Being a sole parent is hard work! Many sole parents find themselves in a position that is beyond understanding to another, unless they are or have been in a similar situation, i.e., raising children alone as well as being sole provider, physically, financially, emotionally and mentally.
Looking after dependents, holding down a job in order to provide for your single-income-family, you have already taken on the duties of what should fall on both parents. Finding yourself in a position where you have to play dual roles in the absence of the other biological parent –whether completely or partially absent, is least to say, challenging!
You find yourself placed in a position to be your own emotional support, sole decision maker, financial provider, financial planner, cleaner, cook, transporter, housekeeper. If the children are up through the night, so are you – but you still get up and go to work and do everything that needs to be done within that day! In addition to all these roles, you are having to keep up with the bills, household paperwork, you are literally on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 352 days a year.
In addition to this heavy load, you may also be dealing with the trauma of separation from your other significant. Whether the breakdown was caused by loss, infidelity, abuse (physical, mental, emotional) or manipulation, the common denominator is that it caused pain, mostly indescribable. You may often experience feelings of public humiliation and judgment. You may find yourself exhausted beyond what many can understand or comprehend.
How many times have thoughts run through your mind of: “I’m so hurt, I can’t put my pain in words…” or “no-one understands what I’m going through” or “no-one really cares even if I did share…”
The pain of separation can be unbearable, the pain unthinkable. No-one is prepared for separation. You don’t enter into a relationship, make a commitment and imagine things won’t work out. You don’t pre-plan or prepare yourself, expecting that the one that made vows and committed to the relationship, can just walk away, yet, it happens all too often.
Pain and hurt that is not dealt with can translate onto your children. It is important that you are healed from all pain/trauma/hurt/rejection that you have experienced. If you have feelings of anger, rage, anxiety, fear, rejection, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, that life is over, you need healing, not just any healing, you need God’s divine healing.
MANAGING THE HEAVY LOAD
It is important that you surround yourself with good company, people that can play a positive role in your children’s lives. People that are trustworthy and have a consistent track record. It is easy to become weary and worn-out, which makes it even more important to ensure you are receiving sufficient rest. In order to function well as a single parent, you need to look after yourself – one of the easiest things to dismiss.
You must make efforts to eat healthy, exercise, ensure you are getting adequate rest. You must set time aside to look after yourself, i.e., allow yourself to rest. You may question how this is possible without resources to give you ‘time-out’ with no time. One way could be to have the children in a routine, bed by 8PM, so that between 8-9, you can enjoy a book or do something that you find relaxing, to wind yourself down from the business of the day.
Routine can make life easier. Have a financial plan/budget, a weekly set menu, frozen meals for those times you have no time to cook. It is important to have goals in place, working towards a vision.
Despite you finding yourself in a challenging position, it is important to keep pressing forward. What is it you’re passionate about? Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years from now? Why not create a vision-board. Perhaps you see yourself career-driven, maybe your desire is to re-marry – great! What studies are required to progress toward your vision? What areas in your life do you need to work on to be a great future partner? Set goals toward your vision. This may require better time-management.