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10 Ways to Find Happiness, Success, and Awakening As A Single Parent

10 Ways to Find Happiness, Success, and Awakening As A Single Parent

Life happens.

That’s all too true for single parents.

Most people do not create a family knowing they’ll be raising that family alone.

Furthermore, those who are raising a family alone, for one reason or another, are never fully prepared for the many challenges that come with it.

Being 100% responsible for the lives of children, while tending to their emotional, physical, developmental, and education needs, and while maintaining the duties of a stable household, can be exhausting, tiring, and thankless work.

Sounds pretty dismal, huh?

Are single moms and dads to believe that their lives will be a constant drumbeat of children, bills, household chores to be repeated forever? Will their path in life ever be fulfilling outside the nonstop work train of a single parent?

Of course it will.

My success, happiness, and awakening is not due to my negative thoughts about being a single mom. It’s based on what I do with those thoughts as a single mom. Realizing that helped me curb my negative energy and turn it into something useful.

And so can you!

When you acknowledge the activities you do on a daily basis with and for your family, you’ll realize you have positive, vibrant energy to obtain all the happiness and fulfillment your heart desires.

Let’s explore 10 ways to find your happiness, success, and awakening right now!

Happiness:

Accepting Your Comfort Zone

As single parents, we often feel the need to overcompensate for the obvious: a missing spouse.

We try to make many friends, join friendly groups, try online dating. Over and over again, only to feel like we’re better off with a small social circle.

And maybe that’s because that’s where we’re truly intended to be.

If you find yourself feeling at peace alone or with a small group of trusted friends, don’t question it. Embrace it! And realize there’s nothing wrong with it!

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Accept your comfort zone as just that: your personal space that gives you balance and peace. It keeps you out of questionable situations as well as keeping you level headed as you go about your day balancing home and kids alone.

The faster you accept and love your comfort zone, the more content you may find yourself.

Accepting Your Singlehood

For me, being apart from the father of my children was the best decision for my family.

I did not want my children growing up around fighting, arguing, and disrespect.

While I know we made the right decision to terminate the relationship for our family’s sake, but what about my sake? Am I doomed to singleness forever?

Maybe. And so what if I am?

Being single means you can make your own decisions. You can spend your money how you like without consulting with anyone else, plan the trips you want, and allow your kids to stay up a little later than usual without the opinion of other people.

For me, I was able to take control of financial responsibilities, drastically improve my credit score, and crawl out of debt far better than when I was with someone who didn’t have great money habits.

So, enjoy your singleness and the many freedoms that come with. Do something spontaneous like take a random vacation with the kids (or alone). Leave the dishes dirty for a few more days. Don’t fold a piece of darn laundry till the weekend!

Love your single self while you can!

Embrace Your Appearance

You’re too skinny. Too fat.

Your hair is too kinky. Too tangly.

You’ll come up with any and every excuse as to why you haven’t attracted “the one” yet.

Most of the time; however, it’s not your appearance.

It’s likely how you carry yourself in that appearance.

If you dress for work like you don’t want to be approached by the cute guy in IT or the hot girl in the accounting department, then you won’t be approached.

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But if you dress like you feel positive and wonderful, then positive and wonderful people will take notice.

(And if they’re not so positive and wonderful, hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little flattery!)

The experience of not being ashamed of my hair or body was never something I could explore in some past relationships. But now, I have a very special appreciation of my body that only I understand. And I shouldn’t have to bend on that to find a mate.

Even better: appreciating your body starts with you. You can take that yoga class, cycling course, or kick boxing class knowing you did it to improve YOU for YOU, not for someone else.

Apply Laser Focus to Your Career

Let’s face it.

Most of us don’t like our jobs.

Many feel overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.

But as a single parent, you try to be extra careful of what you do at work. You getting canned could mean doom for your family.

So, instead of secretly hating your job, embrace it. Be thankful for it. Be thankful for the fact that you can provide for your family on your own.

And learn to put more focus into what you like about your job. Love technical writing? Be the go-to person for desk guide creation. Good at number crunching? Become an expert with Microsoft Excel.

Even with tasks or aspects of your job that you don’t love so much, learn to embrace them, but not overly focus on them. Got toxic co-workers? Acknowledge them but don’t entertain them. Your boss is a world class jerk? Figure out what makes them tick and do the opposite. If they decide to be a jerk about everything, tune them out by focusing on new skills for a better job.

You can also utilize your career laser focus off the job too. Learn a new language part time online or at an inexpensive community college. Try your hand at coding for free on the internet. Enroll in that project management course you’ve been putting off for years.

You may find yourself far more successful at your job (or a better job) by simply embracing it more effectively.

Success:

Give Your Passion Laser Focus

Always wanted to sharpen your freelance writer skills?

What ever happened to that website design business you started in college?

As a single parent, you have more time than you realize.

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Even in doing chores and watching the kids during soccer games, you’re thinking about how best to make your life better.

Why not give that passion of yours more focus?

Pay for a finances class to be a better freelance writer so you can start earning side income for your family. Sign up for that entrepreneur course at the community center. With only one person handling the finances, you don’t have to justify investing into your passion to improve your life.

Give Yourself A Book

Sure, you’re a pretty bright solo mom or dad.

But, you can afford to be smarter. Heck, we all can.

If there’s something you’ve been wanting to dabble in (i.e. investing, person finance, gardening, hiking, cooking), read up on it.

They don’t say reading is fundamental for nothing! Being your own teacher is one of the best ways to learn something new. You’re acquiring new information theoretically and organically through your own thought processes and comprehension.

No standardized tests or quizzes necessary!

Reading interesting topics is exercise for the brain, helps you de-stress, and if you’re like me and tend to read around your children a lot, it could help them develop better reading habits as well.

Awakening:

Stop Apologizing

A lot of times, single parents tend to always assume they’ve done something wrong.

They question themselves, their decisions, and their actions a lot because they don’t have another inquisitive adult in the house.

But there comes a point when you simply have to stop apologizing for everything.

Being in constant regret of your decisions could bring about all kinds of unstable feelings. Don’t do it to yourself!

Say what you mean and mean what you say more often. Stand your ground for once and don’t feel the need take anything back.

Furthermore, standing up for what you think and feel builds confidence and inner strength. You may find yourself standing up a little more at work against aggressive coworkers.

Not apologizing doesn’t mean you’ve turned into an insensitive jerk. It just means you stand by what you believe in.

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As the old saying goes:

“Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

Stop Caring…About The Wrong Things

As a writer, I oftentimes receive commentary containing strong opinions!

With some of them I read and reply to them. Others that are filled with inflated insults and disrespect, I simply don’t care to engage with further.

When you stop caring about others’ opinions about you, your craft, your family, or your life, you really begin to live. Living for the approval of others is a quick path to unhappiness.

When you march to the beat of your own drum, the other music kinda dies out in your ears.

What your parents, friends, neighbors, or teachers think about your life becomes a non-issue because you no longer care to give them the energy.

Stop worrying about things you don’t have no control of. For me, I use to stress out about my student loans like it was a terminal disease! When I realized there’s nothing I could do about them but, well, pay them off as best as I could, I seriously stopped caring about it! Giving it more worry than necessary would have sent me to an early demise much faster than raising rowdy kids alone!

Stop Being Ashamed of Your Feelings

Most people do not want their rawest emotions to be felt.

Well, if that becomes a chronic pattern it can easily build up into depression and anxiety in the long run.

Let your feelings be known. If you’re dealing with a stressful working environment, let it be known. In a respectable but direct manner, bring up legitimate concerns of the growing stress you’re feeling at work. You, like everyone else, has a right to a stable and welcoming working environment.

And that’s nothing to be ashamed about.

If you’re stressed out at home, let it be known. Inform your kids of what is really making you sick (stress can lead to serious illnesses) at home and tell them you need their help to cope. Make them do more chores. Demand more respect from them even if it means applying some tough love. If you need to take a vacation without them, do it and don’t be sorry for it!

If you’re in a relationship, allow your feelings to be heard. Tell your significant other what bothers you, regardless how silly he or she may think they are. If they choose not to show respect, that’s a good thing. You now know what direction you should take your relationship.

And that’s nothing to be ashamed about either.

So get out there and start living your life as a more happy, successful, and awakened single parent!

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It)

Children, just like adults, can be depressed. Sometimes seemingly normal children with no major life issues can become depressed. It is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes clinical depression to occur. There are specific signs that you should recognize in your child if they are depressed. Getting them help and treatment is crucial to their mental wellness.

In this article, we will look into the signs of depression in children and how parents can help them to overcome it.

Signs of depression in children

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) is the widely accepted instruction guide that professionals utilize for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM characterizes a Major Depressive Episode as depressed behaviors that consistently last for two weeks or longer. Therefore, if your child has been “down in the dumps”, feeling hopeless or having sadness for more than two weeks, it should be cause for concern and investigated.

Below are signs of depression according to the DSM manual. The individual must have at least five of these behaviors present for a period of two weeks or longer to be officially diagnosed as having MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). Below is a summary/generalization from the DSM manual:

  • Feelings of deep sadness or depressed mood that last most of the day (for two weeks or more). For children they can present as irritable rather than sad.
  • Diminished interest in activities (again majority of the day or all the time).
  • Significant weight loss (not through dieting), or a decrease in appetite. In children, they fail to make expected weight gains while growing.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Either a slowing of psychomotor abilities/actions or an apparent agitation of these psychomotor abilities. This means that they either have moments that lack purpose and seem to be done because of agitation and tension or there is a significant slowness/retardation of their speech and physical actions.
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt every day.
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions, or concentrating every day. This may be reflected in their grades.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying or suicidal thoughts.

Please note that if your child is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is processing through the stages of grief, it is normal to have these signs of depression. If they seem to be stuck in the depression stage, then it is time to pursue grief counseling to help them along in the grieving process.

However, if they are not suffering from a bereavement or a medical condition that would cause the above symptoms, then they should be taken to a professional for possible diagnosis and treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

How to help your child with depression

Depression is not to be taken lightly. Especially if suicidal thoughts are present. The child’s feelings and emotions are real and must be taken seriously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is the number two cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.[1]

Professional help is recommended if you believe your child fits the criterion for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). You can take your child to their paediatrician for an evaluation and referral. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they may benefit from medication such as anti-depressants.

Most professionals do not dispense medication as the first remedy for depression. Instead therapy is the first line of defense against depression, with medication being paired with therapy if the therapy is not enough or the symptoms are severe enough.

Testing

There are assessment tools that professionals can utilize to help in properly determining whether your child is depressed. The three tools used in assessing depression in children are:

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  • The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS)
  • Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)
  • Clinical Global Impression (CGI)

Taking your child to a professional mental health counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help ensure proper testing and assessment occurs.

Therapy

There are many types of therapy available today. It is important to find a professional that specializes in childhood depression and the treatment of such.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the leading therapy methods in treating childhood depression. For younger children, play therapy is useful in treating childhood depression as children are often able to better communicate through play than conversation alone.

What parents can do at home to help their depressed child

Besides seeking for professional help, there are a couple of things that parents can do at home to help their depressed child:

1. Talk with your child about their feelings in a compassionate and empathetic manner.

It can feel high pressure to sit face to face and ask your child about their feelings. However, going on a walk, playing a board game or playing alongside your child (chose whichever is age appropriate for your child) can allow them to relax and open up about their feelings.

Ask your child open ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no to engage in more meaningful conversations. Never judge while they are being open and honest with you because it will inevitably cause them to shut down and move away from being open with you.

It is okay to allow for periods of silence during the conversations because sometimes the child is processing their thoughts and emotions during your time together. You don’t have to fill the space and entire time with talking as silence at times is helpful.

2. Provide activities that help them relax and de-stress.

For smaller children, there are simple ways to help them relax.

Provide play opportunities that they find relaxing such as coloring, painting, working with Play-do or clay, or playing with sand and sand toys. Again, find activities that interest your child and are age appropriate are helpful in making them relaxed.

3. Limit screen time.

Technology is not helpful in making your child less depressed. It can often be an escape that keeps them from further opening up about their feelings and emotions.

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Limit time in front of the TV, laptop, smart phone, video games and tablets, etc. Any electronics that seem to prevent your child from face to face interactions should be limited. Ask Dr. Sears cites that researchers have found kids who have higher levels of screen time are at greater risk for anxiety and depression.[2]

Provide alternate activities to replace the screen time such as hiking, crafting, drawing, constructing, biking and playing outside, etc. Some children may be so dependent on their screen time as their source for entertainment that they may need you to participate in alternate activities alongside them in order to get engaged in the activities.

You can’t simply tell your child to go outside to play if they are suffering from depression, lack friends and are used to sitting down and playing video games each day after school. Go outside with your child and do a nature hike or take your child to a playground and have fun together to get them engaged in these alternate activities.

4. Promote outdoor time and physical activities.

Encourage your children to take part in activities that especially involve nature such as nature hikes. Do these activities with them to help them engage in the activities. Again this is an opportunity for open conversations to occur and quality time to take place.

5. Help your child when problems and difficult tasks arise.

Assist them by helping them break down the task into smaller and more manageable parts. Children with depression often have difficulty taking on large problems and tasks and find them overwhelming. Helping them by breaking down the task into smaller and more manageable tasks will assist in helping raise their confidence when the small tasks are mastered.

Small tasks mastered lead to bigger tasks being mastered over time. It is a process over time, patience and a willingness to work alongside your child. This does not mean doing the task or taking on the problem solely yourself. Many times all the child needs is for you to break down the larger task into smaller more manageable tasks and for you to patiently talk your child through the completion of these smaller tasks.

6. Help your child reduce life stress.

When children are depressed, they have greater difficulty handling life activities in general. Cut back on activities that cause stress to increase and look for ways to help reduce stress in your child’s life.

7. Foster a positive home atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate negative attitudes, language and conversations. Also avoid raised voices, passive aggressive behaviors and any form of physical violence in the home.

Make your home a safe haven for your child instead of an atmosphere that is ever volatile (in words, emotions or physically). Make it a calm environment that makes your child feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally and physically.

8. Help your child see the positive in life situations.

Point out the positives in a situation rather than the negatives. Help them see the bright side of any situation.

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Be a model of seeing the positive in life by speaking words that are uplifting, encouraging and positive. Resist the temptation to voice negative thoughts that come to mind as your child can feed off your emotions and words.

9. Believe your child when they talk about how they are feeling.

Listen to them patiently and take their words seriously. Do not discount or minimize their feelings. Express empathy and compassion when they do open up about their feelings. Help them utilize “I feel” statements in expressing their emotions.

10. Keep watch for suicidal behaviors.

Such behaviors include your child/teen researching this topic online, them giving away their possessions and a preoccupation with death.

Seek professional help immediately with the presentation of suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Keep this number on hand and use it when in doubt: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number 1-800-273-8255.

11. Keep all prescriptions, alcohol, drugs and weapons locked and away from children and teens.

This is a given for all children, but even more imperative for children who are depressed as they have an increased likelihood to abuse drugs and alcohol. They also have an increased likelihood to attempt suicide. So keep weapons and tools such as ropes and knives that can used for suicide out of the child’s ability to use.

12. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child.

Make the time during your day, every day, to spend quality time with your child. You may have limited time and cannot provide an hour or more a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your child, but you should provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day with your child spending quality one-on-one time together. Try the suggested activities listed in point #3.

13. Be an encouragement and supporter of your child.

Show love and not frustration or anger because of the situation and your child’s condition. Help keep your attitude positive so your child can also see the positive.

Provide daily words of affirmation that are not based on end results (such as a grade or a win) but instead praise the effort they put forth. If you praise the outcome, they will be disappointed when their efforts don’t pan out. If they are praised for their efforts regardless of the outcome, their confidence is built based upon something that they can control (the effort they put into things).

14. Help your child to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is a very important factor in your child’s mood. Not getting enough sleep can cause an entire day to be upset. According to Sleep Aid Resource, children between the ages of 3 and 18 need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep each night:[3]

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    Ensure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting physical activity/exercise daily and plenty of sleep time.

    15. Help your child foster positive relationships and friendships with their peers.

    Set up play dates for your younger child and encourage older children to invite friends over to your home.

    16. Talk about bullying.

    It can be one of the causes of your child’s depression, so discuss their life outside of home and their interactions with their peers. Help them recognize bullying and discuss how to handle bullying properly.

    17. Help your child follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

    Make sure you know the treatment plan that your child’s health care professional has outlined for child. This may include counseling session recommendations, medications and recommendations to follow through with in the home. Completing the plan will help provide optimal results for your child in the long run. A plan doesn’t work unless it is followed.

    18. Recognize that professional treatment takes time to show results.

    Don’t expect results for the first few weeks. It may take a month or longer, so be patient and understanding with your child.

    Depression in children is curable

    Depression in children can happen for a variety of reasons. It is quite treatable.

    Professional help is recommended if your child can possibly be diagnosed with a depressive episode. There are interventions that can be implemented in a professional setting, at home and at school. The key is having a plan of action to help your child.

    Ignoring the problem or hoping the depression will just go away is not a good plan. Treatment is imperative to curing depression in children.

    The first step is talking to your child’s paediatrician to get the ball rolling. He or she will refer you to specialists in your area that can help your child overcome and conquer their depression one day at a time. With you by their side, each step of the way you will get through it together and it is quite possible for your relationship with your child to be strengthened in the process as well. That can be your silver lining or positive outlook on the situation at hand.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide
    [2] Ask Dr. Sears: It’s a Virtual World: Setting Practical Screen Time Limits
    [3] Sleep Aid Resource: Sleep Chart

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