Author: Lori Apon
Being thrust into life as a widowed mom takes your breath away, literally! Questions come from within and without—will my children be okay and how in the world do I do this? For most families, managing life, home, and children is an overwhelming task even with a husband by your side. Mom, truthfully this new life won’t be easy, but parenting without an earthly daddy can be done, not only half-heartedly but triumphantly!
Here are 7 helpful tips that have changed my life as I navigated parenting alone:
- The importance of one – You are one person—one woman, one mother, one with the responsibility of many. Take one day at a time, often one moment at a time. Remember, when things start to pile up, you have one big God covering you and He even reminds us that each day has enough trouble of its own:
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
- Routine is good – Life is made up of routines, although in the middle of the mundane we are tempted to think and desire otherwise. Establishing a schedule for your life will provide an important rhythm when the unexpected highs and lows intervene. Children find security in a schedule. Knowing for the most part what will happen each day and throughout the week, keeps a steady peaceful undercurrent to a potentially chaotic life.
- Do the next thing – This was the phrase widowed mom Elisabeth Elliot lived by. For me, the following two questions helped me when trying to decide the next best thing:
- What brings you the greatest joy? Sometimes getting caught up on the laundry would bring joy, while at other times a hot soak in a bubble bath is just what you need!
- What gives an atmosphere of peace? They say peace is God’s umpire in life. So, if a bubble bath might bring you the greatest joy, but your little ones are still running around unbathed and not yet in bed, you might have to rethink what’s “best.” In other words, use these two questions in tandem to provide balance and guidance when trying to make the next move.
- Receive or request help – In the early days people will often commit to helping you and walking by your side for as long as you need or “for anything.” When they forget their commitment, you may need to courageously request their help. It is never easy asking or being on the receiving end in life; however, don’t let pride stand in the way of having your house cleaned or yard mowed, or asking for these things when you need them! It is important to remember that you are not the only one receiving–valuable lessons are learned for both the giver and receiver alike! Receiving help today will relieve stress tomorrow. Take steps to set up a support squad that is excited to bless you in this journey.
- Go to bed – Stress does not look or feel good on anyone, neither does lack of sleep. It’s okay to tuck yourself in bed soon after your children. Rest is necessary even if nights are difficult and sleep evades you. When you lay your head on the pillow, lay your burdens with the Lord who promises to care for you. Many times, when sharing difficulties I was facing with my mom, she would encourage me to go to bed with the promise that joy comes in the morning. Even though circumstances often remained the same, with a refreshed physical body, my perspective on life was noticeably different!
- Insert solitude into your already solitary season – Even though you live life alone, give yourself the gift of time away from your children, work, and routine. God speaks in silence. Rick Warren says we need to:
- Divert Daily: spend a few slow minutes with the Lord each day. Guard this time!
- Withdraw Weekly: Take a long walk or needed nap.
- Abandon Annually: Go away for at least 24 hours. When my children were young, I had the opportunity to trade houses with my parents periodically during the summer, giving me extended time away to regroup. They cared for my eight children while I enjoyed their peaceful mountain home. I am confident this gift revived and refueled me, supplying energy to take on the next leg of the journey!
This practice of personal discipline allows time for refreshment. The load is heavy, and you need to rest and relax to keep up with the pace.
- Keep the big picture in mind – The days are long, and the years are short. Your investment into this season is crucial to the type of fruit produced in the next. Life won’t always be this difficult. Balancing life as a single mom with all the hard…and even harder days, won’t last forever. Your children will grow up, seasons will change, and you will find yourself living an entirely new chapter of life. God will give grace for each season and is with you and carrying you to the other side of the valley!