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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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Published on October 19, 2018

The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant

The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant

Are you scared of working out whilst pregnant? Or simply not sure how to proceed? Everything seems slightly more daunting once you’re carrying and creating a whole other person.

In this article I will give you specific advice, tips and strategies for working out while pregnant. Ensuring that you, and your baby, are safe. Not only that but you will both benefit.

Benefits of Working Out While Pregnant

It is clear that everyone, not just you but your baby, and probably your partner and other kids will benefit from you working out while pregnant. If you’re sleeping better and feel less stress, you can guarantee everyone in the household is going to feel better.

How you benefit from working out while pregnant:

  • Reduced incidence of lower back pain
  • 30% reduction in the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduced likelihood of unplanned cesarian
  • Lower incidence and reduce severity of depression
  • Less pregnancy weight gain
  • Lower risk of urinary incontiennce
  • Reduced pregnancy constipation
  • Less pregnancy tiredness
  • May have a shorter labour

How your baby benefits from working out while pregnant:

  • A healthier heart
  • Normal birth weight
  • Quicker neurological development
  • Reduced risk of respiratory distress syndrome (for infants of high-risk women)
  • Less maternal stress could reduce impact on immune system development

Instant Big-Rocks for Working out While Pregnant

Before we get cracking into what really will benefit, here are some instant ‘big-rocks’ when it comes to working out while pregnant.

Safety first: Check with your midwife

Each person and pregnancy is individual – and as I”m not speaking to you in person, the first pre-qualifier is that you check with your doctor that you’re ok to work out while pregnant. In certain circumstances, it is not recommended due to potential complications arising from exercise.

If you’re new to exercising or have just fallen pregnant do check with your GP or midwife before commencing or recommencing your exercise program.

Exercise Check In Second – No lying Flat or Crunches

Crunches are a whole other issue in regards to pre and post natal training that I’ll get into during another article.

For now, know that lying flat on your back puts pressure on your body, especially after 16 weeks. The weight of your bump pressing on certain blood vessels can reduce cardiac output, make you feel dizzy and affect the flow of blood that carries nutrients and oxygen to your baby.

While this means traditional stomach crunches are out, you can and should still include core and pelvic floor strengthening exercises in your routine. These I’ll get to later in the article.

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Third Intensity Check In – No High Intensity Workouts

When it comes to exercise intensity, it is best to abide by the guideline “to be able to comfortably hold a conversation” whilst working out. Unless you are an athlete and extremely used to very high heart rates whilst you workout, keeping your rate of perceived exertion to a 7 out of 10 is best practice.

Experts agree that you should avoid undertaking activities that will raise your core temperature by more than 2°C – or above 38.9°C. This is because such a temperature change may result in hyperthermia (the opposite of hypothermia). Hyperthermia during pregnancy has been linked to a twofold increase in the risk of birth defects impacting the spine or brain.

As such, it is not advisable to use hot tubs or spas during pregnancy, and hot yoga should be avoided as well as parking in only moderate intensity exercise.

Final & Fourth Point – No high contact/dangerous sports

For obvious reasons, contact sports or sports in which it’s likely you can fall or have an accident should be avoided.

For example scuba diving while pregnant should be avoided as your baby will have no protection against decompression sickness (‘the bends’) or gas embolism – bubbles in the bloodstream that can cut off blood supply or cause breathing difficulties.

Similarly, horse riding, climbing, cycling, gymnastics and other activities that require extreme balance are best avoided as your centre of gravity shifts and affects your balance.

Certainly, sports like kick boxing, jujitsu or rugby in which contact is prevalent should be avoided for bump protection.

Actual Workouts You Can Do While Pregnant

1. Let your personal trainer or group exercise instructor know that you’re pregnant

In doing so they can assist you in providing expert advice or refer you to a qualified practitioner in your area. If you’re unsure ask your GP or Midwife for a referral.

2. Use your breath to engage your core and pelvic floor throughout your workout programs

Your breath plays a big part in controlled core to assist with labour and reduce back pain. We each take thousands of breaths per day, as as your baby grows pressure is placed upon the lungs and pelvic floor.

Preparing and practicing proper breath ensures that your core remains as integrated and activated as possible throughout and after your pregnancy.

3. Find a Holistic Core Restore Coach

The reason the Holistic Core Restore® programmes are more effective than performing keels or traditional abdominal exercise alone for true core restore and pelvic floor activation. A Hollisitc Core Restore Coach will work with you to integrate your core and pelvic floor with your whole body through a series of movements and lifestyle factors.

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4. Join a Pre & Post Natal Class

Join a Pre & Post Natal Class in order to move in specific ways designed to boost your health and recovery post birth.

This not only provides you with a chance to connect with other pre & post natal women in your area to and create a community; but also provides you access to pre & post natal experts who can give you tailored advice for exercising whilst pregnant.

5. Focus on strengthening the glute muscles

Focus on strengthening the glute muscles to counteract the anterior tilt produced by your expanding bump.

Most people will simply focus on keeping the core engaged and active to help the ‘pre-mummy-tummy’ bounce back. When in actual fact the synergist muscle to the core for pelvic stability is the butt.

Really focus on strengthening the glute muscles in order to support the core, posture and back.

Hinge movements such as single leg romanian deadlifts are a brilliant way to do so. You can do this holding a Kettlebell or Dumbell but also, once the bump is big enough just using your bodyweight.

6. Enjoy swimming

Enjoy swimming, especially in your third trimester, to remove weight and boost lymphatic drainage of your feet and ankles.

It’s well known that your ankles swell during the last months of pregnancy. This is due to the changes in posture from the weight of the stomach pulling down towards the floor.

Consequently, this causes the front of the hip to become compressed. And this in turn reduces circulation of the lymphatic fluid in the lower body.

One way to improve this circulation is to get into water as the pressure from the water removes the weight of the bump whilst providing pressure to the legs improving circulation.

7. Bring layers to your workouts

Bring layers to your workouts so that you can add and remove layers as you warm up and cool down.

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As previously mentioned, changes in body temperature can be dangerous for the baby – using layers so that you can keep your temperature constant is one the the most simple and best things you can do whilst working out while pregnant.

8. Practice the 7 fundamental primal movement patterns in your workouts

Practice the 7 fundamental primal movement patterns in your workouts – squat, lunge, anti-rotate, push, carry, hinge, pull.

“We love pregnant mamas to be regularly training their squats, since a low squat is the ideal position for working through contractions and pushing during labor.”

They also improve pelvic floor strength and elasticity to help prevent tearing during the natural labor process and teach abdominal strength relative to hip mobility for an easier labor and faster postnatal recovery.

Kiberd and her team prefer front squats done with at least a 12-kilogram kettlebell held at the chest. (Choose an appropriate weight for your level.)

“The kettlebell gives great feedback to the muscles that need to engage to stand you back up and to stabilize your weight while you’re down in the squat,” she explains.

And once the bump gets big? “No weight on the front is needed,” she says. “The belly is that natural weight.”

9. Do exercise that your enjoy

Because really if you’re enjoying it so will bump and you’ll feel less stressed.

Do not making working out while pregnant a chore – if it becomes that way, seek advice from an expert in your gym or area on some new varied things that you can try.

10. Practice anti-rotation exercises

Practice anti-rotation exercises whilst focussing on the breath for core integration and activation.

The Palloff press (a core stabilizer done on a cable machine) and the bear crawls offer the same degree of effectiveness.

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“These two exercises engage the external and internal obliques, which are involved in stabilizing the torso in rotation and help stabilize the shoulders down and back.”

11. Make sure to wind down properly

Cooling down slowly after your workouts and providing a little leeway time before your next appointment will reduce your stress levels and help you feel more balanced.

It will also stop sharp changes in body temperature that are non-beneficial to your baby.

Take your time and enjoy each session for what it is.

The Bottom Line

You will have to make fitness modifications as your body changes, but deep down, you know that’s ok. Dr Dawn Harper says

“We’re now seeing evidence that exercising in pregnancy may be one of the best things you can do for your baby’s future health. Pregnancy exercise can have a huge impact on your personal experience of pregnancy, too. Provided you follow the expert guidelines, it’s safe for most women to continue and even start exercising in pregnancy. Just make sure you check with your midwife or doctor first, in case there are any specific medical reasons why you should avoid being physically active in pregnancy.”

There are certain things that are essential. The first being to check with your Dr/Midwife to be given the ‘OK’ to exercise.

There are definite ‘no-nos’ such as abstaining from contact or dangerous sports as well as performing extreme high intensity workouts that bring your heart rate and temperature very, abnormally high for you. It is also contraindicated that you perform any exercises lying on your back.

The exciting thing is that you can and should exercise. You simply have to adapt to what is possible by seeking advice of a local pre & post natal expert. If you take one sentence away let it be this:

Focus upon your breath, workout at a 7/10 level, strengthen your glutes and perform whole body integrated exercises preferentially led by a pre & post natal expert.

And finally, if in doubt, get in the pool for some weight off your feet and relax!

References

  1. Pennick V, Liddle SD. Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013(CD0011):1-100.
  2. Sanabria‐Martínez G et al. Effectiveness of physical activity interventions on preventing gestational diabetes mellitus and excessive maternal weight gain: a meta‐analysis. BJOG 2015;122(9):1167-74.
  3. Price BB et al. Exercise in pregnancy: effect on fitness and obstetric outcomes-a randomized trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012;44(12):2263-9.
  4. Domenjoz I et al. Effect of physical activity during pregnancy on mode of delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2014;211(4):401.e1-e11.
  5. Gaston A, Prapavessis H. Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer. Psychol Health 2013;28(12):1353-69.
  6. Robledo-Colonia AF et al. Aerobic exercise training during pregnancy reduces depressive symptoms in nulliparous women: a randomised trial. J Physiother 2012;58(1):9-15.
  7. Perales M et al. Benefits of aerobic or resistance training during pregnancy on maternal health and perinatal outcomes: A systematic review. Early Hum Dev 2016;94:43-8..
  8. Shi W et al. Epidemiology and risk factors of functional constipation in pregnant women. PloS one 2015;10(7):e0133521
  9. Gaston A, Prapavessis H. Tired, moody and pregnant? Exercise may be the answer. Psychol Health 2013;28(12):1353-69.
  10. Barakata et al. Exercise during pregnancy is associated with a shorter duration of labor. A randomized clinical trial 2018, 224 33-40
  11. May LE et al. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy influences fetal cardiac autonomic control of heart rate and heart rate variability. Early Hum Dev 2010;86(4):213-7.
  12. Bisson M et al. Physical activity volumes during pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies assessing the association with infant’s birth weight. AJP Reports 2016;6(02):e170-e97.
  13. Labonte-Lemoyne E et al. Exercise during pregnancy enhances cerebral maturation in the newborn: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2016:1-8.
  14. Muktabhant B et al. Diet or exercise, or both, for preventing excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015 Jun 15;(6):CD007145.
  15. Marques AH, Bjorke-Monsen AL, Teixeira AL, Silverman MN. Maternal stress, nutrition and physical activity: impact on immune function, CNS development and psychopathology. Brain Research. 2015;1617:28–46

Featured photo credit: Jernej Graj via unsplash.com

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