Posted 22 May 2020
Jasmin is a single parent and trustee at Gingerbread. She is passionate about improving the lives of single parents, young people and their families. She is a a former deputy headteacher and also advises on...
Posted 16 November 2017
Lidia has put together her top ten tips to support others get through the highs and lows of single parenthood.
It’s not always easy to love and accept yourself as a single parent. Sometimes we live in daily guilt because we feel we are a bad parent. We live with negative feelings about ourselves and our bodies as we have the tendency to neglect ourselves as our children come first. Rightly so. We give in to stress, smoking, drinking, over eating…as it’s tough being a single parent and we all have our ways of dealing with stress in our lives. It’s easier giving in than to be positive and healthy each day, but guess what, you will still feel crappy. Staying positive, grateful and healthy will change your whole life, I’m not saying it’s easy because it isn’t, it’s really hard but the effect it will have on your life is far better.
We as role models for our children should model a happy healthy and grateful life. We are bloody awesome single parents, even with our imperfect bodies of stress and strain. You are beautiful. See yourself the way your children see you, with unconditional love and acceptance.
I can be hard on myself when I don’t achieve things I want to achieve. There are days when I discipline my daughter and I beat myself up because I feel I was too hard on her. When she says she hates me I feel like a failure and makes me think I should be a better parent. The thing is I’m am not a bad parent and neither are you, take it easy. They are teens in my case, or toddlers or just kids, its tough growing up and they will have their moods when they don’t get their way, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
There is no book on raising kids, there is no right or wrong way. Try your best not to be hard on yourself and remember you are not alone. Take the reins off and don’t whip yourself.
As a parent you always intend to do the best for your children. Sometimes we feel confused between what we want to do for them vs what we need to do. As a single parent you always do the best for your children, however when I say do the best, I mean just keep on doing your best. Sometimes as a parent, we feel like what we are doing for them is not always the best and we end up being confused, over compensating, spoiling them and giving in to their demands. We think this is the best for them but actually, it can be more detrimental. So when you initially know that what you are doing is the best for them, even if it means sometimes they get hurt or upset, keep on doing what’s best, not what’s easy for them or easy for us at that specific moment. You will reap the benefits of this.
My daughter said to me the other day “Mommy you are so selfish sometimes”. I was quite shocked but then I thought about it and wondered why she said this to me. I realized that I am selfish, but in a good way. I take care my daughter’s needs and then mine and always make sure I am ok before I think of other people. I know it sounds really selfish but if I am not a complete and fulfilled person how can I support and be strong for my daughter. Therefore it is important to be selfish sometimes, in a good and positive way for you to be stronger.
Be yourself. Have fun. Be crazy and weird even if it embarrasses your kids. Dance, sing, and laugh as much as you can. If there is an opportunity to smile and laugh with your kids, just do it. Laughter is the best medicine for your soul. Embrace this fun and laughter always as some days it may feel very limited. Laughter can create amazing memories to think back on. Being silly sometimes will help you realise that life shouldn’t always be taken too seriously, you can let loose every once in a while.
One of the worst things in life is to have resentment and even worse is having resentment towards your children. I learnt a very valuable lesson. Sometimes resentment and hate can creep into your life as a single parent. I had to give up allot of dreams and passions, and also give up relationships for my daughter. I had to end up in a relationship to show me that I had so much resentment towards my daughter and blamed her for me not being able to live my life the way I wanted to. This was so wrong and I had to deal with it. After all, it was me that brought her into this world. I was given the amazing calling of being a mother. It was not her fault. So I deal with resentment – as this can haunt you and cause separation between you and your children. And it can cause bitterness. It’s not easy to bring restoration. I am so grateful I identified this and was able to banish all resentment.
It doesn’t mean that if you are a single parent you have to give up on your dreams, goals and passions. But it may mean they need to be postponed, adapted or reviewed at times when your children need you more. Don’t ever think you can’t fulfil every dream and goal. Make a list, and make it happen, prioritize the list accordingly, even if it takes you five years to achieve them. Believe you can and you will. I have been able to follow many of my dreams, and now I can experience this with my daughter by my side. Some of them have been on hold for a few years but I am now able to follow my health, fitness and inspiration passion to help others in similar situations. Now my precious daughter can walk this journey with me. No matter how small or big your goal is never use you children as an excuse that you can’t achieve them.
I know as a single parent we need all the advice and help we can get. There can be days when we don’t know if we are coming or going. All we want is for someone to help us whether it is the right or wrong. We often want to scream ‘HELP ME!’ for someone just to listen and say it will be ok. People give advice the best they can but sometimes they have no clue what they are saying. Many people do not get single parents and our unique situations. With that being said, they will try and give us advice – they could be married, single, men, woman or someone who has no children. I always take advice but then ponder about it. Perhaps talk to other single parent’s just for a second opinion and then decide about the advice. I’m not saying ignore advice from people, friends and family. Just evaluate the advice and ask, do they actually get me and my situation? You can then choose to accept the advice or put it on the shelf. The choice is always up to you.
There will be days when nothing else can be done, said or thought, only breathing helps. Pouring fuel on a fire is not good. It has taken me 13 years to walk away from a raging child and sit down and breathe. I have tried all methods and this is the best and easiest one for me and my daughter. Breathing helps calm you and makes you think and react with clarity and not with impulse or anger. I have found that meditating or just being still for a few minutes on my own works wonders when it’s a bad day for us.
Take a relaxing bath. Do your nails. Call a friend. Go to gym. Go for a walk. Mediate. Read a book. Watch a movie, have a nap, have a spa day, visit a museum or take a dance lesson. Always make ‘me’ time beneficial for your body, mind and soul. Making ‘me’ time basically means refuelling. You really need this. Trust me. And please don’t feel guilty investing in yourself. As a single mother, I never want to spend time, money, or energy on myself. I have learnt that for me to be the best parent I can be for my child, is to invest in myself and make the effort to have ME time.