“Single parenting stress can affect your health, alter your perspective and sour your mood, even on the best of occasions,” says a single mother who lives in New Delhi and has struggled to bring up her two girls all alone. “Looking back in retrospect,” Munira (name changed) says, “Although some stress is unavoidable, there are steps you can take to keep it to a minimum and inject some welcome serenity into the mix.”
Nearly every parent will share that at some point, they found their parenting duties exhausting. Many may also agree that as a parent you can often feel that you are falling short in your role.
Now imagine how much the stress and exhaustion can compound if you are not only the primary caregiver but also the primary provider! “I was doing the work of two people, and so naturally there was bound to be some shortfalls, plus I was struggling with finances,” Munira echoed a similar sentiment.
Some single parents are great housekeepers but lousy bookkeepers which can cause worry about finances. If you’re a whiz with numbers but can’t even successfully make a cup of tea, then you’re probably stressed about domestic issues. No one is great at everything, and stress is like the steam in a pressure cooker that builds because of concerns over what you can’t or don’t know how to do.
“I realized I had to start reducing stress, by identifying what triggers it,” said Munira, “as I was beginning to fall ill and my girls needed me.”
Some of the best single parenting tips you’ll ever employ will be about ways to lighten the load by eliminating stress. If your stress involves finances, then seek advice from a knowledgeable friend on how to manage your money better. If you are uncomfortable asking a friend, search on Google for some tips, suggestions, and ideas.
The lack of money can be the biggest issue for single parents, especially women. Reduce this by reaching out to a creditor to come up with a more reasonable payment schedule or asking relatives for an infusion of cash to deal with the current crisis. Without some basic control, whatever is bothering you will sap your energy. So deal with stress-related issues sooner rather than later.
Another component of stress is the expectation.“Block your mind to everything,” says Munira and fix your mind to completing your task. The girls needed me, and that was all I was concerned about — their well-being.”
“I sat down and looked at the short term and the long term goals. Short term was money for their fees and their immediate needs. Long term I looked at only much later — my retirement needs. I looked at my life through the lens of the patriarchal system where I had to be the provider for everything.”
Munira’s health suffered as she struggled with ad hoc jobs, in the beginning, to make ends meet. After which she got a proper full-time job in publishing and later in tourism. “My parents gave me a roof above our heads, so I did not have to worry about rent. However that was it, beyond that I had to earn the rest,” she said.
Munira’s girls are now in their 30’s and as she says, “Thankfully it is all behind me now. I did read a lot of single parenting articles, which are loaded with suggestions on how to cram more into your day and still look great, smell great and have a winning smile. The result is that you pile on artificial stress by thinking that the things you want to do, like cleaning out your wardrobe or volunteering at your local civic body, are things you have to do.”
“ No! “ says Munira. “Do what you need to do, just basic things and cut out the rest. Keep yourself happy and do what is the minimum in a day to keep yourself afloat. I worked at jobs which paid me Rs 50 per day, 40 years ago. It was a struggle, but a great learning experience and the girls are solid individuals as they struggled along with me.”
Today Munira says, “ One of the nicest parenting strategies one can employ for oneself in the short term is to put away many of these ideas about what you should be doing with your time. Concentrate on keeping things simple at the start, while you are dealing with a huge emotional upheaval that divorce is.
Life doesn’t have to be a seven-course meal.”