How do you do it as a single parent?

Serene - posted on 06/03/2011 ( 27 moms have responded )

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I just moved into an apartment with my 2 young children by ourselves. I have moved 45 minutes away from the person that helped me out all of the time with them. I love my children so much and they mean the world to me, but sometimes they stress me out. My 3 year old wants to do everything on his own and when he procasternates and I am in a hurry to go somewhere, I'll do it for him and he throws a tantrum... I get so frusterated and annoyed with the tantrums i almost break down into tears.....
I feel overwhelmed all of the time and to make matters worse I can't find a job here. I have filled out applications for employment and got no results, if I do get an interview i crack up or mess up because I am so nervous. After the interview I think to myself I should of done this or that. Now I feel horrible that I am receiving assistance from the state, I hate it but, I am trying my hardest to find employment that will get me off of assistance and has room for an advancement. I have to do volunteer work for a housing authority and I love it so much that I do more hours then I am required to do. This kind of keeps me away from job hunting, :-( I have quit smoking a couple of months ago and now I am back at doing it. I am kicking my self in the ass for that one, I can't afford it. I feel like my life is going downhill and i am becoming depressed.
I could go on and on but, I was wondering how do you ladies cope with stress? I have friends that has never been in my sitution tells me that its going to get better.... NO I don't think so. What do you do to deal with your kids, jobless and stress? Please i need any advice. :-) Thanks

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Shelly - posted on 06/06/2011

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Key word, you do it for him?? You are the adult and he needs to be shown his place in a Motherly way best as possible without hitting him. Its very hard but the tantrums should not be tolerated or given one ounce of your attention. He/She is throwing a tantrum because you respond. They have figured out its a way to get your attention. Leave them laying & screaming where ever they are, & if in public pick up and take out of public and sit and wait until they calm but ignore the behavior. Once they are calm then tune in to what their needs are, never add fuel to the fire. If they know you are going to respond, expect tantrums to continue. As for getting help everyone needs help and you have to do what you have to do in order to survive even if not conventional if you catch my drift. You can quite smoking again but don't let smoking be the vice that you need to get you through. Breathe, get in your closet & pray, yes I said closet. When they are sleep, pray & go to sleep. THis single parent thing is a job in itself & our kids ironically are the boss, but the reality is, you have to keep them in their place. I mean we do work for our lifestyles and kids but that is part of parenting. So because you work, when time to yourself write down goals and needs and save the wants for last. We all have to meet our needs first. I am taking my own advice, but I understand your frustration but by all means and for God's sake, never take it out on the kids. Remember, they didn;t ask to be here and should never be treated as anything other than a gift. Especially at the age yours are, and if any consolation to you, be thankful, I know ppl with teenagers, who are smoking, stealing, taking drugs, staying away for days at a time, whatever you can think of. One of them finally stopped her non sense but it was work and my friend sat her daughter down& told her she loved her no matter how much she upsets her, she still and always will love her, she wanted to be her best resource, friend, whatever she needed. There was more, she did more with her as a family, her & daughter. Anyway she ended her school yr recently on honor roll and is working and doing normal teen age girl stuff. Hang on to your support system, even if it ends up being yourself. We all can trade war scars and stories but remember the people you encounter at the Housing Authority, at stores, etc may have worst going on in their lives but you have to keep going, keep hoping & never stop praying. This too shall pass!

Rhiannon - posted on 06/04/2011

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only advise I can think to give is be over organised... at least until it becomes easier.

As soon as your son wakes make him get ready for the day, everyday. No time to just sit around, no tv. once he is dressed for the day then there will be rewards for him.

Job... well this will come when you can organize your home life, when you feel stressed you will find it hard to 'fit' anything in.

Last piece, don't let your support people go, you need them.

smile everyday, no matter how bad it gets.....

Jurnee - posted on 06/03/2011

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It Does get better Serene. I've raised 4 children mostly by myself. They are now 26,23, 18 and 8. And there were times when I did not know how I would get through the day, but I did. My life is still stressful, I try to have some me time, even if its just a phone call to a friend when the kids are asleep. Volunteering is great, it will ultimately help you in your job search. Plus its a little time away from the kids, and you do need that. Toddlers are trying, but I always tried to keep a sense of humor about things, if you change your perspective it helps. Being a single mom is not easy, but it is rewarding. Those times I felt, and sometimes still do feel that I cant go on or do anymore, I try to take a bit of time for myself, even if its just a shower,lol, and remember that I am blessed with these children. I struggled financially for many years, still do sometimes, but I have learned through the years that our time is the most precious gift we give our children. You keep persevering and believing in yourself and your children, surround yourself with people who feel the same, and things will get better. The most important thing I've learned abut life,is that it goes on, and you can count your blessing or your sorrows.I used to stress over every thing that was wrong, but I learned to appreciate the smallest of gifts, and to try to enjoy this ride, bumpy as it may be. Good luck to you in all your endeavors!

Clare - posted on 06/13/2011

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I am in the same situation although I only have one child. It is incredibly hard to find a job at the moment. I wouldnt try to give up smoking at the moment if you are so stressed although I know its costing you money you dont have cos I smoke too and am on benefits. I f you feel depressed you should see your doctor and see if you can get anti-depressants for the time-being. I find Bach Rescue Remedy is really good for stress.You can get it from the chemist.It is about £8 but a bottle lasts ages and you can have some before interviews to calm you down.
You should try to make friends with a mum up the school who might be able to babysit for you sometimes to give you a break. I also find that exercise is really good for stress and does make you feel less down. Try to do any exercise you can even in the house.
I hope you start to feel better soon and wish you all the best. Let me know how you get on x

Cindy - posted on 06/09/2011

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I used to ask myself (and everyone else) that question all the time! My daughter is 3 now and I've been a single mom since she was 8 months old. I don't know that's it's gotten "better" - I think I've just gotten stronger, and smarter, and quicker. :-) In other words, I use all the tricks I can think of to cope with the never-ending challenges.
I have 5 favorite tricks that I use when I find myself getting frustrated. I've picked them up from reading (books, magazines, sites, forums, etc) and talking to friends and other moms. Maybe some might work for you.
First (1) and most important - when you get past frustrated to angry... take -2- breaths. Try to make the first a deep cleansing breath, but even just a loud, abrupt, Pffff pushed out between your lips will do. Then take a second one through your nose. This takes only a second, but most of the time I find it helps release most of my pent-up frustration in those two short noisy breaths, rather than directly at my daughter.
Like yours, my 3yr old wants to get completely dressed and undressed by herself, but sometimes I'm in a rush and can feel myself getting frustrated, but if I try to help she'll be upset/ pout/ cry/ have a tantrum/ etc.. which will only make things take longer! At this point, if I'm not dressed (or undressed) yet, (2) I'll call a race between us to see who will be fastest.
Or, (3) I'll burst out into song - something silly and spontaneous about Dora (her fave) getting dressed.(or having a bath or picking toys up or whatever..)
Or, (4) I'll ask her a question and give her a choice to make: Do you want to put on your shirt or your pants first? Will you wear the blue shirt or the yellow shirt?
Sometimes, (5) reverse psychology is the winning trick - I tell her NOT to get dressed, that I absolutely do not want her to get dressed under any circumstances, that she should probably never get dressed again.. (you get the idea..)

If nothing is working, and I've run out of tricks, then I take a step back. I remind myself that I shouldn't take it personally, and my job as a parent is to guide her, not control her. So I turn my attention to another task that I wouldn't otherwise have taken 30 or 60 seconds for - like brushing my hair, putting on lipstick or earrings, or flossing my teeth.. lol After a minute I go back to her and sometimes she'll have gotten herself completely dressed by the time I come back. She just wanted me to back off so she could do it without me pressuring her - and the smile on her face makes me realize that one more minute was worth it - even if we're already late. Other times she's exactly where I left her, so I ask her a couple of questions, and go through my tricks again, and something usually clicks along the way.

But.. sometimes.. there are moments when we really just don't have the time for her to make as many decisions, and she rebels and cries, but as her mom, I still set the rules and boundaries, and I ultimately call the shots. It's not easy, I cry sometimes too, I feel guilty, I feel like I should be doing better somehow...

But, in general.. since I figured out my system of tricks, I feel more *prepared* to deal with my daughter's spontaneous moments of rebellion and independence -- which translates into less overall stress for me. The challenge, of course, is developing new tricks as she gets older and smarter!

One day at a time.. :-)
{hugs!}

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27 Comments

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Racquele - posted on 12/11/2013

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Like Andrea, I too am a university student who is working while being the sole wage earner in our family. I am crying as I write this, but I just remember that we are a huge inspiration to ourselves, our children, and other struggling single moms out there. I have no money in my bank account but i am spiritually wealthy, I will survive and you will too. good luck!!!!!!

Jennylynn - posted on 03/27/2013

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there is no book 101 of how to be a single parent. I have been one from the time my little girl was born at the age of 21. on top of that I have my little sister oldest girl who i have had from the time she was 6 months old and now i have a soon to be three year old boy of hers.
It's hard as hell and you can get worn out fast from it. hell you get worn out from everything not just the fact that your a single mother, but because you are having a hard time finding a job. things will pile up on you and even the smallest thing can make you cry or feel like giving up. i have been there and still now i feel like i am going under fast, but whenever i feel that way. All i have to do is look at these three kids i am blessed with and ask them for a hug and i know for them i have to pick it back up and never give up.
we are a strong breed of woman girl. single mother have it hard and it never get's easy over time. it gets harder as the years fly by. how ever we as single mother's get just as hard and stronger and everything that we go throw for our kids. will be past down to them and they will lead a better life and one day. hold our hands and thank us for being there for them, caring, loving and supporting them throw out there life.
we know its a hard rode on us, but it is also a hard road for our kids to. they just have us after all and we are there rock, there hope, there supporter, there world right now. what they dont get is that they are ever bit of that and more to us. thats why we do it and we love it all the way. keep faith girl no matter what keep faith and god will see you throw it all. along with your kids.

Rebecca - posted on 03/03/2013

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My daughter is graduating in May and I would love to b small to fit into a nice dress. Please help.

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Hope ur btr now.... Many of us r in te same situation.... Many will talk and comment nonsense but i honestly hope alls well w u and ur kiddies! BELIEVE FAITH LOVE! xoxox

Lindah Diane - posted on 08/22/2012

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Hi Serene,how r you?i have read your story n it is very sad what your going through.i am also a single mum of one kid.i was in the same situation as u a year ago but things worked out for me somehow.kids can be stressful especially when u have to take care of them yourself,but what i want to advice you is that i need you to start thinking positively,believe in yourself and have alot of faith that things are going to work out.when you go for those interviews you must start being confidence and show the person that is interviewing u that u deserve the job and you can do it.If u continue feeling sorry for yourself things are going to continue being hard and your kids will end up suffering and am very sure that is not what you want for them.

Amanda - posted on 09/17/2011

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I feel the same way I am a single mom with one child. I don't get any child support and the father is a register sex offender and my family is to busy for me. also I have a fulltime job which I can't afford to loose, but also i have to take her to appointments and have no one able to take her. I am still confused on how am I going to do that. and what happens if she get's sick or I get sick who gonna pay my bills I have to have my 40 hours a week in. And now the hoildays are coming how am I going to do that with all the other stuff I have to pay for. I cry mostly everday cuz I feel alone and hopeless. so I know how you feel sorry I really don't know what to do cuz I haven't find away to do it myself

La Vonta - posted on 09/13/2011

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Serene...I know how u must feel I have three children 18, 15, and 7..and I've beenout of work since 2009...u have to find outlets for your self to unwind...like a soothing bath with some scented oil....play soft music while in the tub and even light a candle...those are the things I do ..and it works...

The stress of being a mother to younger kids can be difficult especially for single mothers as ourselves but it will get better...you may need to look for other women close to you and make a friend so that u can have some one close to u to give u time out for yourself...looking for a job is diffiult for everyone...so good luck withthat but u can go to ur housing office and see if they have any jobs available that u can do....maybe somone needs a babysitter where you could do it out of your home for a small fee...I know DES used to offer classes for people to get licensed through the state to offer daycare services...that would allow u to be at home with our kids and make a living....

Keep your head up.....this too shall pass...in regads to your smoking it is hard to give up smoking when u're under so much stress...try the gum and see if you can stop that way, the cost of cigarettes can become a issue as well...again remember you are not alone...and remember to pray ...pray some more and pray again...

FYI: ask your housing office if they would let you post an ad to do some babysitting it might get you enough to get off of assistance...or give u some relief knowing you're making some income....Best of luck....

Nicola - posted on 06/14/2011

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I am incredibly compassionate to what you have written. I too, feel hopeless in a situation similar to yours. 

In relation to coping, I honestly don't feel like I am. It's difficult when life throws daily disfunctions, but strategies do help.

I try and focus on the now.
For me, I TRY to start the day providing my children and myself with routine and a calming atmosphere.

At times I'd like to fall apart, but I feel better when I'm organized, so my phone beeps at me and reminds me of tomorrows events which helps, so that I can manage time.

Trying to find peace, I have put my phone dock in the kitchen so that when I wash up, cook, make lunches etc.. Singing and maybe a bit of dancing lifts the spirits.. A glass of vino is nice too :)

My 2 year old is becoming more independant, I'm learning to choose my battles with him. 

Patience exhausts me sometimes, but other times it helps...it taught me to give him the car keys to unlock the car door.
He now feels satisfied that hes helped, and happily gets into his car seat, as opposed to having a tantrum and running away from me...to which I have been known to race up the street in my heels after him.

My daughter has her desk next to mine, so we chat as she does her homework and I work.

I know these are small and maybe insignificant strategies, but I find that they are helping me and my 3 children recover from the past and also to bond together, while we rebuild our lives.

Have to start somewhere ?!?

Meg - posted on 06/14/2011

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I have been a single mom since I found out I was pregnant. My daughter is now 16 months old. I have received state assistance and let me tell u that if u are a good citizen and pay ur taxes that's one of the entitlements u get when u need it the most. I too was having job issues along with daycare issues. There were many times I cried myself to sleep and just broke down. It has been a long time but I have become the mom I need ad always wanted to be because I have gone through all this. It def will get better. Hold on strong to ur children and the joys they give u because that's what keeps u going. :)

Terralyn - posted on 06/14/2011

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I understand how you feel, my 3 were 1, 3 and 5 when I became a single mom and there will be times when you don't think you can make it through the day. Remember that the detemination to do things for him self will be a huge blessing when your son gets a little older. Try having him get ready for outings much earlier than is necessary to give him time to do it himself, it will be less stressful for you. Trust me my daughter was like that and her brother has down syndrome so trying to help him and fight with her to get ready at the same time was a big battle until i started having her get ready earlier than was necessary which gave her the time to get ready and we got out the door iwth relative ease. The best advice I can give is hang in there, love your children, they may drive you nuts but they will keep you sane and most of all remember you are not alone. Keep your chin up it does get much better! Mine are now 14, 16 and 18, they are strong independent people and they are my pride and joy.You can do it.

Susan - posted on 06/13/2011

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I have been there. When I moved back to OH from NC it took me a year and a half to find a full time job. There were MANY days I felt exactly the same way. You just have to take a deep breath (and lock yourself in the bathroom and cry when necessary). Do little things for yourself to relax whenever possible. Even if its a bubble bath at midnight because that's the only time you have alone. Things will get better! Don't give up! I have been a single mom since 2004. I have hit rock bottom more than once in the last 7 years. Chin up. And remember..... It will get better!!!!

Amanda - posted on 06/13/2011

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I left my husband 4yrs ago no job no money, I did it for my kid at the time a couple yrs later I thought I fell in love with an old friend come to find out when we were pregnant with my twins he left so now a 7yr old and twin 1yr olds I also hsve spinal stenosis, fibromyslgja anxiety and a crap load of othrr illnesses, my kids are what keep me going, no child support, can't pay the rent and no time off as well as homeschooling, I do what I can and keep my chin up, yez I cry ALOT but my kids and faith keep me going, I hope this helps anyone u can message me anytime

Kim - posted on 06/13/2011

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Hi Serene, Ive been a single Mom since my early twenties. I remember feeling ovewhelmed and ready to give up on several thousand occasions. What I have figured out now is that things appen for a reason. I know it totally sucks that you have to go through the BS but it will make you stronger in the long run. As far as stress goes, the only thing that really makes me feel better and not to mention look better, is exercise and fresh air. Make a list of things that you enjoy in life and make them a routine even if you are pressed for time. Good Luck! Kim M.

Jolene - posted on 06/13/2011

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First of all, if you feel like bursting into tears, do it! You'd be suprised at the reaction of you kids. They feel your frustration & act it out. If you allow yourself to feel your feelings, they will be more willing to cooperate. I'm a single mom & I get overwhelmed too. I get a lot of help from church & women's bible studies. I suggest getting into a good bible based church, pray for God to help you. He knows & feels your frustration. He is waiting for your prayers. I also recommend enrolling in school. You can live off student loans until you're done & can have a job you love with good pay. Pray Pray Pray & don't stop! Push through your fears & set backs. If you throw in the towel, the devil has you where he wants you.

Elisa - posted on 06/13/2011

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Things will get better. I was raising my 4 children by myself for well over 3 years on my own. Some words of advice is take a timeout once in a while. Step out of the room from time to time and breathe deep.
When you have places to go, start getting ready ahead of time, this will help. I had the habit of waiting til the last minute to get ready, and then dealing with a child that wanted to do things on their own. It just doesn't work.
Work, I wish you luck with that. Make friends in the area, get to know people. They may help you out in finding work. You can't give up. Maybe go back to school? I did. You have the option of taking online classes. From there you never know what you will be able to do.
In the end, just don't give up, things will work out. Stuff happens for a reason.

Roxanne - posted on 06/12/2011

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1st thing I want to say is this..take couple of deep breathe,slowly but the biggest thing i want to say to you is this: give yourself a break. You are doing a wonderful job and never forget that. i'm a mother of three,(14,10,2) and i have been a single mum since day one. It will get easier, you will look back one day and see what a strong woman you were and what an awesome mum you are. what i did with my oldest two was from the start get a routine,plan ahead. make just about all the things they want to do or you want them to do a game..children love to win and try new things..my 2yr old loves to pick up her toys,while we sing the clean up song. i am always afraid of being late(ocd) so all my clocks are 20min fast..which allows built in time for them just about everything. when they were younger, i did a chart..which showed their daily schedules. we also share another thing in common, i too am unemployed, it's really hard out there right now, so what i do is network,network,network, it's really a numbers game..have faith in u and when it came time to interview, i would practice before hand,research about the company. I also send out thank you letters right after the interview. there is so much i can say, if you ever need any type of support please inbox me..i will keep you and your family in my prayers

MAUREEN - posted on 06/11/2011

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NEVER, NEVER, Let your children, no matter how old they are, have that much power over you!!!! You are the one in authority. They should never make you cry or feel like crying. Children are just that - CHILDREN!!! Their minds are not fully developed so they're mot responsible beings. If you lose control, and they have it, you will never get it back. What you do need is a support system. Family or friends who can trust, to give you some time away from the kids so you can calm down and make a plan. Can this same person who is 45 mins away, still help you out? The 3 yr. old is not to old to train or too young to discipline. Stop giving him everything he wants! If your not into spanking when they have a tantrum, put on some headphones and leave him right there with his tanturm, keeping him in sight let him "fit" it right out!!! Seek some help or guidance at a local church with a daycare center & counseling. zero in on your passion for the kind of job you seek!!! Ask someone in authority if there is a paying position in the job you love. Cause Babies are going to need a New pair of shoes!!! Bless you and I would love to know if you take this advice, how you are making out!!! sincerly, MIn. Maureen

Deborah - posted on 06/10/2011

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I must honestly say that my daughter is 5yrs old and I'm still trying to figure out when it'll start to get better.It's not a simple situation or have a simple solution but you have it in you to survive, to overcome, to prosper and to be all tha you can be. You may feel like you've reached your breaking point but know this, you won't shatter. Heck if a a newborn can be squished out of a 10cm passage way then you can definitely come through this.

Bryndís - posted on 06/07/2011

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Your friend is telling the truth :) It does get better :) WHen i got stressed, i called my mom. And i found Jesus, he also helps alot :) I really hope you find a way to cope with everything. And remember, don't raise your voice to your children, it only makes things worse. They get stressed and than you have lost the battle ;) And you can be sure, it will get better :)

Brittney - posted on 06/06/2011

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Anything is possible, in the last year I have become a single mom of 3. At the time I wasn't working, yet I stuck with what I knew needed to be done and I stayed strong and did it. Times are still extremely tough, which does cause a lot of stress. Just try and keep your head up it does get easier. As far as getting help from the state, appreciate the help for now and just continue to stick to your goal of doing it on your own. This is what I have to do. But above all get a little bit of me time everyday just so you know and remember that you are important too. I really hope that things work out good for you in the end.

Rachel - posted on 06/06/2011

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I am so sorry you are feeling down- I only have one child at 19 months but I have done everything on my own so far and been through most of the things you mentioned- I had a full time job but doing that and being a single
mum was too much so, much against my will, I now only work three days a week. I receive benefits and housing benefits to make up the rest and the government covers my childcare costs. I feel so ashamed claiming help but at the end of the day- I have worked all my life, never claimed dole, always paid tax and I am doing my best. You say you are looking for work and doing volunteer work? You should be congratulating yourself for that- your not taking and giving nothing back like a lot of people do. The smoking- I smoked and struggled with money for
months- finally I realised it was silly saying I had no money when I smoked. However smoking was my one 'chill out' thing I had left in my life! I am now four weeks smoke free using patches and lozenges. Since then I have a little extra money. I find having a very strict routine helps with my son. It is a little restricting sometimes but he is a lot happier with set times for meals, baths, nappy changes, walks etc-he knows what is coming next and that seems to comfort him. However I am having some problems with hitting at the moment that I am trying to conquer with time outs. It is so hard being a single mum but there are benefits!

Andrea - posted on 06/03/2011

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It's hard but it does get better...I have a 3 year old son, and I've raised him by myself since the day that he was born. I have a full time job and I go to college, and to be honest, I don't know how I do it, but I've managed to handle it all, but it is tough...

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