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As I single mother, for the past 20 years, I want to give some encouragement to my co-single parents out there. It’s never easy, you don’t get vacation or sick time, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or frustrated when much–or all–of raising your children falls on you.

I have two boys, my oldest is 19, and my youngest is climbing around in my lap right now: my one year old son. Although I have been a single parent, without their fathers’ support or involvement, I have experienced so many amazing moments and rewards for all of my time and effort. This is not to say that things are easy, and that single parenting is the way to go, but if you find yourself with lemons, you make lemonade, right? ?

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Here are 3 tools for single parents:

1. Do the best you can and be satisfied that it’s enough for your kids. 

You are likely limited in resources, time, and energy. Caring for children is a huge job! Add working or attending school, along with other life obligations, and it’s easy to feel like you’re losing your mind. Do your best to find a healthy life balance while juggling all the pieces of your life. Do not allow others to bring you down with their comments, opinions, suggestions, and criticisms. Take it all with an open mind and continue to do your best each day to care for your family. Then, be satisfied with that, confident that you are a fabulous parent and individual.

2. Let the village help. 

Allow the village to help and support you. The people around you who love and care for you will show the same love toward your children. You are not alone, even if it feels like it. Relatives, friends, church families, even some co-workers can be excellent resources and may have even walked in your shoes as a single parent themselves. Ask for their help when you need it, allow them to watch the kids when you need a break, and lean on their support to help you see the challenges with a hopeful perspective. They aren’t raising your children for you, they are necessary supportive sources so that you can be the best parent you can be.

3. Do not stop chasing after your goals and taking care of yourself. 

This is important. Being a single parent can be so consuming that we tend to forget about our lives and dreams. Of course our kids are our priority, but if we are not doing well emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, then we cannot give them our best. Continue to make life goals and pursue them. Use your village to help you with caring for the kids so that you can reach your goals, whatever they are. Your kids need to see you living a productive, positive, and successful life. Making your goals a reality is a great way to be a positive role model for your family.

Taking care of yourself is even more important than anything I’ve mentioned. You have to get proper sleep, maintain a reasonably healthy diet, get some exercise, and monitor your emotional health. Single parenting often results in forgetting that we are human beings in need of care too. It’s easy to get so caught up in just making it through each day that we only eat one meal, forget to drink adequate amounts of water, and skip exercise altogether. We forget all of these things and more while we are running on vapors of sleep. Then the cycle become relentless and we spiral into frustration, feel overwhelmed, and can even become resentful of our single parent status.

Special circumstances: 

If you are parenting alone, without the other parent, the above mentioned tools are even more critical to apply to your life. My situation should not be the norm, and I am not an advocate for “zero” presence of the other parent. So, if the other parent is active in your children’s lives, this is great! You can still practice the tools provided in this article while continuing to co-parent in a way that is healthy for the entire family. Co-parenting can work out beautifully if both parents are willing to compromise, communicate, and collaborate for the best needs of the children, and the adults. Please do not dismiss the importance of both parents being present in your children’s lives. If you are in a healthy co-parenting situation, do all you can to embrace it and celebrate it with your kids. It may not be easy, even outright difficult at times, but it’s necessary for the entire family.

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Single parents can do this! You can be a great parent while seeking the life balance and goals you desire! Will everyday be easy? No! But with determination and effort you can think positively about this experience and enjoy your children, family, and life! You will reap so many rewards from staying positive through the parenting challenges by continuing to do your best!

Are there other tools that have helped you as a single parent? Anything I missed?