There are a lot of lousy things we can complain about when it comes to being a single mama. I for one have probably complained about all of them (more then once but who’s counting). As I was getting my little ones ready for their weekly Saturday-Sunday visit with their dad I was thinking how when you’re married your kids are with you longer, married moms and dads don’t have to know the feeling of packing their child to “leave”. Just the act of packing them up forces thoughts of one day they will leave and how fast time really does go by. As single moms we are faced to see the reality and the truths much earlier then our married mama counterparts. In some ways though I think it can be better and give us opportunities to be better mothers to our children. I for one am always wondering how my divorce will affect them. I don’t come from divorce and so I recruit my friends who are from divorced families to help me navigate what helped and hindered their growth, their childhoods and their relationships looking back. I want to still be the conscious, mindful mom that I dreamt of being when they were in my tummies. I admit I’ve had to adjust my sails but these are the top three tools I use to stay connected and conscious to my children.
Below are the top 3 Tips to be a More Compassionate Conscious Parent
1. We all probably know this one but don’t talk bad about your ex-partner in front of your child. Children pick up even on the tone we use. They know that when we spell a word to create our secret code while were on the phone that it’s something they aren’t supposed to know or hear and their ears perk up even more. They sense and feel and piece things together and so the best advice given is don’t talk about anything you don’t want them to pick up on even slightly while they are around. I know it can be difficult to get time alone to have a conversation but do your best to remember that whatever they pick up on they can piece together and we don’t know how they internalize it. While the fleeting fight or whatever it is you may be complaining about may pass for you but it can stick with them for years to come.
2. Reassess, reinvent and realign. This is something that I do constantly. I check in with my kiddos to see where they’re at, I look over our household and I take inventory of what’s working and what isn’t. I invent new ways of doing things and I constantly realign what works now and not what used to work or get stuck in how it should work or how it worked for my mother, sister or aunt. I will give you an example from my own life. We had no structure. Actually we had limited structure. I realized it was so stressful to make transitions and things weren’t getting done consistently like brushing teeth. I talked with my 4 year old and picked up on that she likes to know what comes next, a solid routine and so I printed out morning and evening schedules. There is no prize or reward. It’s just a schedule that we can look at and check off (or put a sticker) to know where she is in her routine. It serves all of us because she is developing a sense of accomplishment and independence which serves her confidence and self esteem and it’s not a fight to get everyone to brush teeth and go potty before bed or before we leave the house, it’s a given because its on the schedule.
3. Become a Detective of your child actions and words. When my kids melt down into tantrums sometimes I want to pull my hair out and all I can think is “What now? I do everything for you-I am consumed by your wants and desires how can anything be that bad or wrong?!” I make it about me. As single moms we are overworked and overwhelmed we give and give and give we are usually running on empty or close to it. We desperately want to be understood and sometimes instead of coming from our grown up selves we shrink back into an emotional time warp of our own little girl inside of us. But snap out of it sister because your little one is trying to tell you something. Maybe they need more one on one attention, maybe they’re picking up on your stress and anxiety and it scares them and can leave them feeling less safe or maybe they need a better routine. We all do our very bests but it’s our job to step up and listen for clues and understand the actions of our children so we can deliver what they really need. Believe it or not when you are able to meet your child’s needs beyond the love, food and shelter of survival you are setting them up for success beyond your wildest dreams. And your relationship will thrive and grow making it more meaningful and even easier on all of you.
I guess we will never really know what being a mom to our children would have been like had we stayed living with our partner. We won’t technically know if we would be more or less conscious but I do know that it shook me awake in a way that I am grateful because once you wake up to the new reality of single motherhood you have the opportunity to use it as a gift to redefine what type of mother you want to be and how you will raise your children.
Written by Danielle Marggraf