With over 13 million single moms in the United States alone it’s fair to say if you’re a single mom, you’re not alone. Yet, somehow the word Single seems to minimize and cheat the other words that come to mind – Godly, Loving, Kind, Persevering, Determined, Compassionate, Effective, Strategic, Caring, Strong, Persuasive, Prayerful, Fun, Resilient, Resourceful, Intelligent, Courageous, Valiant, Daring, Reasonable, Responsible, Bold, Fearless, Funny, Devoted, Heroic, Resolute, Brave, Faithful, Powerful, Hard Working, Influential, Genius, Tenacious, Beautiful, Compelling, and Dedicated to name a few. As a force to be reckoned with, single moms move through moments of feeling overwhelmed, stressed, tired, and even inadequate with a stride that can only be described as necessary to perform the immeasurable job at hand. As Mommy CEO your role is invaluable and your inner strength is the base from which your tasks and goals are effectively accomplished or significantly challenged. Below are 7 tips to boost your inner arsenal as you lead and champion your family.
Tip 1 – Perspective Drives Approach… There is a direct connection between what you think, say, and do. As the saying goes, the person who thinks they can, and the one who thinks they can’t are both correct. Therefore, your perspective is critical. As a single mom your decisions affect a lot of things and sometimes the problem is not whether or not you’re doing your best. Your best will always be good enough but sometimes your energy is geared toward the wrong target. If your approach is not yielding the result you want, consider changing your perspective so you can see the value in a changed approach. If you’re falling short on your desired outcome, seek people, places, and things that broaden your perspective and offer approaches to get you off the treadmill and onto a new path.
Tip 2 – Put Yourself On The List… I know the list is long, but there’s one problem, you’re not on it! This time when you make your infamous things to do list, you have a new requirement – Two of the items must relate to depressurizing, rewarding, and caring for your own spirit. And, there are no rules, the list may include creating a half hour of uninterrupted time for prayer and meditation, taking a warm bath, taking a walk, or spending some quiet time to read a book among many others. As a single mom, you can’t afford to view relaxation and rejuvenation as a luxury.
Tip 3 – Barter, Barter, Barter… Repeat after me “There’s no prize for doing it alone”! Release yourself of the expectation that everything must be done by you, yourself, and I. Try bartering and partnering with people who have similar values and/or circumstances to develop an extended support system beyond your family. You may already be doing this on some level, but let us step it up a notch. There are benefits to thinking outside the box and uncovering new ways to accomplish what needs to be done (e.g., dinner sharing, carpooling, taking turns caring for your neighbors kids and vice versa, joining clubs that offer resources and information to support your parenting, etc.). What would happen if you shared your things to do list with two like-minded women? Might there be overlaps that you can delegate between the three of you to maximize your efforts? You won’t know unless you try. If you let people know you’re interested in partnering on things that can be mutually beneficial, you may discover you have allies waiting in the wings to help you tackle your critical needs most effectively.
Tip 4 – Break the Tradition… You know the tradition that states never air your dirty laundry? Unfortunately, people never mention that the stench alone may kill you! Well, no better time than the present to wash or completely throw away those soiled bundles. Secrets and deep rooted pain are good at two things, making you tired and keeping you sick. Together they seek to endanger your emotional health and negatively affect the people you love the most – Your children. So, where does it hurt? Are you ready to take dominion over it? Are you ready to forgive those who hurt you? Are you willing to start traveling light? With the number of counseling professionals, lay counseling ministries, employment assistance programs, and community options available, help is but a choice away. This is your season to talk through the pain, forgive yourself, and resolve the issues that have kept you bound. The bottom line, with God you can overcome anything and the key to your healing is in your hand, so dare to use it.
Tip 5 – Evict the Guilt… It used to be cute to speak of spoiling our children as a good thing. Now, it’s more evident that doing everything for them and giving everything to them is more about filling our needs than meeting theirs. As a single parent, self-management is key to ensuring you don’t get stuck with the expensive cost of overcompensation. Here’s a quick checklist – Are you enforcing appropriate boundaries? Are you being consistent? Are you praising good actions and holding them accountable for inappropriate ones? Are you requiring them to respect authority? Are you assigning age appropriate chores? Are you offering opportunities to practice value added virtues (e.g., patience) through serving of others? Remember, requiring nothing from our children because of guilt is the worst approach we could use in parenting. Children live what they learn, which means they will live what we teach them. Here’s the thing, no matter how you ended up being a single mom, you are the best thing that ever happened to them. God chose you to be their first teacher for a reason – He believed you were best fit for the job.
Tip 6 – Boundaries Are Your Friend – Each day solidifies time as a precious gift. We can’t earn it and it’s not promised. However, what we do have is an ability to manage it poorly or effectively. As a single mom, the word yes may be a popular and most used word in your vocabulary, but it may be in your best interest to start practicing the word NO. None of us can accuse others of stealing or wasting our time if we negligibly give it away. If balance is good, so is the word No. In fact, No is a very necessary word. It won’t hurt, harm, kill or devastate as many people as we often imagine it will. Not to mention, those who really care for your well-being will understand that you can’t be at every function, on every committee, and in four places at the same time. This doesn’t make you a bad mom, it makes you a wise one. If you let it, saying no can liberate you from being where you don’t want to be, staying longer than you want to stay, and doing what you don’t want to do. It can single handedly free you from using obligation as the leading force in how, what, and with whom you choose to spend your time. That’s a good thing!
Tip 7 – Put a stretched out “U” on it… Without sounding too elementary, smiles are absolutely free and they make a difference. When you laugh, smile, or allow yourself to see beauty in the little things, you kick the adversary right in the gut. Here’s the thing, laughter is an unconventional and underestimated kind of praise and it does the mind, body, and spirit a world of good. Did I mention that it was FREE? Oh yeah, I think I did. There’s power in seeing YOU with your stretched out “U” in full effect across that beautiful face of yours. And there’s nothing like the sight of a woman laughing, smiling, and experiencing joy to share a glimpse of God’s grace in full effect. I bet your kids will enjoy it most of all.
For more information on Dr. Nicole LaBeach, please visit her official website at www.askdrnicole.com.