What I Learned When I Became a Single Parent
Written by guest contributor Rachel Menzoian, LPC
Single parenting is lonely, exhausting, and hard. The days can be long and overwhelming. My kids were four and six years old when I became a single parent. I was bone-tired and cried a lot. I lived moment-to-moment, day-to-day, and I hated it. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Rest: Most of my life I believed that to bring value I needed to be productive. I felt guilty resting. I wanted to be able to do it all. It didn’t take long for me to realize I could get more done when I was rested. I went to bed early even when there were things I needed to do. How do you make sure you’re getting enough rest? Set a time to get in bed and stick to it. Aim for at least 7-9 hours a night. Tomorrow is a new day.
Ask For Help: I believed I was weak if I asked for help. This was a lie. We all need help. It takes courage and vulnerability to ask for it. There are people in your life who want to help and they don’t know how. Ask them for help and be specific. Ask for people to love on your kids, bring you a meal, mow your lawn, pick up groceries etc. This will not only help you but help those who love you who are standing around feeling helpless. They will not think you are weak, but instead will be grateful you asked. What is something you can ask for?
Do Something for Yourself: I never put myself first. I realized quickly that I’m a better parent when I take care of myself. Take some time to think about what brings you joy and energy, and find time to put it in your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. This could be going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, taking an art class, having an adult night out, etc. Going to the gym was a lifesaver for me. It gave me connection to my friends, a break from my mental to-do list, and empowered me. It gave me strength. I wasn’t sure how I would financially make this happen or find the time. I reached out to the gym owner and asked if they would give me a discount. They not only gave me a discount, but let me go for free until I could get back on my feet financially. Most days I wanted to find an excuse not to go but I showed up and was so thankful when I did. What do you need to do for you? How can you make it happen?
Give Yourself Grace: You cannot do it all. You cannot be all things for your kids. Mom/Dad guilt is real. You and your kids will be ok. This is just a season. It is not forever. Take one day at a time and love yourself. God will fill in the gaps.
Start A Gratitude Journal: When I became a single parent, it felt like I could not catch a break. After a string of bad events, my best friend gave me a sign that said, “Hit me with your best shot.” We had to move, my kids switched schools three times, lice, broken bones, job changes, extra financial challenges, etc. It was easy to focus on what was going wrong. The kids and I started a gratitude journal. Each night at dinner, we would each list one thing. Some days were harder than others, but we started to see the good in the small things. We saw that God showed up every time. He will for you too. It might seem like you can’t catch a break either but, amid the chaos, God is there.
You might feel weary and hopeless, but you are not alone. Tomorrow is a new day; lean into God, ask for some help, and do something for you.
Rachel Menzoian is a licensed professional counselor and founder of Refuel Counseling (https://www.refuelcounseling.com) in Cumming, Georgia. Rachel is passionate about helping couples in a difficult marriage, as well as individuals going through a separation or divorce. Rachel has been married to her husband Jimmy since 2018 and has two children in middle school.