine is:
“Even the most challenging course becomes easier with the right perspective.”
Time and time again, in my own life and in the lives of those I work with, finding the “right perspective” – the perspective that helps you focus in a positive direction, create life balance, and allows you to move forward – has made things much easier.
For example, a moment ago we looked out how guilt can sabotage your inclination to do something for yourself, because you may view self-care as being selfish.
What does it look like if you view self-care as selfless – done on behalf of someone else? From this perspective, taking time for yourself helps to improve your ability to be there for other people – fully, responsively, without being cranky or distracted?
You may not be able to change all of the circumstances of your life, at least not immediately, but you can change how you perceive and relate to those circumstances.
Wellness Coaching offers you an opportunity to find the perspectives that make life not just bearable, but more balanced and enjoyable.
Coaching also offers you an opportunity to step back and see the big-picture – to clarify where you want you and your family to be in life and then gives you support in identifying the thoughts and actions that will help you achieve that vision. Being a short term (6-12 month) process, it is also great for time-pressed people who want to start thriving instead of merely surviving.
Through coaching, in less time and more effectively than on your own, you can:
- See the big picture that you’ve been missing
- Restore your sense of self
- Reignite a feeling of hope
- Learn how to better navigate stress
- Discover ways to meet your needs - while also meeting your kids needs
- Live a more satisfying life
Clients who have coached with me report feeling:
- Less conflicted inside (and yelling a whole lot less!)
- More inspired and creative
- More fulfilled by what they're involved in
- Like they’re living a more unified life
- More able to relax and enjoy their day to day lives
Ready to find your genuine smile again?
Let's talk - it's never to early to create the life that deeply you want.
You deserve it - and so do your kids!