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3 Reasons Single Parenting Has Its Advantages

3 Reasons Single Parenting Has Its Advantages

It’s an incredible honor to bring a life into the world; to nurture, love and educate a child and watch them grow. It’s an inexplicable love for a little life, there’s no denying that. It’s the greatest gift and most consuming feeling of love and protection and I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced it.  Let’s not sugarcoat it though, being a parent is hard work.  Kids should come with a manual.  I’ve had job interviews that were tougher for positions which were much easier to actually do.  Parenting can be relentless, tiring, expensive and damn hard work. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens when your village is just one person – you.

As a single parent I understand and live the exhaustion.  I get it.  I understand there is no break. Ever. The need to duck out for a haircut or go to the dentist becomes an orchestrated nightmare. Yes, single parenting has its drawbacks.  You become a mum and a dad instantly.  Double the work.  Double the responsibility. Double the exhaustion.  It can be quite tough.  Whilst it has its definite challenges, I’ve come to realize that it absolutely has some amazing advantages, ones that I would never have expected.

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Here’s 3 reasons why being a single parent has some advantages.

1. The buck stops with you

When you are a single parent, all the decisions lie solely with you.  This can be a double edged sword at times, especially when it comes to discipline, but most of the time it’s a blessing.  Arguments with a partner regarding how to parent your child, and things like where and how you choose to educate them for example, are not an issue.  It’s liberating. There is an enormous amount of pride associated with knowing that you have raised a child on your own and made every decision in regards to each and every aspect of their life.  It’s an incredible achievement, a big responsibility and one to be extremely proud of.

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2. You grow as a person

Partnered or otherwise, being a parent is the most difficult job you will undertake.  Children are incredibly demanding and they take an enormous amount of energy to raise.  Solo parenting kicked my butt hard.  You learn fairly fast there is no-one  to fall back on financially, emotionally or to bounce parenting ideas or achievements off, therefore your level of responsibility forces you to grow fast, find answers, solutions and be resourceful. Your level of growth is swift and steep, and you become a better person and single parent because of it.

3. You become more organized

I wasn’t prepared for the enormity of this one.  Gone are the flaky days of getting home from work and realizing you don’t have milk in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow morning.  Situations like these can and will cause me to have a minor meltdown as a single parent.  Something as simple as forgetting the milk becomes a prolonged ordeal which involves putting the children into the car, driving to the shops and dragging them through a supermarket filled with strategically placed lollies or toys where tantrums or arguments are almost certain to ensue.  Through experience your organizational skills and ability to think 10 steps ahead and juggle become so finely tuned you feel like you could run the world.

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Being a parent is hard – period, being a single one presents quite a few more challenges.  Regardless or not of whether you are doing this alone or partnered, the rewards are returned to you ten fold. I’m not going to tell you that it is easy, but what I will tell you is it’s worth it, and as a single parent, you are doing an absolutely stellar job.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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