Savage is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts
at Home, an organization designed to encourage, educate,
and equip women in the profession of motherhood.
Hearts at Home
Solutions for Stressed-Out Single Moms
CBN.com Last weekend I added my sister’s four children to our family for three days while she and her husband took off for some couple time. With my five children that brought the grand total to nine children! Needless to say, things were a bit hectic for a few days.
Throughout the weekend, my husband and I tag- teamed to keep diapers changed, kids fed, and to catch a little shut-eye. At the end of the weekend, I was talking with Amanda, a single mom of three at our church. We were discussing how physically draining it is to care for children. And we talked about how challenging it is for single moms who don’t have anyone to tag-team with in the daily responsibilities of childcare and parenting.
A mom who finds herself parenting alone, has to be so intentional about what she does everyday. She has to stand firm with parenting issues, she has to be organized to manage all the responsibilities of holding a job and caring for a family, and she has to learn how to take care of herself in the midst of it all.
The insecurities of doing this thing alone bring about many questions,
“How do I protect my child from an unhealthy environment at her father’s home?” “How do I get my teenage children to listen to and respect what I say?” “How do I find time for myself in the midst of caring for my family’s needs?” My friend Amanda, a single mom of three, recently shared some of the lessons she’s learning as a single parent:
Take Care of Yourself First
No one is going to come along and rescue you. You have to be in tune with yourself and know what fills your emotional fuel tank. Is it exercise? Reading? Dinner with a friend? Whatever it is, put it on your schedule and make it happen on a regular basis. This helps you parent on a full tank instead of running on empty.
Don’t Be Afraid to Set Boundaries.
Dr. Kevin Leman says, “Your job is not to be your child’s friend. You are to be the parent.” Kids respect parents who give them leadership. Even if you haven’t led your kids well, it’s never too late to start. Have a heart to heart with your teens and tell them that you’ll be doing some things differently from this point on. Explain that you love them enough to give them leadership, direction, and boundaries when necessary. For proven strategies on raising teenagers, check out my book Got Teens? Time Tested Answers For Moms of Tweens and Teens.
We’re not designed to do this parenting thing alone. Learn to pray arrow prayers---quick requests for wisdom. Spend time reading God’s word. It offers direction and wisdom for you as a person and as a parent.
Find a Church
A church environment can be an important part of your extended family, spiritually speaking. The single moms in our church are able to connect with friends who help with childcare, car repairs, and general encouragement. Plug into a small group if your church offers them.
Don’t be Afraid to Seek Legal Help.
If your child’s father is not a responsible parent, do not hesitate to do what you need to do legally to protect your child. One mom shared her concern that her child’s father was an alcoholic and the home had drugs in it. That mother’s concerns are valid and should be brought to the attention of the authorities.
Do Everything Within Your Power to Not Speak Unkindly of the Other Parent
Regardless of whether you agree with the parent or not, your children need to hear you speaking respectfully of their father. This models respect for them. The Bible says that when the Holy Spirit lives in us we will find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. To keep our harsh remarks to ourselves takes a lot of self-control—but with God’s help, you can do it!
Partner with Another Single Mom
My friend Robin has “junk food night” every Friday night with her kids and another single parent family. This friendship has blossomed over the years and both families look forward to their Friday nights. Outside of Friday night, the moms trade sitting and help one another out whenever possible. We all need to be with other people who understand what our life is like.
Most importantly, however, you have to keep your eyes on the Mountain Mover rather than the mountains in your life. As a single parent, it will often feel there are a lot of mountains you face. However, God is the Mountain Mover. When you keep that perspective, it keeps you looking in the right direction!
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org)
is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org),
an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the
profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her
newest release My Heart’s At Home. Jill and her husband, Mark,
have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
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