1. Put the guilt away (preferably in a bag and take it to the curb)
Our society likes to manipulate mothers by playing on our doubts and insecurities. With single moms the guilt seems to be intensified a hundred fold. When society isn’t guilting us, our kids may be guilting us and we often guilt ourselves. We need to keep our expectations of ourselves and our children realistic and if we have no means of gauging what realistic means, a good sensible book will be a huge help. I found “Healthy Parenting” by Janet Geringer Woititz a godsend but there are a number of other great books out there. If we can’t afford to go to Chapters, there’s always the local library. I’ve actually found the bulk of my really helpful books at Value Village and the Salvation Army.
2. Have a laugh
My kids are two of the funniest people I have ever met. A simple game of Crazy Eights or my Tina Turner impression can turn into a ROTFL event and we all feel so much better afterwards. Watching a comedy flick or some comedians on You Tube gives me a break from the stress and seriousness of life and gives me an endorphin shower (can never get too many of those)!
3. Pamper yourself
When it’s my “time of the month” it’s candles and bubble bath every night. If I don’t have bubble bath Epsom salt will do. I don’t consider this frivolous, I consider it necessary in order to maintain some sanity. Sometimes I pray and sometimes I let my mind drift but either way I’m not focused on the stress and I’m also doing something exclusively for me. When I constantly put others first and deny my needs I begin to lose perspective on my value and doing something for myself affirms that I am important.
4. Release the tension in a positive manner
Whether it’s exercising, venting to someone or screaming in the shower we need to release the tension we’re feeling or we’ll end up exploding and possibly harming ourselves or someone else. Much of the illness I have experienced has been a result of stress build-up inside of me and I have learned the hard way to release the tension I’m feeling before it escalates. One thing I do when I’m upset is I clean furiously because it’s physical, I have the energy to do it when I’m stressed out, and the end result is tangible and satisfying. If only the end result would last longer…
5. Keep things in their proper perspective
One of my frequent prayers is that God would help me to see things are they really are. Much of my stress is a result of my skewed perspective on situations. We are surrounded by a million messages that tell us we don’t have enough stuff and we need more, more and more. Do I really need 10 pairs of pants? 3 ski jackets? Do I really need a new loveseat when my 20-year-old loveseat is still in good shape and there’s nothing wrong with it? Whenever one of my kids went through a growth spurt, I would panic and think, “Oh no! What am I gonna do now? I have to buy a new wardrobe for him/her and I can’t afford it!” Not so…especially now that I don’t have to go out to a laundromat anymore. I can do laundry every night if I need to and hang the clothes up if I’m concerned about electricity usage. We can wear the same shirt or pants more than one time in a week. I try to stay focused on what we do have as opposed to what we don’t have. It’s helpful to find someone stable and sensible to talk with to help you keep things in their proper perspective.
These are five tried and true methods that have worked for me over the past 19 years and I hope that you try them too!