Totally Single Parenting
by Meg Brown
Single Mothers by Choice: Can we call this *extremely* conscious parenting?
The other night, I accompanied my younger son to the end-of-season pizza
party for his basketball team. In attendance were eight fourth-grade boys, one younger brother, seven fathers and me.
first, I felt a little awkward. Then, I remembered all the corporate meetings that I’ve attended over the years, where
I was pretty much in the same situation. Once we get beyond the golf talk, these events usually go pretty well.
not so bad, being the center of attention. On occasion.
Still, it is symptomatic of being a totally single parent.
By that I mean, there is no current or former husband around for co-parenting duty. I adopted my children as a single mother
and single I have remained.
As with most things, there are good and bad elements. I get to make all the big and small
family decisions without negotiations or arguments. There is no partner to depend upon and therefore no frustration to deal
with when parent number two fails to live up to expectations.
My children have never hidden in their bedrooms, listening
to their parents yell at each other.
I also get to do all the fun things with my sons, like playing catch in the backyard
(yes, I throw like a girl), or going indoor skydiving.
Some days, though, being a totally single parent is really,
really hard. Like Saturday, when my older son took a kick to the head in his final basketball game, developed a debilitating
headache and vomited a couple hours later.
Diagnosing a possible concussion over the phone with the doctor’s
office is not fun, period. Worrying about a possible concussion, all by yourself, is worse.
By the way, is
there a universal law proclaiming that all serious injuries only happen after office hours or on weekends? What’s up
The good news is, my son is doing fine. He’s still a little dumb from all the hormones running
amok in his growing eleven-year-old body, but he seems to be functioning pretty much the same as he did before the basketball
game / head injury.
Yippee. This is exactly what I signed up for.
I knew going into this that there would
be hard, scary, crazy days. I also knew, deep down, that parenting would be the most incredibly rewarding thing I would ever
do in my life.
I was as prepared as one can be... if one can ever be truly prepared to jump off a cliff.
the oldest of nine children and had done my share of babysitting, starting somewhere around the age of four. Okay, maybe twelve.
read about a hundred books on adoption and parenting. I’d taken twenty hours of training with the Department of Social
Services, designed to scare you away, if possible or necessary. I’d completed an exhaustive home study.
waited, for what seemed like forever.
If conscious parenting starts with being present and thinking carefully about your parenting
decisions, I guess I qualify.
What I didn’t realize, when I started this journey (eight years ago), was that
I was joining a social trend: That of older (30’s and 40’s), college-educated, unmarried professional women
building families on their own.
In a recent piece, the New York Times reported that the birthrate for this group has climbed 145 percent
since 1980. Other unmarried women (like me) adopt about 13,000 children each year from the U.S. child-welfare system –
this in addition to thousands of private and international adoptions.1
We are called “single mothers by choice,” and I guess that’s accurate. Still, it puts a huge
emphasis on the whole single thing, when I know that my focus has been much more on the parenting thing.
trying to make some political statement when I started my family; I was simply following my heart... which told me it was
time to become a mother.
I chose to become a single parent because: 1) I was single and, 2) I felt a deep need
in my heart to share my love with a child (or two); 3) I knew that I had a good, strong home and family to offer to this child
(children); and 4) I knew that together, we could build a family that would bring more love to this planet.
I suspect, is why married people choose to become parents as well (except for the being single part.)
to believe that being a mother – or father – is a vocation. Some are called, some are not. Either way is okay.
If you are called to be a parent and happen to be single, I can only say go for it.
Build your support network
and then double it. Prepare, but know that you can never be totally prepared. Get ready for the most amazing, awe-inspiring,
frightening, thrilling and grace-filled experience of your life.
If you are married and feel called to be a parent,
Blessings and Happy Parenting!
Bazelon, Emily, 2 Kids + 0 Husbands = Family
, The New York Times (February 1, 2009).Read more:
If you would like to read more on this topic, here
are a couple good options:Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family
, by Rosanna Hertz.Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood
, by Jane Mattes.
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Work-Life Balance – 5 Tips on How to Be an Excellent Single Parenting All-Rounder!
by Jennifer Broadley
1. Know What You Want
The first step towards getting what
you want, is knowing what you want. I decided very early on that my business was going to support my time with my daughter
and not suck away these valuable years with me at work while she was with carers.
Even in my salaried job (when my
daughter was a baby) I was very strict about working 9 – 5pm and not a minute later. It took a bit of time to un-learn
my old work-late habits and for my boss and colleagues to adjust their expectations about what and when I was able to deliver
as part of my remit.
When you can get clear in your head about what’s going to work for you and believe it genuinely,
then that sincerity will come across in your negotiations and you’re going to get the best results. Get clear about
the benefits of why you want a great work-life balance and get clear of the benefits for the other people who will influence
2. Prioritise Family Time
It’s easy to let minutes turn into hours and hours turn into chunks
of time that keep you away from home until way passed the children’s bed times. It’s a slippery slope. Practice
raising your productivity during the day – don’t stop to chat, don’t ‘facebook’ or ‘youtube’,
don’t mess around with your personal emails. Work at work. Leave on time. Get home promptly. Children thrive on routine
and will thank you (when they’re 50!) for being there for them on a regular basis. Remember, work-life balance includes
a bit of everything; earning, playing, bonding, studying, health, fitness, dreaming, growing … and sleeping!
Allow An Hour For Home Management Each Evening
When my daughter’s gone to bed it’s my time to check that the
laundry’s up-to-date, there’s food prepared for the next day, the kitchen’s cleaned up, the bathroom’s
tidy and any school correspondence, play dates or diary-planning is done.
Now this doesn’t take an hour every
day, but I allow that time to make sure that I’m on top of my home life. If I can allocate specific time like this it
means that my personal life can be kept separate to my work life, which means I can get home on time and be totally focused
on my daughter from 6-8pm every day.
4. Ask For Support
If you’re working part time or full time, managing
a home and caring for and encouraging your children single handedly, I already know that you deserve a sainthood!!
that to balance these things well over time is an art. It takes a clear head, it takes good health and it takes lots of energy
and drive. Ask for help when you need it – if it’s a babysitter so you can have a night out, a friend to come
over and cook one night a week, a family member to drive one of the kids to karate, or a colleague to take on some extra projects
at work to keep you from tipping into overwhelm – whatever it is, ask, ask, ask!
Asking for support is not a
failing, it’s the practical application of wisdom. Your children rely on you to be at your best. True saints practice
5. Be Open With Your Children
It takes a lot to learn the balance of sharing with and shielding from our
children. Age-appropriate conversations, when you need to have them can be a life saver. I remember discussing with my then
2-year old that it was really hard for me to be getting up in the middle of the night when she called. ‘If you’re
scared then call. If you just want someone to be here to lie with you, don’t call. When you have 2 more sleeps in the
day time, mummy is working very hard to get everything done so that I can get home for us to have fun before bath time, story
time and bedtime’. It worked.
What also worked at 5-years old was the conversation about the consequences of
me not going to work. We talked through that the knock-on effects of this would be no money coming into our household, the
possibility of changing homes, how we eat and what we wear, stopping holidays, and maybe even changing some of our friendships.
conversations aren’t about laying huge burdens on our children. They are about asking them gradually and bit-by-bit
to share a greater amount of responsibility for contributing to the smooth running of the household. Review the distribution
of responsibility regularly as your children get older. This is not just about your work-life balance. It’s about your
children’s too. And they’ll thank you for it in the end!
Jennifer Broadley is a qualified executive coach and the founder of SuccessfulSingleParenting.
For more information and a FR*EE Special Report “ The 5 Secrets for Successful Single Parenting” visit: www.SuccessfulSingleParenting.com