Here is Part Two of my keeping positive as a single parent blog post.
6. Keep yourself busy while your children are away.
took over three and a half years before both my children went to stay over night with their Dad. I had been lucky, in a way, that I had had the time to think about how I could handle this. As soon as it was agreed that he would take both children for that first over night stay, I made sure I had my work planned out as to keep myself busy. I was not totally convinced that they would actually stay over so I bought myself my favourite foods and got on with things that I needed to catch up on. I even listened to the sweariest sweary music that I could find. Just because I could! Still in disbelief that my children had stayed for this first night, I arranged a night out with my friends for the next time they were scheduled to sleep over. I stayed close to home, just in case the children needed me but they didn’t and it was a very fun evening, with lots of laughing.
7. Accept that you have limits.
As a single parent, you can often feel like you are doing the job of two people because, well, effectively you are. Working full time, being there for the children, getting everyone where they need to be on time, seeing family and friends, tending to the children when they are poorly, seeing family members when they are poorly (I have spent much of this year visiting people in various hospitals), feeling absolutely guilty when I have to ask for time off work/to re-schedule because the Nursery or School have sent one of my children home due to illness, getting up with them throughout the night, discussing any difficulties they are having with the idea of having separated parents, finding time to spend ‘quality’ time with each child, plus the other many, many responsibilities and commitments that I have can be draining. I also think that you can feel like this, even if you have a partner.
At the end of the day though, this can wear you down. In my experience, I find that when I am absolutely at my limit, I just stop all the work I am doing at home for a day and only concentrate on my children. They are most important after all. Working and doing all of this to make a better life for them is wonderful but you need to have fun times too. I tend to take them to the cinema, the park or just have a muck about in the garden with them for an hour or more and it makes us all feel loads better.
8. Find support groups on the web.
I have found a couple of really useful support groups on the web and on Facebook that I have really identified with. I do not always comment but reading that others have the same positives, problems and thoughts that I have is a great comfort. I have found these groups are very supportive. If there is the odd judgemental comment, these commenters usually get shot down straight away by the other positive, supportive members of the group.
9. Talk to your children.
Sometimes, we hold things back from children and other times, they need to know what is happening. If I am feeling low due to working until 2am then getting up at 6.30am to sort out School and Nursery for them, returning to work from home, going into work, picking up from School and Nursery, cooking tea, doing the washing, caring for the dog, getting them bathed and ready for bed, getting the bedtime stories read and discussing any highs and lows of their days, not to mention the regular homework discussion, then back to working from home again for the whole evening before collapsing in bed at 2am again, is a lot to do in one day, let alone for most days of the week. If this is the case, I talk to my children about it. I make them aware that I am trying my hardest to make our lives better. I tell them that I love them and that I am very lucky to be able to have jobs where I can still spend lots of time with them. I tell them that it will not be like this forever. It makes them feel better and it makes me feel better about our situation. As a result, my children behave well as they understand that I am not just playing games on my laptop and that I am doing my best for their future.
Striving for the elusive work/life balance is often an unrealistic way of looking at it all. You do your best. You just get on with it as there I not really an alternative.
10. Have fun times.
Make sure that you don’t get bogged down with all the serious stuff. Try to go out and have some fun, even if it is only for half an hour. I find money is short here so we make sure we do free things. Even going for a walk to find and collect wild flowers, to see the ducks, to visit a friend, to have a paddle in the paddling pool in the garden, to do the gardening with me or to help me with jobs around the house can all be fun activities. We make them fun and we always end up giggling. They do say that laughter is the best medicine. Keeping positive and having a giggle with your children is very important. Otherwise, what are you doing all this for?
How do you keep positive, as a parent, when things feel overwhelming?