Single-parent households are nothing new; yet for decades they were largely relegated to the strata of poor and minority women. Only twenty years ago nearly twenty percent (19.5%) of American households were headed by a single parent. By 2008 that number had increased to slightly below thirty percent (29.7%). Factors such as the intentional decision not to marry and the continuing higher trending divorce rates are contributing to the rise in one parent families. These days we’re hearing it with greater frequency, single-parenting is “the new norm”.
Overall, single mothers make up the majority; 80% of the 12.2 million single parent families are headed by single mothers. . According to the U.S. Census Bureau, today, 1 in 3 children – a total of 15 million – are being raised without a father in the home. Taking into account all the appurtenant financial obstacles of that group, nearly half live below the poverty line.
The hectic pace of life is cause for stress on everyone; for single-parents taking care of themselves by reducing the stress levels in their lives is critical to maintaining healthy families. Living in poverty is stressful. Carrying the lion’s share of the personal and financial responsibility for a family alone is stressful. Living in stress is not just detrimental to mental, emotional and physical health, it kills.
Creativity is the key
Most often, the first thing cut-out of a busy schedule is “me time”. It’s viewed as either too costly, too burdensome to get a babysitter or there’s simply not enough hours in the day. It’s so easy to make excuses, but to the contrary, for single parents it is imperative that caring for and giving themselves personal attention is done purposefully. Include among this group many unmarried Americans who do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed. “…unmarried people include those who were never married, widowed, or divorced” and would do well to heed the advice, as well.
Tapping into your creativity is a replenishing connection to your inner self. Giving yourself the opportunity for creative self-expression will stimulate greater clarity, a sense of well-being and of personal growth. A common complaint of single parents is a sense of loss of control in their world; creative expression helps provide that needed order and balance.
Children’s caregivers don’t always have to leave the house. Be creative in your thinking; look around to discover what's already in your hands. Venturing into your own creativity can be a great way to express yourself, show your children how to love and express themselves and let off some steam.
1. Write your life story: leave a legacy for your family and rediscover youthful dreams and hopes for yourself. You can prepare a biography as part of a geneology, for posterity or simply for the relaxation if offers.
2. Journaling is a wonderful way of preserving your thoughts, dreams and remembrances. Your journal can be just for you. A great technique is is to allow yourself to write stream-of-consciousness without concern for punctuation, spelling or capitalization. Just let pen meet the page. Three hand-written pages, no more, no less. Write your journal regularly, it can be a pathway to creativity and release.
3. Read a fiction book or short story that you can totally lose yourself in.
4. Try a new recipe: all creative endeavors do not occur on the page or the canvas. Find a new way to prepare an old favorite, spark-up leftovers or prepare a dish you would order at a restaurant. This can a personal time activity or a family-fun time.
5. Bake a scrumptious dessert just for you. Treat yourself. It's ok, you can enjoy some things in life. You can indulge yourself.
6. Re-read something that has been especially encouraging to you.
7. breathe deeply for five minutes: set the timer, close your eyes, and
Don’t make excuses – take time
There is time. A great deal of time is wasted and goes begging in everyday schedules. Time spent complaining about not having the time, attending to others’ needs when they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves and serving our children are hidden caches of energy and time consumption. Doing everything for your children may feel loving, however, allowing youngsters a greater measure of independence may make you a much better parent. Kids feel encouraged by showing that you trust them to do things for themselves and improve their self-esteem. Gifting yourself fifteen minutes or less can revolutionize your day and can be an ounce of prevention against future burn-out.
1. Write a letter: Take 15 minutes and write a personal note to a friend or relative. It gives you a break, takes your mind off all the things that seem so critical day-to-day and someone will get a break from the usual bills in the mail. Writing longhand in favor of tapping on the keyboard cuts-down on distraction, improves your handwriting and keeps your mind sharp at any age.
2. Get up earlier so you can linger over a cup of coffee or tea. Give yourself a slow start . Just 15 minutes in the morning of quiet time can ease you into your day. For moms, the day goes from zero to 60 in 60 seconds, the moment you put your feet on the floor. The morning rush of getting kids up, dressed and out of the door is a rude awakening.
3. Daily devotional: Develop a spiritual connection to clear your mind, receive insight and inspiration and a calm start to the business that is to come. Before the hustle and bustle of your day kicks-off, start your day in fifteen minutes of prayer. .
4. Daydream: take a break from your current financial scenario. Just 12 minutes of fantasy is fun and it doesn't cost a thing. What would you do if you had a million dollars? Where would you live if you could live anywhere? What changes would you make if you no longer had to work? It’s fun, creative and a source of fertile mind matter that allows you to see inventive new possibilities, dream-up new ways of doing things, new uses for items you already have and new solutions to problems.
Anyone will become down about their condition and out-of-sorts if you just sit around and lament. Get-up off the couch and move. Set a time of day that you will exercise. Even stretching is soothing to your muscles and makes you feel more cared-for. Get an exercise or yoga DVD. Invite the children into your routine. Remember, they are experiencing the same types of stresses as the adults. Take a long walk. Walking is good all-over body exercise and works to clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective. When you visit the local park or playground, swing, slide and run along with the kids. Remember the magic of childhood; give yourself permission to play. Even housecleaning, though a necessary evil, can relieve stress
No time like the present
Start today. Recharge your battery, feel stronger and more resilient and better able to cope. Some things are still free and most meaningful to your family life. Get in the habit of hugging your children a little tighter, a little longer. Kiss them ten times per day. Sit outside and watch the sunset, listen to soothing music or take five minutes to close your eyes, shut-out the world and breathe.
Parenting is a 24-hour job with change the name of the game. It only takes a few minutes to give yourself the gift of hope for a better today and a brighter tomorrow.