Being a parent is hard. After nine months, we have a beautiful child placed into our arms and there is no instructional manual. We may have our spouse besides us encouraging us and give us needed breaks. But when couple divorces becoming a single parent is hard. There are feelings of failure or embarrassment. The divorce process takes the parent through a range of emotions. During the whole process, parents are learning how to parent their children from two different households. This is harder than dividing assets.
Whether you are in the beginning of a divorce, the middle or the end, learning to put yourself first while meeting the needs of children is essential for your emotional well-being. Here are ten simple things you can do every day to put yourself first.
- Sit down for 5 minutes in silence. Just sit and be. Daily life as a single parent means that your children will turn to you for everything that they need from lunch money to bedtime stories. Be sure to take at least five minutes a day for self and just enjoy in the quiet.
- Take a bath or hot shower before bed. You can tie this activity in with the previous one. Enjoy the time and let “Calgon take you away” from the day’s stressors.
- Watch one of your favorite movies or cartoons from when you were a kid. Let your mind drift into nostalgia. Pull out your favorite Disney movie and rediscover it with your children.
- Listen to your favorite music and sing along—loudly! Dance to it. This is an activity that can be done with young children and allows them to burn off energy before having to go to bed.
- Say no. Don’t overcommit. You only have 168 hours per week. Be sure to save some of the time to take care of your body, mind and emotional well-being. While saying no may be hard, your life will better for doing so.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. Say no to your internal perfectionist. Friends used to comment on how clean my house was when I was single parent. Little did they know that every night I would clean up every room. It took an accident for me to realize that it is alright for the house to be slightly messy when I go to bed at night. The most important thing I needed was sleep and not a clean house.
- Exercise regularly. Even if it is just a quick 5-minute power walk. Everyone has time for that! Exercise with your children. Turn off the electronics and technology and go outside and just have fun playing. When my children played sports, we would work on the skill drills outside together as a family.
- Make a list of 5 things each day you are thankful for. Gratitude changes your attitude. Seriously dig deep on this one. I heard this recently on a podcast that I listen to. When you have an attitude of gratitude, you can withstand the struggles of life easier.
- Laugh out loud. Whether it’s by watching funny videos or reading something, be intentional to make yourself laugh. This goes along with the attitude of gratitude. Divorce can deflate your feelings of self-confidence or self-worth. Give yourself the boost you need by intentionally trying to laugh and be joyful.
- Put down your technology. It is one of my worst time wasters that I always regret. Often, I have said it will just be a few minutes, but technology can quickly dominate hours of my day, if I not aware of how much time I am on the computer, the iPad, or the phone. Put the technology down during dinner time and engage with your children. Recently, one of my grandchildren had to remind her Papa that she was right there during dinner. Children are only little once and there will be a time when they do not want to interact with parents.