Maintaining Joy As a Single Parent: Is It Possible?
Author and speaker, and fellow single mom Nikki Henderson talks about being a joyful single parent. How can we maintain our joy when parenting alone? What does this look like in our day-to-day lives?
Below is an overview of my interview with Nikki, along with some quotes. To listen to the complete interview, go to the Grace for Single Parents podcast and look for Episode 61.
Nikki introduces herself and talks a bit about her journey as a single mom.
We talk briefly about co-parenting and how this looks in Nikki’s life. She talks about what she calls the enterprise of co-parenting so it doesn’t have to be the single parent doing everything alone.
As we parent there’s an enterprise of people that are there and sometimes if it can be dad, that’s great, but it may be grandma, auntie, cousin, friend, and this enterprise is a whole support system that we pull up.
Related: The Difficulties of Managing Change as a Single Parent
How can we maintain joy in the single-parent season?
In the midst of single parenting and the effects of the pandemic, how do we maintain our joy, our rest, our self-care? What is that pulse check? What are we really feeling under the surface?
Related: Overwhelmed by Life? Do This One Thing
The pandemic magnified the potential to feel alone. But many of us found a new strength we didn’t know we had.
We may never have parented through a crisis, and while we’re coming over the hump, there are still these lingering things. If we’re not careful, we’ll stay in the strain or an excessive demand
Our kids know when we’re doing well and when we’re not.
What to do to maintain your joy and de-stress:
- Don’t underestimate taking just 5 minutes for yourself.
- Going outside for a walk – Nikki explains that is her way of releasing and preparing for the day ahead
- Prioritize rest for ourselves. Even when it seems impossible, and we might have to pray to open a door of rest.
Related: Setting Boundaries with an Ex-Spouse
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28
“Sometimes you have to get on your knees and say, God, show me what my strategies are. How will I get through this season and come out on top?”
How to teach your kids to rest?
It starts with us. Consider all the activities you have planned for your kids. Are you constantly filling their schedules? Even with fun things? But not to the point they don’t have time to discover what rest is and means for themselves.
Related: What the Bible Says About Rest for Your Weary Soul
I found the balance between still experiencing life, but still knowing when to just take it easy a little bit.
God challenged me to rethink and detach the strain of my journey from the beauty of my blessing.
As soon as I would start to feel like I’m drowning, I would just drop to my knees and I would pray, Okay, Lord, I need help right now.
Nikki talks about her past and her identity, about how they are separate.
“It’s not a race to the finish line of parenting. It’s a race to being the best us that we can be first for us – because self-care is not selfish. It’s important. And from there, it trickles into parenting and all the other relationships around us. But it’s got to start first with me.”
What to do when your single-parenting feels empty of joy.
Nikki talks about her journey and how at the beginning, she went through “resentful parenting.”
Related: Who to Lean On When You Don’t Have a Support System
Other things that can deplete our joy:
- Our expectations of what parenting would look like and how it doesn’t measure up.
- Constantly giving to our children and not receiving – we need to be poured back into.
- Lack of support
The beauty of grace is that it’s not earned is that it’s given to, to us. the beauty of joy is that I don’t have to earn it from anyone – it is a gift that I can have in my life.
Related: Our Children Can Be the Biggest Blessing in our Singleness
What are the blessings of being a single parent?
- The beauty of watching my children grow
- Complete reliance on God
- Life itself
- Being proud of doing this parenting thing alone and well: You’ve kept food on the table. You’ve kept the roof over the head. You’ve tried your best to keep ’em safe. you’ve done it, and you are doing it, and you will.
Last words for Single Parents
Don’t forget about self-care and there are no boundaries when it comes to taking care of yourself. Ideas:
- Reading a book.
- Dinner out with family.
- Save money elsewhere and treat yourself to something.
- Start a garden.
- Go to a movie by yourself.
Ask God for the joy to remain and to stay. Be conscious of it when it’s depleting and find ways to replenish through prayer through faith.
More from Nikki:
Grab her books:
My Greatest Blessings: Memoirs of a Single Mom
Storm Clouds Are Passing: Hold on Until Change Comes
Moments with God: Stories for the Soul of a Woman