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15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms

When people enter into discussions about single mothers, it unfortunately often carries negative connotations. The single mother is often looked upon by society as a weathered woman who has volunteered to undertake the extremely difficult task of raising children on her own. Though each case is different, it is often a false portrayal of a woman who, despite her circumstances, is doing an amazing job raising a child, or children, single handedly with little to no help.

What most single mothers would tell you is that they are indeed not the dregs of society that most, including the media, may make them out to be, but they are simply women doing the best they can with what they have. They wish to be respected and understood, but are misinterpreted or looked down upon.

So in order to bridge the gap of understanding, here’s a list of the things you may not know about single moms. Perhaps you’ve wondered, too scared to ask in case you offend, or perhaps you are a single mom who wishes to share with others what you wish they knew. Either way, we’re laying it all out for single mothers, everywhere.

1. She is afraid of failing

Like all parents, single mothers work hard to ensure the safety and well-being of their children and themselves. They want to provide a happy home. However, unlike coupled parents, single mothers have the arduous task of shouldering that burden on their own. There’s no one to share the responsibility with if anything goes wrong. So, in order to lessen the stress, she must practice the art of letting go. This means she has to come to terms with not worrying about the things she can’t change, and simply concentrating on the things she can; using her energy wisely so as not to burn out.

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2. She really hates having to juggle

It’s not fun, it’s exhausting, and it means she’s reminded of all the things she must see to. Watching a single mother juggling pick ups, meetings, parent-teacher conferences, bus schedules, and drop-offs makes you realize just how freakishly superhuman she can be. But, as impressive as it may look, she finds no joy in keeping busy just for the sake of looking busy, and would prefer to remove herself from anything that causes any unnecessary stress or drama. This makes her an impressive strategic manager who handles her time and tasks wisely and approaches everything with a little savoir-faire.

3. She feels guilty… constantly

Not being able to see friends or family as often as she wishes, or having to rush off from work the moment the clock strikes 5pm to make it in time for pick-up, fills her with inexplicable guilt. She’s probably aware that people know and understand her situation, but that does nothing to lessen the guilt. She’s used to being on top of things, so when things just don’t go according to plan, or she has to let someone down, she feels the brunt of that more than anything. Yet still, she gives it her all and offers to be there next time. Whether or not she is able to is another matter, but she won’t give up trying!

4. She needs to be private

She would love to share what her oldest told her the other day, or what she found in her daughter’s room, with someone, anyone, but she can’t. As a single parent, she is the only one her kids can confide in and trust regarding certain private matters, or things of a sensitive nature that they wish never to leave the home. She values that trust more than anything. So instead she holds it close to her, even promising to take it with her to her grave.

5. She would appreciate more help

A firm offer of help when she truly needs it is always welcome, but she is aware that many view a single parent’s request for help as a sign that something may be wrong. She doesn’t like to feel incompetent, but unfortunately, the world depicts single moms this way. She would rather do it on her own than be made to feel as though she isn’t doing a good job. Sadly, because of this, she is less likely to ask for help. But letting her know you are there, if ever she needs you, allows her to make the decision. By giving her the opportunity to come to you, it feels like friendly assistance rather than a rescue mission.

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6. She is aware of the stigma

Sadly, she is more than aware of how society views and treats single moms. She is also aware of how the world views children of single parent mothers. However, this does not stop the single mother from being a wonderful parent who is more than capable of raising equally wonderful, happy, and intelligent children. In fact, she works doubly hard to fight the stereotypes and refuses to be pulled down by them.

7. She never really sleeps

Whether it’s that loud bang in the night or the phone ringing at 2am, the single mom is already on it! She is eerily alert, even while sleeping. Being awoken abruptly from sleep, she’s like a meerkat-ninja, with her head held high watching, listening and at the ready for any signs of danger. She’ll jump from her bed and go investigate, seemingly unafraid and at the ready. Once all is well, she will check on her young before heading back to bed. Even daytime naps may be shallow, as she’s keeping one ear poised just in case the school calls. But she’s become a master at short power naps and awakes firing on all cylinders.

8. She is constantly thinking about the future

We’re often reminded to be in the present and to be here, now, if you are truly to enjoy life. And although the single mom is fully aware of how to do this and the benefits it brings, she’s always thinking ahead. Surprises are not the single mother’s best-friend, so a little forethought will help to keep her prepared, just in case. Yes, this can be rather draining, but she feels comfortable thinking and wondering about tomorrow; planning and making decisions about the future safe in the knowledge that if things don’t work out, at least she has some sort of a backup plan, or at the least, an idea of what to do next.

9. She wishes she could go away… alone

After all that planning, juggling, and managing, it’s no wonder she needs a break! A few hours here and there whilst the kids are at school or visiting friends are great, but they only last so long. What she really wants is a 2 week kid-free break away, alone, someone nice and sunny, with plenty of sea and sand; massages, yoga, and sleep! Yes, going away with someone is fun, but in truth, all she wants to do is sleep on the beach without having to worry about someone else. A vacation away on her own means she is able to get back to her, for a bit. Then she will return, ready to go and missing her little angels.

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10. She worries about money

Yes, this is true! However, this means she has had to become an expert at managing her finances. Whether she has it or she doesn’t, money is on constant play and rewind in her mind. She is the breadwinner, the sole provider and accountant for the household, and so she needs to be on top of every penny. The pressure is on. She is able to compartmentalize the household’s finances and has money management down to a fine art.  Whether that means getting the best bargains or coming up with creative ways to save money, she does more than her best.

11. She needs friends who are single, too

Yes, it’s great to have the love and support of other single mothers, but sometimes she would like a break from single mommy land. She needs that separation that only loving single friends can offer. After all, she is a single woman, too. Delving too much into single-mommy stuff can get rather depressing over time. The single friend gives her a chance to step out of that place once in a while, and just be a single gal, rather than a single-girl-mom. No mommy talk, no money talk, no childcare suggestions, just pure fun, and welcomed unattached chatter. Plus, talking about dating disasters is always fun!

12. She dreads punishment

There’s no denying that strong bond that single mothers have with their child; when it’s real, it’s a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, that bond has it’s fair share of up and downs! When it’s time to discipline their child, the responsibility falls solely on the single mom, and it’s rough. She hates having to do it, but knows it must be done. There’s no good cop, bad cop routine going on here, the single mom has to be both; she has to know when to lay down the law, but also how to give the comforting and reassuring hugs after. It may be confusing to onlookers, but it’s the most impressive, and rather scary, double act ever. She manages to discipline and nurture her kids at the same time, as she knows the benefits of both together are endless.

13. She is cautious about dating

Yes, she would love companionship, but she is more than aware that dating comes with its not-so-great moments. And yes, she is familiar with the assumption that she is desperate and lonely, or looking for a father for her children; this is not the case! The confident single mother is not looking for a savior or a knight in shining armour. She is not down and out, and would appreciate it if you didn’t swan in to “save her.” She is more than capable of handling her business. What she would appreciate, however, is someone on her level who is considerate of her situation. Respect her, love her, and treat her like the smart, beautiful, and intelligent woman she is; she doesn’t need to be rescued and doesn’t have time for dodgy dealings. What she needs is a genuine someone, a mature relationship, and a solid friendship based on loyalty, respect, and affection.

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14. She has to be intuitive

Having intuition is great; being able to notice those things often unsaid is an essential part of good parenting. But as a single parent, this skill can often be quite overwhelming, as she cannot afford to be complacent or disconnected. The emotional and mental well-being of her kids rests solely on her shoulders, and this thought is always at the forefront of her mind. Therefore, it’s especially important that she is conscious of those things her children aren’t telling her and is able to follow her hunches, especially where subtle changes in their behavior are concerned. From here, she is able to assess whether or not she needs to step in to help or simply to offer an encouraging hug. Always in tune, and always one step ahead.

15. She doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her

In no way should the single mom’s situation be viewed as a sorrowful case. Things happen in life, as they do to everyone, but she has dusted herself off and has amassed a superhuman strength to make life pretty awesome for her family. There’s no denying she has a lot on her plate, but there’s also no denying she’s strong and capable, and is a loving mother. So if you happen to know a first-class single mom, praise her, hug her, and let her know she’s doing a phenomenal job. And if you happen to be one, smile… you’re doing an awesome job!

Featured photo credit: Mother & Daughter/Rolands Lakis via flickr.com

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Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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