If only there were a way to subtly give this list to your extended family, right? As tempting as it may be to e-mail it to them or share it with your social network, consider setting the example by helping another single mom you know -- perhaps someone you work with or who lives in your neighborhood.
Remember, too, that it doesn't have to take much time or effort to be an encouraging, supportive friend. Start by asking her how her kids are doing, or offering to share the job of carpooling to and from school or extra-curricular activities.
Once you open the door, you may be surprised to find the kind of mutually-supportive friendship you've been looking for all along.
Get the List: 50 Ways to Help a Single Mom
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The countdown is on, and one of the things I like to do in preparation for summer vacation is to make a list of activities, outings, and projects we'd like to get to. For example, we'd like to explore some local hiking trails, drive out to the beach for a few day trips, and build a campfire pit in the backyard.
How about you? What are some of the things you'd like to do this summer? Whether your kids are with you full time, once a week, or plan to come out for a long summer visit, sit down together (in person or on the phone), and start planning out some of the things you'd like to do. Gathering ideas is the first step in making these fun summer events happen.
Summer Resources for Single Parents:
- 10 Weeks of Summer Fun
- Fun, Creative Summer Activities
- 30 Fun Summer Activities
- Summer Child Care Options
As a parent, taking care of yourself is vital to your kids' well-being. When you're getting the rest and down time you need, you lower your stress level and visibly demonstrate to your kids that your lives will, indeed, be okay. That's why self-care isn't selfish. The trickle-down effect benefits your children just as much as it does you.
And this is just as true for single dads as it is for single moms. That's why Wayne Parker, About.com's Guide to Fatherhood, has an article for dads titled, Self-Care for Men Going Through Divorce. In it, he advises men to eat well, exercise, attend to their own personal growth, and more.
So don't shy away from taking care of your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Seeing your example may be just what your kids need right now.
More on Self-Care for Single Parents:
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When I recommend counseling to a client, it's frequently not because I think she (or he) "needs" it to function. It's usually because I know -- from experience and observation -- some of the benefits, including:
- Perspective. How many times do you find yourself asking, "Is it me? Am I crazy?" Speaking with a good counselor on a regular basis can help you identify what's yours to own and what rightfully belongs to someone else -- such as your ex or your kids.
- Strategies. A counselor who knows your situation can also help you develop strategies for coping with the challenges you face everyday, from dealing with an ex who's bent on having things her way (or his way), to coping with a parent who subconsciously undermines your authority at every turn.
- Confidence. Finally, opening up to a counselor can give you the confidence to set boundaries, stand up for yourself, or take the next step in your career or personal life.
If you feel you would benefit from speaking with a professional, contact your insurance company for next steps or call 2-1-1 to access mental health services in your area.
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What are some of the things that turn you off right away when you're on a date? When the other person takes a call or responds to a text? Talks about himself (or herself) all evening? Or, worse, spends the evening recounting a recent break-up, blow by blow?
There's nothing worse than looking forward to a night out, only to find that the person you're with lacks basic first date etiquette skills. Share your biggest peeves here on the blog by leaving a comment below or sharing your story on the "Readers Respond" feature, Worst Single Parents' Dating Faux Pas.
- Get a Fresh Perspective on Single Parent Dating
- Find Time for Single Parent Dating
- Online Dating Tips for Single Parents
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It feels good when someone recognizes the hard work you're doing as a single parent, doesn't it? Whether it's family, friends, or your kids' teachers, it's just nice to have someone say, "Hey, you're doing a really great job!"
Typically, that kind of acknowledgment doesn't happen with enough frequency, though. That's why you have to recognize and celebrate your own efforts, because even when no one else is there to see it, you know all of the work you do for your family.
So, moms, don't let this Mother's Day pass by like it's any other day. You deserve some honor and recognition! Keep in mind, too, that you don't have to wait around for someone else to "get it" or for your kids to be old enough to acknowledge the holiday on their own. Go ahead and celebrate it for yourself, in recognition of all the ways you've grown into a better parent since that very first day your baby was placed into your arms.
And if you're a single dad reading this, I want you to do the same for Father's Day next month. Don't be shy about giving yourself credit!
Related Mother's Day Resources:
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Developing a healthy, effective coparenting relationship is hard work. It requires you to see the best in your ex, make compromises, and continually ask yourself what's really best for your kids.
For most coparents, there's plenty of room for growth in this department -- which is actually appropriate, because getting to the point where you can genuinely say that your coparenting relationship is working well may take years.
Rather than focusing on what's not working, though, try to identify some things that are already going well, like the way the two of you work together to coordinate your schedules, or the way that your parenting styles and house rules are consistent. Identifying even just a few things that you share in common and that accentuate your coparenting relationship will help you to build trust with one another and learn to rely more on the methods of communication that already work well for the two of you.
More Coparenting Resources:
- 10 Signs of a Healthy Coparenting Relationship
- Parenting Plan Worksheets for Coparents
- Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Ex
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Asking for help is humbling, sure, but it's not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, I believe that the strongest individuals know themselves well enough to know when they need to ask for help.
So don't let misconceptions about asking for help stop you from reaching out to those around you. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how many people would be willing to help if they knew your need. Remember, too, that it's good for our kids to see us ask for help. We tell them all the time that there's no shame in that, and we can set a positive example by letting them see us ask for help when we need it.
For help taking the first step, read How to Get Over Your Fear of Asking for Help.
- Find a Single Parent Support Group
- Find Help for Single Parents in Your State
- Create a Network of Support
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So often, our fears get the best of us. They distract us, even paralyze us. But wrapping your arms around your fears is important because it's the first step in doing something about them.
So take a moment and think about what you're afraid of most. Is is losing custody to an ex you don't trust? Having to share custody? Hearing the words "I want to try living with mom (or dad)"?
Sometimes just naming your fears "out loud" can help to reduce their power. So take a moment to share your fears here on the blog -- along with what you're doing about them.
Then use the resources below to talk with your kids, explore your options, and research the laws in your state:
- How to Talk With Your Kids About Child Custody
- "Help! My Son Wants to Live With His Dad!"
- 6 Shared Parenting Myths
- Important Information About Your State's Child Custody Laws
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The sex talk isn't just for teens who are already in dating relationships.
As parents, we need to start the conversation when our kids are young and be intentional about teaching them how to cultivate healthy dating relationships as they get older.
Let our readers know how you've approached the issue by sharing your story here on the site.
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