Saturday, February 7, 2009

tips on surviving single-motherhood

Or just tips on surviving motherhood in general -- but as I have been single-mothering during the week lately (Les' job has taken him out of town during the week for the last couple of weeks, and for the next couple yet to come as well), I have taken note of some things that work and some things that don't work in getting through the week successfully.

1. Pick your battles. This is one that applies to all parents everywhere. Yes, you want your kids to always do as their told and follow the rules of the home. But is everything worth a fight? For example: when my kids come inside, they are to get themselves undressed from all of their winter gear and hang up/put away their jackets, ski pants and boots in the closet before running off to play. But lately there have been 2 mornings where Joelle has dropped to the floor upon entering the house from her busy morning of school. With her back-pack still over her shoulders, she lays on her back, her legs and arms spread out so she looks like a star-fish, and says "Mom, I'm so tired...can you help me?" Joelle is quite capable of taking off her winter gear independantly, and knows that this is just one of the house rules. But -- knowing her like I do, and seeing in her eyes that she really is tired -- instead of enforcing the rule on her and pushing her over the edge (when she's tired, it's very easy to make her snap), I decide to turn it into something fun and silly. I get on my knees, make a weird face and say in a silly voice: "Oh, my poor baby...Is my baby tired? Does she need a diaper change?" On both ocasions, Joelle started to giggle and get into her role as the baby. While I am taking off her layers, I pretend that she is indeed my little baby and needs a diaper change. Instead of me turning something small like that into an all-out war, I turned it into a fun game and kept the mood light. Now, if this were to happen on a regular basis, I might have to do things differently so that I didn't end up ALWAYS doing things for her that she should be doing for herself. But every once in awhile, we as parents need to lighten up.

2. Dress for Success! I am not one of those stay-at-home mom's who wears sweat pants and baggy sweaters. I don't judge those who do, but for myself, I feel so much better if I dress for success. I don't get overly dressy or anything, Boldbut even if I'm just going to be at home all day long, I wear what I would wear if I were to go out in public to the mall, or to a family dinner or something. I still make sure it's comfortable, but that it makes me feel good. I also do my hair every day and sometimes I even put on make-up even if I'm just staying at home. I also change my earrings to 'go' with my outfit, and even add a necklace and maybe even a bracelet. I feel more refreshed and ready to face the day than if I were just hanging out in sweats.

3. Me-Time. Of course this is a must for every parent, whether it be a Mom or a Dad, a stay-at-home parent or a working parent. A single parent or a co-parent. It doesn't matter what kind of parent -- this sought-after "me-time" is a necessary ingredient for surviving parent-hood. This me-time can come in several different forms. For me -- during my single-motherhood days -- it happens in the afternoon. After lunch, I send my girls upstairs to play in their rooms (either apart or together -- depending on their moods and if I feel they need time by themselves) and I do a work-out. Then, they get to go downstairs to watch a movie while I put my feet up and watch the Ellen Degeneres show and play on the computer. For those of you who are not home during the day with your kids but still need some 'me-time' in the evening -- try some other options. If your hubby is home in the evening, let him 'clock in' for a bit while you lock yourself in your room to read a book or take a bubble bath.

4. Take time for the kiddos. Children want attention from their parents, no question about it. They want to spend time with their momma's, so give that gift of time to them. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to focus on them. Even if you have kids who play nicely together and could easily occupy themselves on their own -- don't leave out this important aspect of parenting. Read books together for 1/2 an hour, or look up a fun craft on the computer that you can all do together. Play outside in the snow (or go for a bike ride for those lucky enough to not have to endure the harsh Canadian winters!), play a board game, or bake cookies. Not only will this eat up some time in a potentially long day -- but you will be creating memories with your children that will last forever.

5. Take advantage of the weekends. When Les does come home on weekends, we make the most of our time together as a family. For the last 3 weekends (ever since he started this out-of-town stint), we have made special effort to do fun family outings where we can all be together. One weekend it was swimming, the next was taking the girls toboganning and to see Madagascar 2 at our cheap theatre, and today it was bowling night!

The last couple of weeks have been a big adjustment for me, and the following few weeks will also likely present its challenges -- but if I remember these self-written tips, I am confident that I can make it through this time and maybe even become a better mother through it all!!

Kudos to you who single-parent on a permanent basis. I honestly don't know how you do it....

10 comments:

andrea said...

great advice! and simple yet meaningful reminders as we raise our kiddos! i don't want to wait for the next stage...but savour where i am now! i am so amazed at single parenthood since my stint...it's not easy! I need to remember 'getting out time' for my sanity!...maybe today, thanks for this great post love!

Pam said...

Wow! Can you come raise my kids? I know they would love this mommy you described since they don't seem to find her in our house!

Kelly said...

My hubby works a lot too and isn't around much. I agree with everything on your list. I do work during the day so sometimes finding time for it all is very difficult but I try. I hope it continues to work for you.

Rebecca said...

I practiced #1 Friday when getting the kids ready for Michael to go to school - Lydia found a pumpkin costume & didn't want to take it off. It had already been a rough morning and I didn't have the fight in me, esp over a pumpkin. So she went to his school dressed as a little pumpkin (over her clothing of course) and other than a couple of parents asking why & some chuckles it was no big deal.

I do #2 (taking the boy to & from school daily helps with that) but slack on it Sat & Sun unless we're running errands. Once in a while I enjoy a complete lazy day staying in jammies, hehe.

Roo said...

you are a wise wise woman and i have learned from reading this post. xo

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

great post, Andrea! I hate the times when I am parenting solo. And my hat is definitely off to those who have to do that full-time!

Leeann said...

*sigh* I'm the mom in the yoga pants and t-shirt. (with the spit up onmy shoulder) I wanna be the "put together mommy". *sigh*

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Great tips...especially about picking your battles. I am such a rule follower, that I often become a bit of a tyrant with the kids. This is one of those things that we have to parent based on the situation. Some rules are not always hard and fast...

Xandra

Kathy and Carl said...

Great words of wisdom. I especially like #2. I'm sitting here in sweat pants, knowing full well that it makes me feel sluggish and blah. I'm going to change and find my favourite pair of earrings...that'll help.

common mom said...

Excellent advice! My hubby is a pilot - we've been a "part-time" family forever. He's gone 8 days, then home 7 days always. Two things about this schedule - 1) when he's gone you get in a groove and do your thing and all is well, then he comes home and you have to get into a different groove - not easy. 2) the schedule, or lack thereof, keeps it all fresh . . . the marriage, the family, the jobs, the kids. Never a chance to get into a rut. It's amazing how we MAKE time for our family and spend so much time together when he is home because we don't take the opportunites for granted.

One important thing to remember as the single mom is that YOU are important, too. Yes, make time for yourself. Heck, I've told the kids to entertain themselves while I go take a long hot bath in a dark, quiet bathroom. It does wonders for the soul, and they don't mind the time to do whatever they want, either :-)

Hang in there - you can do it!