Thursday, May 16, 2013

Survival tips for single mothers

POSTED ON 05/11/2013 8:49 PM | UPDATED 05/12/2013 12:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - “Becoming a single mother involves more than losing a husband,” writes
Jean Lush in her book Mothers & Sons (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1988).

“It may also mean a drop in income, a loss of family friends, and the loss of a home.”

Being a mother is already a challenging role, and being a single mother definitely multiplies the work many times over. The physical, emotional, psychological, economic toll on the mother and her kids are so overwhelming that many single moms draw strength and support from things — people, activities, belief system — other than themselves. You simply cannot do it alone.

Here are 5 single mothers, all doing an excellent job raising their children singlehandedly, but with some help of course from people around them, from things they hold sacred. These are real moms we can all learn from, whether we are with husband or without, whether we are young or old.

Here are some of their best kept secrets, which they are sharing with all of us today on Mother’s Day, so these may help us through rough patches the way these life lessons have helped them weather many storms:

Regina Abuyuan

Regina Abuyuan with her children and fiance Derek Soriano. Photo courtesy of Regina AbuyuanRegina Abuyuan with her children and fiance Derek Soriano. Photo courtesy of Regina Abuyuan

Regina Abuyuan is a Manila-based journalist, handling the Business Agenda section of Manila Bulletin and Seafarer Asia Magazine of Extraordinary Maritime Publishing. She is also managing partner of Center for Blended Learning, and helps run a pub called Fred's Revolucion.

She has 3 children: Simone, 15, and twin boys Marco and Mateo, 9. She is engaged to photojournalist and Fred's Revolucion's el comandante jefe, Jose Enrique Soriano. She has been a single mother since 2003 and gives the following tips from experience:

1. Get a good support circle. Live near your parents. Get good nannies and helpers — and by “good” I mean those who are coachable and reliable. They are your eyes and ears when you are away from the children. This is not to say you can dump your kids at your mom's all the time and rely on the help to watch them while you go off and party or work your butt off. By having a good support team, and by not being too proud to ask for help, you will be able to "balance" your life — work, play, spend quality time with your children, have a little "me time" — to keep your sanity.

2. Know your rights. Ask your company about extra leaves or considerations. Check your other rights here:

3. Be friends with your ex. Provided he isn't abusive, a criminal, or a sex offender, there's no use living in a telenovela and declaring never-ending war on him.

4. Have a nest egg. Spend wisely, save as much as you can; even if you've already fallen in love and are about to share your and your children's lives with a new partner. In many ways, you will always still be "single" — carry that independence into your new relationship.

5. When you fall in love, do so with a man who will take care of your children as his own. This goes without saying that you shouldn't bring home every guy you date and introduce him to your kids as their next daddy. Take your time and introduce him slowly into their lives; and them, into his. There will be resistance, but if you keep gently at it, giving each other equal time and explaining to both sides expectations and limitations, you will be rewarded.

Susan Claire Agbayani

Claire Agbayani with son Gideon Isidro. Photo by Linus LopezClaire Agbayani with son Gideon Isidro. Photo by Linus Lopez

Susan Claire Agbayani has been a single mom to Gideon Isidro (22 years old) for 14 years. She shares the following tips for solo mothers:

1. Pray. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Pray alone, pray with your children, pray with your peers. And never be ashamed to ask others to pray for you and your children; or to pray over you.

2. Read the Bible. Reading the Bible, especially the books Psalms and Proverbs, will help you get through the toughest times. Whether you are a widow or not, there are a lot of passages that refer to widows or single moms, and how the Lord was faithful in providing for them. Check out Elijah 17 and the book of Ruth.

3. Have a support group. No need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Out there are single moms who’ve been there, who've done that. They have the wisdom and experience you may not have at this time but will truly help you get through the toughest trials with their comfort, encouragement, and wise words. Someday, you will be in a position to do the same thing to young and new single mommies.

4. Keep a gratitude journal. When our mom, Carmen Rigor Agbayani, passed away in 2001, I had to tearfully "process" her things. What I found: a Gratitude Journal. While all of us use our journals to rant and rave, this was what she had. When I read her entries, I realized that just by reading it, one is naturally refreshed and inspired to go through the day. I hope that all single moms could do this because life as a single mom is way too difficult. What we need is inspiration. And it can start from us, with us.

Marghieth Garcia

Marghieth Garcia with kids Asti and Kylie. Photo by Garrett Leo AlbertoMarghieth Garcia with kids Asti and Kylie. Photo by Garrett Leo Alberto

Marghieth Garcia is an utterly lucky mom because of her irresistibly huggable, giggly, and sunshiny kids. When she's not engaged in interesting pursuits with Asti and Kylie, she keeps busy working as Philippine Country Representative of Crown Agents, an International Development consulting firm. Here are a couple of tips from her:

1. When kids get restless or start misbehaving, channel their energy into something positive and productive, like asking them to help out with a chore. When Asti and Kylie are acting up, I ignore the fact that they are misbehaving. Instead, I divert their attention by asking them a question to introduce the chore that I want them to help out with, like, “So, kids, how many different kinds of clothes do you have?” When they start answering, we then discuss our ideas on how to go about the chore step-by-step and then I ask them to do it. If they’re particularly argumentative with each other, I give them different things to work on and remind them not to bother with the other’s work and just focus on their own task. Once they are done, I make sure they are given affirmation such as, “Wow, look at how neat your closet is now because you helped out!”

2. Set expectations and rules before heading towards a particular destination to ensure they are safe and behave appropriately. Make sure they understand why these rules are needed. When we go to a park, we identify together markers like lamp posts or trees that delineate up to where they can run around so they remain within a safe and visible zone, or when we’re walking and they want to go at a faster pace, I let them as long as they wait for me before turning the corner so I can see them. When we are heading towards an enclosed public place like a restaurant, especially when there’s a lot of waiting like if I’m going there for a meeting, we agree on what sort of things they can do without disturbing other people. For example, we think of a quiet sit-down game they can play like “I Spy” or they can bring puzzles or the longest, most challenging book they would like to read. If they start getting rowdy, I just remind them of the expectations we had set.

Annabellie Gruenberg

Annabellie Gruenberg with her 'fairies.' Photo by Noeleen OrellanoAnnabellie Gruenberg with her 'fairies.' Photo by Noeleen Orellano

Annabellie Gruenberg is an Integrative Psychologist and life coach, educator, workshop facilitator, and single mom to a 30-year old son. She would like to share these 3 tips with all single moms:

1. Nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Replenish. Single moms usually give and give until they get depleted. The children do not want to deal with a mom who is burned-out and depleted.

2. Be involved with other activities outside the family that make you happy and fulfilled. Widen your world.

3. Develop meaningful and healthy friendships with all genders. The key is real friendships, not necessarily romantic relationships. No desperate moves to be in a romantic relationship. Let it unfold naturally.

Beverly Siy

Beverly Siy with son Sean Elijah Siy. Photo by Ronald VerzoBeverly Siy with son Sean Elijah Siy. Photo by Ronald Verzo

Beverly Siy authored the wildly popular It’s a Mens World (Anvil, 2011). She is mom to a 14-year old boy and is one of the most practical and level-headed mothers you will ever meet. She shares the following tips to help other single moms like herself:

1. Get a health card. So that when your child gets sick, you do not have to spend too much.

2. Photocopy or scan all documents related to you and your son, like birth certificates, latest report cards, etc. so that when the originals get soaked in flood waters or burned or whatever, it’s easier to replace them.

3. Spend as much time together. Bring your children with you on errands, when doing chores, when going on gimmicks, etc. There is one missing parent so it is important that the child does not feel this absence too much. Your child should be able to feel your constant presence.

4. Explore non-traditional destinations or activities with your kid. Avoid malls, visit museums instead (there are plenty of museums that allow free entrance), check out public libraries (you can get in for free), go river trekking (with a guide; this is not too expensive), check out free lessons or free classes. I learned meditation with my son in a temple in San Juan for free. Explore small towns, plazas, churches. Teach your child to be observant.

5. Look for cheap swimming classes. It’s very important that you and your child know how to swim because we cannot avoid bodies of water in our lifetime. At least when your child is in the water, you don’t have to worry.

6. Visit your kid’s school once in a while and talk to his or her teacher. You don’t need to tell your child because, sometimes, a child’s behavior is different in school. At least you would know how he or she is doing.

7. Teach kids to love fruits and vegetables so the child is healthier, and the mother gets to save some money as well.

8. Invest in education early. Make sure your child learns how to study independently early on. Moms will get more free time if the child knows how to study on his or her own. -

Happy Mother's Day to all moms! How are you celebrating the day with YOUR mom? Tweet us your pic @rapplerdotcom, use the hash tag #loveyoumom.

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Sa Rappler unang nalathala ang artikulo. Thank you, Ime!-beb

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