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Family Matters

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Linda Mintle, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of 16 books, a national expert on family issues and the psychology of food and weight. She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a national speaker, writer, and news contributor.

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The Cure for Stressed Out Single Mom-itis


Question: I am a single mom with three children ages 5, 7, and 9. I am stressed out. I find myself yelling at my kids and annoyed every time they want something. It seems I can’t even get in the shower some days. I need a break, but have no money to really go anywhere. Any suggestions?

Dr. Linda: I’m sure many people have told you that being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have, especially since your job doesn’t come with three weeks of paid vacation every year! A nice trip to the South Pacific would do us all a lot of good, but isn’t realistic. Still you have to find ways to manage stress that don’t cost money.

Ten Ways to Manage Your Mommy Stress

1) Find another single mom and trade out a morning or few hours of kid time so you both get a break. You agree to take her kids for a morning and then she returns the favor. Some communities have a mother’s day out program as well.

2) Put the 9-year-old child in charge for a 15 minutes. Tell your kids you are going to your bedroom and lock the door. Unless someone is hurt, you are taking a short time out. Do this twice a day.

3) Get up 30 minutes before the kids. Take the alone time to enjoy a nice shower, read, think, or pray over a cup of coffee.

4) Get the kids to bed by 8:30 p.m. The nine year old can read quietly in his room for 30 minutes if he likes, but lights out for the other two. Start the bedtime routine for the 5-year-old kid at 7:30, so she’s in bed by 8:00 p.m. This way you’ll have a few hours to yourself at night.

5) Get the kids to help with small chores and picking up. Stay on top of cleaning, meals, and school activities. Just don’t strive for perfection.

6) Take care of your body by eating well. You cannot allow yourself to be run down from lack of sleep or bad eating habits. Remember there is a woman’s body hiding under mom. It needs attention. Let your 7 year old give you a pedicure, comb your hair, or rub your shoulders. Girls at this age love this stuff.

7) View life as a challenge. Every stressful event is an opportunity for your family to meet the challenge and solve the problem.

8) Practice relaxation techniques throughout the day. While your sitting at the table feeding kids, do deep breathing, or tense and relax muscles to keep your physical body calm.

9) Run Bible verses through your head and teach them to the kids. Choose ones about God’s provisions and help.

10) Make sure you have support – people who will pray for you, help you in the time of crisis, and lend a hand once in awhile. Check your church to see if it offers any special helps for single moms. My church has a program called “Adopt a Single Mom.” Start one in your church. Get involved with other moms and share tips and information.

Above all, keep your relationship with God strong so that you don’t give in to defeat or discouragement. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are one parent doing the job of two. But, He gives you the grace to do it!

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Thursday, October 28, 2010 4:10 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: The Cure for Stressed Out Single Mom-itis

cAN U COMMENT MORE ABOUT THE "ADOPT A SINGLE MOM PROGRAM AT CHURCH. I think I could probably guess...but, would like to hear what your church is doing.

Thanks.
Left by Rebecca on Oct 29, 2010 4:10 PM