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Monday, January 23, 2012
How to Take Care of Yourself as a Single Parent
If you have children, you're blessed; if you're a single parent, you're blessed and busy. Raising children is a joy; being a single parent is challenging. Taking care of yourself, running a household, earning the money, paying the rent, cleaning the house, running the errands, washing the clothes, cooking the meals, squeezing in a social life, attending school functions, doing homework, remembering to get the oil change, paying the dentist bill is hard. Balancing the checkbook is impossible. It's difficult and you're doing it. You're exhausted. You want to take care of yourself, but where do you begin?
Give Yourself a Mini Break. Put aside the "To Do" list for a day. Nothing terrible will happen if you say, "not today" to your list. If you're a single parent, you're exhausted and can benefit from a break, but figuring out how to take one isn't as easy as it sounds. Perhaps you might start by eliminating one tiny item from your "To Do" List. Ask yourself, "Do I really have to clean the bathrooms tonight? Can I skip scrubbing the floor? Isn't it okay to let the kids skip a bath tonight?" A mini break from the hectic routine is a good start in taking good care of yourself.
Ask for Help. This is often tough for women to do, but there are times when it's healthy for us to allow others to pitch in and care for us. Our lives are so much about serving others, being busy, useful, caring and nurturing, that we forget to balance our own lives. When we are tired, sad, overwhelmed or sick it's OK for us to allow others to help out. It's OK to reach out and ask for what we need. I know it's scary, but letting others help out, gives them a chance to give too.
Say "No." You have the right to say "no" without feeling guilty. Single mothers are so accustomed to saying "yes" that we're afraid of what others will think if we don't do what they ask. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and set limits. Even though you might be afraid of disappointing others, if we don't stand up for ourselves we end up feeling resentful and that is not healthy for ourselves or our children.
Replenish Yourself Too. Single moms give and give and give. We put our children first and this is natural, but it is not healthy to give until we feel drained, deprived and worn out. Overgiving is often laced with resentment and anger. It's being a martyr and sends the unspoken message of: "after all I do for you." This is not healthy for families. For us to give freely we need to fill ourselves up first. Then love is overflowing onto our children. Our energy comes from taking care of ourselves. Ask yourself: "What replenishes me so that I have energy?" "What small step can I take to refuel myself?"
Eliminate Should, Have to and Can't. When we talk to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds, we are often mean and negative. We carry around a harsh inner voice that discourages and scolds us. Such messages add to our sense of aloneness and stress. If we can erase the words should, have to and can't, we empower ourself by giving ourselves more choices. We don't have to, but we may choose to. We have the power to decide for ourselves.