There were a couple of things I learned early on in my single parenting journey. First, I learned it was extremely easy to feel like a martyr and be almost always miserable every single day or I could make up my mind to create ways to be happy. The second thing I observed and learned was that my children would….without missing a beat….imitate whatever kind of mood I was reflecting! Honestly, this was exactly what was happening.Our children do have this tendency to follow our lead when it comes to moods and attitudes! It didn’t take long for me to decide to do what ever I could to make this new journey a positive one. I started by making the decision to find ways to turn simple, ordinary activities into fun ones. Of course, I wasn’t always successful. Quite frankly, the day the babysitter lost my 2-year-old and four city policemen searched my house and the neighborhood looking for him wasn’t funny. And when they checked again and found him asleep under a pile of clothes on the floor of my teen-aged daughter’s closet, that was downright embarrassing. With practice, however, I became rather good at this “happy days’ plan and the children caught on, as well.
The secret of keeping us happy is to get into the habit of planning something fun for us to do every single day! Did you notice I said “planning”? We don’t sit around and wait for something fun to come to us. We must plan it, schedule it and make it happen. In the beginning, I began this new single parenting role feeling really sorry for myself and guilty because of what my singleness had done to the children. These days were not pretty. But when I started to make sure that I had something fun planned for me every day, the other duties didn’t seem so bad. I started looking forward to treating myself to something pleasant on a daily basis. It was working. I was finding I was actually feeling good. And as the old saying goes, “when mama or papa is happy, everybody is happy!” I wasn’t planning big, long, daily outings for myself. I was planning nice little things to uplift me like buying myself my favorite expensive candy and hiding it and giving the kids the cheap stuff! Or I would plan a certain time to call a girlfriend who always has a way of making me laugh and chat for a nice break. Sometimes I would announce that I was going to have a quiet cup of tea and read my book. Of course, I reminded the children that anyone who even dared to interrupt me unless there was a fire would have dishwasher duty and garbage take out duty for the rest of the week. I meant it and it worked! Sometimes I would surprise the children and make them a treat. I would place oreo cookies on a cookie sheet….place them in a heated oven for a few minutes and then tell the kids I baked them! You know, I think one or two of my children still believe that story!