Wellness & The Single Parent
The task of parenting is monumental. Most households have two parents, many times housekeeping help and support in the form of nannies and babysitters. And the chores, house management and tasks are shared between two at times leaving both parents strapped for time.
So what are you to do when you are faced with parenting hands on alone? It is one of the most overwhelming missions one can undertake whether by choice or circumstantial changes and I know it all too well. Constant interruptions, toddler questions, unforeseen sick days and playtime can take their toll on a person when they are the only one available to meet all the needs of another on top of being a provider.
The days can seem long, and the chores never seem to end along with the “why is pink called pink” type questions. And its easy to lose your lightheartedness and energy to routine and pressure.
Being a single parent, I have placed a lot of value on my health and self-care. And it was something I had to train myself for and find support around. Very few women I have encountered have been raised with self-care as a top priority. Societal dictums have made women feel that they have roles to fulfill and when those roles are not fulfilled, we subsequently and maybe even subconsciously feel inadequate. We put extra pressure on ourselves to work more, earn more, clean more, cook more and make our child happier. And we give up more and more of ourselves to our parent identity or ego leaving us feeling a little resentful and sometimes just downright angry.
I learned early on in single parenthood that if my health and energy levels are not optimal, I was not going to be the parent I wanted to be for my family. I am going to share how I have managed to find more energy and find balance as a single- head of household- parent.
EAT FOR ENERGY
No its not sugar or caffeine that will give you energy, In fact it will deplete it. Eating for energy means eating clean whole foods that include grains like Quinoa. Lots of leafy greens like bokchoy and kale and fresh organic fruit. Drinking filtered water, skipping the alcohol (there is no worse pain than a hangover and a toddler in the same room…), fresh pressed juices and roots vegetables to keep you grounded. Beans and lean protein and healthy fats provide lasting energy. Skip the processed foods, simple carbs, sugars and sodas. These all tax your energy levels and immune function. Just eat real things and drink more water.
There is nothing that gives me more sustainable energy than physical movement. For me, this is crucial. No exercise no dopamine…and that applies to almost everyone not just the single parent. Incorporate your child if you feel inclined because by doing so, you are teaching them to do the same. To care for their health and physical body no matter what. I ran with my youngest one in a jogger winter spring summer and fall, taught baby and me yoga classes with her and its amazing to see her growing up with these things as a part of her life rather than something she will have to work herself into…like many of us have in adulthood. With my two older ones, I took them with me to gym that offered care and classes for them while I took classes and trained. Find what works for you. But don’t skimp on physical activity, You will need to keep up!
PRACTICE SELF CARE (& SELF LOVE)
Self-care comes in many forms. And for a single parent self care is not easy. We have limited hours in the day and I know that as a single parent every minute counts. Creating time for your personal care beyond grooming is one of the most vital steps you can take. Its not just about manicures and facials, self-care is being able to read a book, meditate, taking a bath, going to a support group or an evening out with friends. You owe it to yourself and your little person or people to be your best self, to feel good about yourself so that they can too mirror your behavior someday. Loving yourself is the biggest gift you can give your child. Your child needs you. The loving, relaxed and softer side of you. Not the stressed out, tired, overworked, sleep deprived you. Children are very intuitive, and they pick up on the energy and emotional state we project. By practicing self-care and self-love we fill our cup a little bit more and we have more to give from it…cant quench thirst from an empty cup.
Limited time and so much to accomplish! Not only your tasks but also being responsible for someone else and their needs and tasks is a lot to handle. And time slips away when you are constantly making snacks, doing laundry and giving love and attention to another being. Using a time management system helped me establish patterns and routines that would yield time for my self-care and professional & personal growth. How much time do you spend on social media? TV? Cleaning? Running errands? Is there something you can cut back on to find more time for yourself and relaxation? When I asked myself these questions, I was clear on cutting back on certain things and prioritizing my joy and wellbeing. Because an unhappy parent yields an unhappy child. A stressed-out parent who is always over scheduled can not be an energized joyous one.
Your kids and your situation are unique. Don’t judge yourself, don’t compare your present circumstances to those around you. The grass is always greener until you are on the other side. Everything that has been given to you is a gift, even the challenges. If you can operate from this perspective, you will learn more about yourself and you can learn to empower others through your experience. No matter how challenging your circumstances are and no matter how dark and lonely this journey can seem, YOU ARE CAPABLE OF CHOOSING HOW YOU FEEL. By making the choice daily and consistently to embrace the challenges we train ourselves to achieve our goals because we know there has to be light at the end of the tunnel. This too is something you want your child to learn. Feeling that you are enough, feeling grateful and joyful creates miracles in people’s lives. You cannot attract health, wellness and abundance when you don’t feel good about yourself and your circumstances and there is always something you can do to positively change what you are manifesting.
GET SUPPORT (and sleep) AND DITCH THE GUILT
This has been a challenge for me personally. Asking for help has not come easy. I work on it daily. Asking for help seems like I am losing control and when you navigate the world as a single parent feeling that you have control is important (although its an illusion because we are never really in control are we?).
Whether you need support with house chores, child care, picks ups…the answer will always be no unless you ask. And you are important enough to ask and deserving enough to receive. I have paid for childcare so I can sleep and recharge, I have hired a cleaning person so I can sit and watch a movie with my kids. I have sent the laundry out so I can give myself time to read or soak in the tub. Let go of guilt…your needs deserve as much attention as your child’s needs. And you are worthy of positive and healthy indulgences. Working with a life coach can help you get support and clarity in creating a plan that can advance you from where you are.
If you are a single parent I salute you, I know your struggles as they are mine.
To your success and your health!