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Survival Guide for a single parent
Don't kid yourself there is no doubt in my mind that single parenting is one of the hardest things in the world to do. I often hear people on the radio asking the age old question, ""Are two parents better than one?" Well, that really depends on how good the one or two people are at being parents doesn't it? One thing is certain, that if you are a single parent and you have two children who are both demanding your attention at the same time to help them complete their homework, then yes, sometimes two are better than one! It doesn't have to be two parents, though does it? It could be Mum and Grandma, Mum and a friend, Mum and extra help from a classroom assistant. Sometimes it is necessary for us to get that help in whatever way we can for our children. Othertimes we may feel that we can cope quite adequately.
There is no doubt in my mind having been a single parent for 15 years that at times I felt like giving up. Just sitting there and crying or staying in bed and hopiing that life would just all go away! But I made it, I crossed the wining line and my children have now both left home and are living independently. I knew it would be a hard road to take when I decided to leave the children's father with my two sons age 7 and 9. Many of my friends thought that I was completely mad. Especially as I left the house behind and had to find somewhere to rent. One of the hardest things to deal with was the fact that money was so tight. Having not worked apart from voluntary for ten years because I was married to a husband who focused just on his career, it was hard for me to find work. There were jobs but few and far between and wages were low.
First Tip for Survival go on a course.
If this is you and you haven't worked for quite a few years - make it a priority to start a course. This may involve paying for a babysitter or childminder each week which can be tough on your finances, but try to make this a priority. There will be time to socialise after you have got those qualifications and you are able to earn more money.
I remember driviing 45 minutes in the snow and ice on windy country lanes to get a Word Processing Certificate - but then I was off, I was able to get a small job. The job was not well paid but it still gave me experience and got be out of a slump. Later I trained as a massage therapist. which was something I had always wanted to do. This took a year to get the basic qualification. Infact, I did this for two years because the first year when I was nearly at the end, I had to quit because I had to move and find another rented home. I couldn't concentrate on studying, packing boxes and having the insecurity of needing somewhere to live. The next time I did the course it was easier. So basically I had to pay for sitting for nearly two years in total during which time I only went out when I was doing my job, course or meditation group which kept me sane!
Second Tip for Survival
Take up meditation. Now you can do this on your own nowadays. There are books, DVDs, CDs, You Tubes and all sorts of wonderful ways to keep you focused and calm. I would recommend finding a meditation that you like online such as a You Tube and using it for 10 minutes a day. Still, I do not think you can beat sitting in a group and supporting each other. Not only does this help with spiritual development and general relaxation but it also enables you to make friends. You might be surprised. Sometimes people who seem so radically different from you on the outset become your greatest friends. I have a good friend I made like this through a meditation group I went to when my son was 2 years old that is 19 years ago now. She is like an Aunty to my children and she has always been there for me come, wind or hail. It is a fantastic way of meeting people who really care. In addition to this meditation keeps you sane, I couldn't live without it.
Third Tip for Survival - Friendship
We all need friends. Don't think because you are a single parent you are any the less of a person. If you feel you are "needy" because there is you and all these problems to deal with, believe you me that is normal. Even if you were living with a partner, you could still have a whole host of problems, that's life and living. If you feel as I used to, that you don't have anything to give back to friends who are constantly helping you, then you might be surprised that thingsdo change in time. Nothing is for ever and remember a friend in need is a friend indeed. It could be that you are giving another person valuable experience for their own soul growth. You may have a close friend who does not have any children and hearing about yours, actually opens up her world to new possibilities. Try not to think that you are being a nuisance to anyone.
I remember that I had a friend who drove (because at the time I didn't) who use to come over everyweek and pick me up in her car to take me and my son to the local playgroup which was about a miles walk. I was always so grateful as it involved walking by the side of a very busy road which in the winter was horrid. This is before I was a single parent. Later though, when I was on my own and I had passed my test, I picked up another single parent and her children and took them to school because she couldn't drive. She had also just moved to the town and didn't know anyone. Things go round in cycles and you will be given the opportunity to help someone just like you, in the future!
Fourth Tip for Survival - Consistency
To be honest not everything was that consistent for my sons. They did see their father on a regular basis but as time went on this became more spread out. Starting fortnightly but later changing to monthly which must have been very disappointing for them. What I did try and keep consistent was that they were together. If they went to a childminder, it was together. They went to the same school until one got older. The houses were a problem because like I said for a while we rented until we got a more regular place. There were all sorts of reasons that came up which led us to keep moving and this was very unsettling. The good and consitent thing about it is that I worked in the mornings so I always collected them each day from school and they were always together. We were still a family unit although their father didn't see them so much and they had each other and their school friends.
Fifth Tip for Survival - Exercise
Going out for walks and cycle rides. Children have loads of energy. I use to cycle with my kids. The three of us would go out for cycle rides together. This was really before it was safe for them to go along way on their own. We use to live in a little rented cottage out in the sticks so it wasn't safe for them to go too far and there were no pavements. Later when we moved to our new home right in a village, they would still go out on their bikes a lot with their friends. Well one of them did, the other liked to play on computere games!
Sixth Tip for Survival - Love and Relationships
You may not feel like you can have a proper love relationship for fear of upsetting your children. Life has suddenly become very complicated with Mum and Dad getting boyfriends and girlfriends which is a term that your children haven't even heard before until it starts to happen! Life is about striking a balance in things. If you deny yourself relationships and say "I will wait until they are grown up." Then you could be waiting 15 years or so before the children are old enough to properly understand. You may think that the children are the most important thing in your world which they undoubtedly are, but you have to offset that against your own needs. You may find that may men/women are interested in you but they do not want to do the family thing. They may have gone through a similar experience themselves or they might be just looking for some short term company. Many people give marriages a second try with a new partner and the children are really quite happy and settle well. Personally I feel that new partners, or boyfriends have to be introduced slowly so if you can set aside some time for just the two of you so much the better. My tip on this would be communication is the key to it all make sure that everyone is happy. Talk to your children and find out how they really feel.
There are great rewards in being a single parent. If someone says this to you at the time when you are really struggling, there is no doubt that you might think, what! However as time goes on and your children start to do well at school, have good friends and start their own careers, you will definitely think that it was worth all the hard work. You are a parent forever, it doesn't suddenly stop but when they have their own apartment and start to earn their own money and learn how to look after themselves you can then breathe a sigh of relief!