So it'll come as no surprise to you that when I first became a single parent I looked around for some instructions. Yes, really I did.
Instructions were a little hard to come by, but I did do plenty of reading on the subject. And boy, there is plenty to read. How to cope as a lone parent. Raising confident children. Going it alone. The survival guide to single parenting. How to raise happy, healthy children in a one parent home. The pitfalls of being a single parent. How to succeed as a single parent. And so on....
In fact there is so much information on how to be an all singing, all dancing single parent that if I read it all the girlies would have left home by the time I'd finished. No, far too much. So there was an awful lot of reading bits and pieces of books, magazine and newspaper articles and watching inspiring TV programmes about how all of society's ills are the fault of the single, and mainly female, parent.
Hmm....so out of all of this overload of advice came a few nuggets of information which I have mentally kept filed away. Not in the orange box file, but in my head. Things such as:
- Don't wish your children's lives away. Enjoy the age they are now and don't look too far ahead as it can be daunting. This has got me through a lot of difficult times and is something I still live by. Children grow so fast and although it sounds cliched to say it, before you know it they will be grown-ups and that precious childhood time will be but a distant memory.
- Who cares if there is beans on toast for dinner three days on the run? As long as there is love in the house that's all that matters. I read this in a long forgotten book on single parenting and it really struck a chord with me. Why worry about things that will be forgotten about in the future? Yes, money may be tight. No, there may not be enough hours in the day to do all the other things and make a three course meal. I just want my girlies to know that are loved and that, I believe, is the best foundation I can give them.
- Start everyday afresh. This can be hard, especially when you're going through a difficult time but I think it's a good one to bear in mind. No matter what has happened to you or what the children have done, every morning is a fresh day.
- Never be the first person to pull away from a hug with your child. This might sound really odd, but I swear it works. I used to always be in a rush, thinking of 1001 things that need doing and even when my daughters just needed a hug these lists of 'important' jobs would be racing through my mind. Then I remember seeing an Oprah Winfrey show where one mother said she had resolved to always hug her children for as long as they wanted. Wow! So simple but so profoundly effective. I decided to try this. Now, when either of my girlies come over for a hug I stop everything (OK, don't try this when driving!) and give them my undivided attention. I wait until they are ready to pull away - and they will, eventually I promise! This one simple thing makes them feel more important than anything else I am doing, which of course they are, and for children actions speak much louder than words.
Of course if you are a lone parent there is tons of good advice to be had from places like OneSpace.org.uk, Loneparents.org.uk and Oneparentfamilies.org.uk. Or, if you prefer the occasional rantings of a real life imperfect single mum you're welcome back here anytime.
Image from here