When the Kids are Gone: Tips for Single Parents

Being a single mother is stressful. It’s challenging and chaotic. It’s so easy to be stretched too thin and exhausted.

What’s even harder, though, is the time away from them. That was so hard for me and to be honest, for years I dealt with our separations the wrong way. The pain can be intense when we must leave our children due to work or custody sharing and that time is only edifying if it is filled with holy things. The time must be filled with giving yourself to Jesus in some form or another. That can mean solitary prayer or volunteering your time in service to others, but it can’t be idle.   

Idle hands have led me astray more than I care to admit. So I’m going to suggest some things to do when life is crushing you.

  1. Volunteer–find someone somewhere in need of something. Don’t take anything for yourself; just offer it all to Jesus.
  2. Pray–Open your heart to the Holy Spirit and get carried away by grace. Get out your Bible and holy books. Let Jesus speak to you.
  3. Work–Keep busy with things that actually need to be done, whether at work or at home, so you feel like you’ve accomplished something meaningful.
  4. Clean–Yes, this is a job that’s never done, but it can kill time and you will feel better for having done it. 
  5. Reach Out–People around you are hurting and need love. Go visit or call them. Love them.
  6. Enjoy friends–Surround yourself with people who care about you, who make you laugh, and whose company you enjoy. 
  7. Get Outside–Soak in the sun!
  8. Get a hobby–Plant some flowers, learn to paint, join a book club, or learn to swing dance.
  9. Work Out–Throw your energy into taking care of your body, as well as your soul.
  10. Write Lists–Make a list of goals, things to do, things not to do, of what matters. Use the lists to go forward.
  11. Heal Your Heart–It’s a painful place, but feel it. Feel the pain so you can process it and let go. That’s the only way to get the pain out. Cry. Hurt. Forgive the other person. Forgive yourself. 

I encourage everyone in transitional places to cling to the sacraments and to be easy with yourself. Transitional periods of life can take us through a living hell, but you can come out of the fire  stronger and closer to God.  

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