I joined the staff of SPARC Hope one month ago today as the Development Coordinator.  It’s my job to find funds to continue the good work of SPARC Hope.  I’ve been a fundraiser for other non-profits, so I needed to familiarize myself with SPARC Hope and get to work!   I was aware of SPARC Hope’s mission to serve single parents and believed in their dedication to assisting these hard-working individuals.  Having had three children of my own, I knew raising children could be a challenge, but I had a spouse to help.  Yet, there were still MANY days where I was exhausted, frustrated, and questioned my parenting skills.

After one month, it’s become clear to me that single parenting, while working and going to school, has challenges I never thought of.  How will I afford Christmas?  There is an unexpected car repair.  My child is growing so fast, they’re going through clothes and shoes, faster than I budgeted.  Will I ever be able to afford to purchase a home?  How am I going to study for finals, when I’m too tired at the end of the day?

Advice I can give to any parent is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!  A dear friend once told me that she never put her children in timeout.  She put HERSELF in timeout.  When the day was overwhelming, she’d make sure the children were in a safe space then go into her bedroom for just a few minutes to breathe, pray, and remind herself she was doing the best she could!  Take a walk on your meal break at work or after classes.   Designate a ‘quiet time’ for you and the children every day.  If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not able to be the best parent, student and/or employee you can be.

My children are grown adults now.  I love how I’m not only still their mom but their friend.  Our conversations are much different now then when they were navigating the elementary school playground, middle school mean girls, and high school cliques.  We ask each other for advice concerning work, relationships and their parenting challenges.  However, it still seems like yesterday that I was changing diapers, cooing over their smiles and giggles and watching “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” with my son while we waited for his sister to come home from kindergarten.  Cherish each moment – the good and the bad.  They will only be this age for a short time.  When you become frustrated with your young ones, ask yourself if this will really matter in 5 years.  Probably not.  I think of the many things I got upset about then that were unimportant in the long run.  Be your child’s cheerleader!  I have a feeling, they’re your biggest fan!

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Check out some of our other blog posts here, for tips and tricks for single parents, budget hacks, and more information about what we do here at SPARC Hope.