Editor's note: This article was originally published on Lindsey Bell's blog. It has been republished here with permission.
I don't know how you do it
Really, I don't.
When I've had a rough day at home with the kids and my husband gets home, he often gives me a few minutes to myself.
You don't get that.
When I want to get groceries without little ones clinging to my legs, I have the option of leaving my children at home with my husband.
I also have the choice of getting to work outside the home or stay at home with my kids. You have to work because you are the sole source of income for your family.
And that's just brushing the surface on the complexities of single parenting. We haven't even touched on the financial difficulties, co-parenting complexities, scheduling problems, etc.
So allow me to give you the credit you deserve. You are wearing the shoes of two parents, trying to fill the role of not just mom, but also dad.
That's a hard job for anyone. I'm amazed by what you're able to do, and honestly, you don't get enough credit.
I don't know why your child's father isn't around. Maybe you never really knew him. Maybe he passed away. Maybe he left. Or maybe he travels all the time for work. Regardless of the cause of his absence, you deserve a pat on the back for the hard work you do day in and day out.
I know too many single moms who beat themselves up because their kids don't have a father. They struggle with guilt because they can't give their child the gift of two parents.
Here's the thing, though. Living with guilt won't produce a father figure. All it will do is steal your happiness.
So instead " I want to offer you some ideas. I'm not a single mom, but I know plenty of women who are. And here are some tips these women and others wanted to share with you.
Tips for Single Moms
1. Appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what your life is lacking
This goes for all of us, not just single moms. It's so easy to focus on what we lack instead of what we've been given. Unfortunately, when we focus on what's missing, we miss what we have.
2. Be happy with yourself instead of looking for a man (or anything else, for that matter) to make you happy.
The key to being happy with yourself, I've found, is to find your identity in Christ. Let him make you whole instead of looking to someone (or something) else to fill that void in your life.
3. Raise your kids in church and around godly men
This is especially important if your children's father is not a positive example in their lives. Surround your kids with positive role models, both male and female. Maybe even ask a godly man in your life (a friend or family member) to allow your children to tag along with his family on occasion. Just because your kids don't have a father in their home doesn't mean they can't have a father figure in their lives.
4. Trust God with your life and with the lives of your children
God loves your children even more than you do, and He will be a dependable Father for them at all times.
5. Take guilt-free time away from the kids
And don't just do this for errands. Get a pedicure. Exercise. Get dinner with friends. Do something you love, something that will renew your spirit and encourage you.
6. Build relationships with those who care for your child
Look to these men and women as resources or sounding boards. These people know (and hopefully love) your child and can help you when issues arise.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends
Make your needs known to those around you, because they can't help you if they don't know how to help. (On this same note "¦ Church, reach out to single moms. Think about ways you can minister to them. Some ideas that come to mind "¦ help them with their lawns or with home improvement projects, help them with their vehicles, provide childcare or Mommy evenings out, etc.)
8. Work to co-parent as best you can
This is hard when the other parent is drastically different than you, but it's important for the sake of the kids to do this as smoothly as possible. Avoid speaking poorly of the other parent. Be respectful of your ex. Allow your child to talk about his or her other parent, and don't discourage any positive feelings toward him.
9. Take care of yourself
Get some sleep. Exercise. Eat meals (not just scraps). When you parent 24/7, it's easy to let your own health fall by the wayside. One of my Facebook friends said it well, though: "The healthier you are, the healthier your relationships with your kids will be."
10. Teach your children about money and about depending on God for what you need
It's tempting as a single mom to rely only on yourself. Let your kids see you rely on God for what you need, and they, in turn, will learn to rely on God too.
11. Remember "¦ God is your Maker and your Husband
You can depend on Him, even when everyone else lets you down.
12. Give yourself some credit
Being a single mom is hard, so cut yourself some slack. Don't fall into the guilt trap. Instead, believe in yourself and in the future God has for you.
13. Cut your schedule as needed
Be realistic about the things you sign up for. You are only one person, and you can't do everything.
14. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to fill your child's life with "stuff" to make up for the absence of a father.
First of all, stuff can't fill the shoes of a person. And second, you probably don't have a ton of extra money to spend on stuff anyway.
15. Be his mom
Dr. Kevin Leman says this well in his book "What a Difference a Mom Makes," "You're your son's mom. You're not his dad. Try to be both and you'll fail miserably "¦ But be his mom and work on keeping a heart connection with him, and you'll earn his respect and his love for the rest of his life."