I wanted to write something aimed at single parents. I have treated many women who are single parents, but never fully appreciated what kind of stress they faced until I joined the ranks. Now I can speak with personal experience and feel the time is right to offer some advice to others who find themselves alone bringing up children. This is also aimed at men who find themselves in this position, the strategies work for anyone as long as they want to try a different approach.
The first feeling often experienced is loss both for yourself and your children. It’s almost like a bereavement and, even if you did not enjoy the happiest of relationships, it felt like there was a second person who had a responsibility for the family. There is a time period when all you can do is feel anger at the person, irritability that you find yourself in this position, there is often a real sense of weakness and it can look like the person who left is having a high old time while you are left to pick up the pieces!
Anxiety is a theme which runs through virtually everything to do with this situation. And, I suspect it is a problem that continues for quite some time until the dust settles which can often take years!
Dr Bach rescue remedy is a great calmer. It is a gentle, yet powerful approach and is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. I have been using the rescue remedy pastilles. They are a very new product that delivers rescue remedy in a pastille form whenever you need it, particularly if a glass of water is not to hand. Make sure that you look for the distinctive yellow label with the Dr Bach signature when buying these products because there are a number of other products linking themselves to the Bach remedies. You can find Dr Bach at Boots, health shops and some good chemists. Lately, I have been using this frequently!
I am a great believer in taking charge of a situation and if you feel you are less powerful than your partner, there are a number of things you can do to improve this. The first thing I would suggest is that you look at the thoughts you focus on most of the time. If you actually look at what you think about, I bet it will all be negative. We often dwell on the unfairness of things, what things we are going to say etc. We never focus on good things like the birthday party we attended where everyone said how good we looked! Instead, we focus on ‘what did my friend mean by that comment,’ or ‘why didn’t John speak to me!’ All rubbish thoughts and guaranteed to lower your self esteem (this is one of the most common things women tell me about and it really does impact on their lives).
You need to change the record and actually replace the thoughts you have with a more positive phrase, so you need to come up with something you can repeat to yourself every time you find yourself contemplating rubbish. (Please note, this is to be repeated inside your head, not out loud for obvious reasons!).
An easy one is to simply say ‘I intend to think positive thoughts’. You can repeat that over and over again until you have almost forgotten the rubbish you were thinking. Repeating a phrase has a way of distancing you from your thoughts and you can then move on in a better frame of mind.
Exercise is very important. It can give you a real boost and make you feel a lot better. A rebounder (you can get these from Argos) is an easy way to begin. You can either do a really gentle jog or jump vigorously and it doesn’t have to take ages. You must build up slowly otherwise you will ache! Start with 5 minutes a day and build up to 10 – 20 minutes morning or evening. If you have a bad back or stiff joints, you may need a more gentle approach like yoga or pilates and it would be easier to join a class, though you may have to work with a DVD at home, but you need to be seriously motivated!
Aromatherapy oils can be useful and quite uplifting or relaxing depending which one you use. Lavender is the staple relaxant, but remember if you don’t like the smell, it won’t work for you. I love orange oil, it can give a real lift. You can simply put a few drops on a tissue and smell that, or use a burner, but remember you must use 100% Essential Oils. They are slightly more expensive, but worth the extra cost.
Finally, it is important to remember that life moves on and situations change and you will cope, you probably always have. A friend told me at the time, ‘remember people make decisions and don’t think of the consequences – often those decisions had little to do with you so don’t sit around taking responsibility for their choices and don’t look for the blame!’.