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10 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

10 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

When I got married and had children and stepped into the world of parenthood and being a mommy, I never thought that one day I would be handling the majority of the parenting responsibilities on my own. I never imagined I would have primary custody of my children and that I would be living under the ‘single mom’ label.

I lived 3 years as a single mom and it was never easy but it was always rewarding. Some days I didn’t know how I would pay the bills or be able to provide everything for my children but by being blessed with great family and friends, we were always taken care of.

I was very blessed to have their father involved in their lives, so I did get breaks every other weekend and during holidays. Single moms who cope with no feedback or help from the father of their children are the true heroes. They are doing the work of two parents emotionally, financially and in every other way they can. Single moms and dads doing it alone deserve great respect.

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The photo accompanying this article is of myself and my two beautiful kiddos and they are the reason I was able to get up every day, and do the right thing. They helped me to support them, even when some days I just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep after a full day of work and caring for them.

Here are 10 things you may not know about single moms:

1. We are resilient

We have experienced divorce or separation and watched our children go through the pain of a broken family. We have experienced hardships and situations we did not want or ever expect to have to go through. We continue to experience negative and challenging situations one after the other, and we just keep going with the main focus being our children. We know that it is our responsibility to do the right thing for them. Our motivation is driven by the fact that we are living for others now, not just ourselves.

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2. We love to snuggle

We have children that love us unconditionally and we love them back. We sometimes just snuggle in bed with our kids and we love giving them kisses and hugs. Our moments spent together are precious, especially if we lose every other weekend with them while they visit their father. We love our kids as much as we can and those special times are the reasons we do what we do: it’s for them. The other awesome thing is that it is also for us as our children provide us with so much love it makes it all worthwhile.

3. We want relationships with others

Just because we have children doesn’t mean we don’t like to have friends or our own lives apart from our kids. We want to have relationships with adults, especially when more than half of our time is spent watching reruns of Spongebob, Dora the Explorer, playing games, or doing crafts with children. We still like to have fun and we really don’t want to spend every single waking moment with our kids. We still need quality time with friends and others outside of our relationships with our children so we don’t feel isolated.

4. We deeply value family

We know what it was like to feel like a complete family. We lost that, but we still long for it. We look at other friends or family members who have issues within their relationships and we wonder how on earth they can be unhappy – they have a stable home, beautiful children and no real drama or issues like the ones we experienced. We hope for, and desire to be a part of a healthy, and strong family once again. We would be so thankful and grateful to have another chance.

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5. We want the best environment for our children

I could have stayed in my relationship to ensure that my children still had their father around. It would have been easier financially and easier for the kids to have their father around. But it was not the best environment for either of us, or the children. Single moms make hard decisions that many times will change our finances in a negative way. We choose the safest and healthiest environment for our children and we make decisions to protect our children as much as we can. Each and every situation is different but we truly want the most healthy environment for our children, and sometimes that includes hard decisions like ending the marriage if all avenues for working things out have been exhausted.

6. We don’t want pity

We do not want sympathy or pity for our situation. We accept where we are in our life as single moms, (even though we don’t love it), and we don’t want special treatment or for others to think that our lives are of lesser value. We do have a complete family, it just looks different than the traditional one. We just want love and acceptance. So, if you know a single parent that has no family nearby and you want to make their day, just offer to watch their kids for an hour so they can go to the grocery store in peace.

7. We wish we were always on time

We really do not like being late or want to be late. But when you have yourself and one or two children that need to be somewhere at a specific time, sometimes stuff just happens. We deal with scenarios like this: we’re about to walk out the front door but our son can’t find his other shoe, or, our daughter has to take that one special Barbie with her that she can’t find (rather than the 23 others she has in her toy box). Due to last minute issues like this, we get delayed. We sometimes need a little grace if we’re late. Just know that we really try and sometimes it just doesn’t work out like we planned.

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8. We have lots of patience

We don’t have a person with us to reinforce boundaries or rules when our children are testing us. Often times we are disciplining on our own and it’s hard to keep rules in place every single time. We pick our battles to keep from losing our temper and we try as hard as we can to have an extra reserve of patience for those days that no matter what we do, we feel that the kids have won and we are completely defeated. However, one more day of self control and patience is a victory, and we need to celebrate that instead of beating ourselves up.

9. We have no problem being alone

We love our kids deeply, we really do. If you give a single mom a choice of staying with her kids or spending some quality time with herself, 90% of the time they are going to take the time to just recharge for a bit without their children. We would be so excited to go see a movie alone that is not animated and has a higher rating than G or PG. We would love to just drive around with OUR music on the radio LOUD because we can. I encourage the other 10% that might feel they need to be with their children every single moment they have them to just try this. We all need time for ourselves so that we can better care for our children. Let go of the mom guilt- it’s not a bad thing to take care of yourself as well.

10. We wish we had a clone

Single moms often wish they could have a carbon copy of themselves made just to accomplish simple tasks easily, like getting the weekly groceries. Or as another example, if we had a clone we could then work out in the morning before work, when the kids are still sleeping. Many single moms work 40+ hours a week and still come home to feed, care for, and nurture their children on a daily basis. Having a clone would just make it so much easier to do the small things involved with taking care of an entire household.

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Wendy Redden

Digital Advertising Account Manager, Music Blogger, Freelance Writer

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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