I’ve been a single mom for 17 years. Though I firmly believe that all moms have it rough, regardless of marital or work status, it’s undeniable that being a single parent comes with some very unique parenting challenges.
Over the years, I’ve found there were times when I made parenting a lot harder than it needed to be. And when that happened, I needed to take a step back and evaluate what we (both me and the kids) were doing to figure out how to make things a little easier.
Do you sometimes feel like you make being a single parent harder than it needs to be? Let’s look at three signs that you’re doing just that.
You feel like everything is a struggle
Parenting isn’t always easy, but you feel like even the stuff that is meant to be fun is a battle. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to play a game, cook dinner, help with homework, or put the kids to bed, it’s a fight. You dread everything because it’s always so hard.
You might even find that you look forward to going to work, the kids going to school, or other situations where you and the kids are apart. It’s not that you don’t love the kids. It’s just so much easier when you’re not actively parenting them.
You’re constantly comparing yourself to other parents
You’re finding all the “good” they do that you don’t, and all the “bad” you do that they don’t. You’re picking apart everything other parents do and everything you do, looking for the good and bad. You take any advice or constructive criticism as a judgment on your parenting. You think compliments are veiled criticism and that people don’t really mean them.
And you feel guilty and ashamed of all of it. You feel guilty and ashamed for what you think you should be doing but aren’t and shouldn’t be doing but are. You feel guilt and shame for looking so hard for the rights and wrongs and for the way you take what people say to you, good or bad, about your parenting. And yet, you just can’t seem to stop yourself from doing it, either.
You’re getting more and more rigid with rules and control to try to make things “right”
As you try harder and harder to make things “right” or “good,” you get more and more rigid with rules and control. You have so many rules that you can’t even remember them all. You’re constantly watching the kids, waiting for them to break a rule so you can discipline them in hopes that this time will make a difference. You don’t leave the kids unsupervised ever, even for a second, because they might do something they shouldn’t and you just can’t let them do that again.
Or you feel like you might as well just give up because no one listens to you anyway. You’ve tried being more rigid and controlling and you’ve tried being more laidback but none of it works. So why bother? You feel like there would be no difference between your efforts and just letting the kids go feral.
What do you do when you realize you’re making it harder on yourself?
You surrender! You let go and lighten up a little! Remind yourself that you’re only one person and there’s only so much you can do. You’re a single parent, so the idea that you can’t do it all is especially true for you. You have no one to back you up 24/7, so you must decide what really matters and what can just slide sometimes.
Decide which battles are really worth fighting and which ones aren’t so you can focus your energy where it matters. Don’t let the kids get away with murder, of course. But give yourself some priorities. Figure out which things they do are the worst offenses for you and deal with those. Let minor stuff go — at least until you feel like you have the bigger stuff under control.
Most of all, just love on those kids. Find ways to have fun (that’s really fun!) and enjoy some quality time together so you can reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
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