I’m preparing to teach a “parenting teens” class at my church and as I work on my curriculum, I find myself considering the single moms who will attend. How will they feel about my advice to spend individual time with each child? How will they feel about my recommendation to make sure they get time to themselves each week to recharge? What will they think about my assertions that a daily quiet time, preferably in the morning, is vital? I know what they’ll think–because I’ve been there.
At a certain stage in my single parenting, when I had a teenager, a pre-teen, and a young one, I would have rolled my eyes and my thoughts would have gone something like this:
Time with each child individually? Um…I’m working to put food on the table, and then I spend my evening getting through homework, baths, laundry, packing lunches…I’m not taking one kid to Applebees. Not happening.
Me time? Is she kidding? Who’s going to watch my kids while I go to the spa? Oh…and who’s going to pay for that babysitter…and the spa? 
Daily quiet time? Yeah. I mean, good goal and all…but when I fall into bed at midnight, I’m not getting up at 5. So…that’s going to have to wait. 
What else ya got? 

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Looking back now, I’ll am reminded that my frustrations were founded in my reality. I wasn’t playing a sympathy card. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I was simply doing what I had to do to parent my kids alone–and it was hard work. But you know what? Life is not a whole lot different today. I have five kids at home (three of them are five–triplets), I have to work to provide half of the income for my family, and my husband works overnights starting at 3pm. So, I’m still alone as a parent a lot of times. I still have bills to pay–more of them actually. I have more kids in the house than I did then, and I still fall into bed at midnight and have to wake up early.
Family is work. Parenting is HARD. But there are some basics that are important commitments to make no matter what the circumstances are. To me, these are non-negotables:
Spend quality, fun time with your kids–laugh together.
Take a break–there are people who will help you if you reach out.
Have your daily quiet time. When your relationship with God is front and center, the rest falls into place.

“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chr. 15:7, ESV

download (19)Nicole O’Dell, author of 21 books since 2007, founder of Choose NOW Ministries writes and speaks to youth, women, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents, pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues and was recently endorsed by Focus on the Family. Visit www.nicoleodell.com for access to her bustling blog network and other resources.

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The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com