Engaging support made all the difference to my life. It can change yours too!
It’s interesting when you start talking to people just how differently others view things. A persons view or understanding of support is one of those things and I believe it is often shaped by the type of support that they experienced when growing up.
As a single parent many people have often said “oh it must be hard” or things like “hats off to you” and “you’re doing a great job” but I wonder do they think about what it takes to do that job. I rarely find they ask if I have support and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for a lot of other single parents out there.
Because I am parenting alone I’ve had to put in place a support network of sorts to help me get by each week, because what if I get sick? How do I get my son to school, who helps me take care of the kids or give me time to get better? Reality is – if I didn’t have support – no one, I would just have to get by.
Recently when chatting with a group of mums one of them mentioned about how another mum – not present- had been quite unwell. That mum has moved to our area from interstate and has no family or previous friends here to help. It was stated how great it was that she had already made some friends who have been able to help her out with the kids as her hubby was away with work. He travels frequently and then she is essentially parenting alone. I thinks it’s great that people had offered to help so she could rest and get better. I’ve never had that kind of support from people around me and I mentioned it, maybe I shouldn’t have but it’s what sparked this blog post. One mum present said to me “but your daughter goes to daycare.” Does that matter, does it help, and is this her version of support? My thoughts are YES, and for me this works, but what makes people think that because my daughter goes to daycare that I am ok or coping any better. Parenting in any form is hard work and we all need support.
Support might mean different things to everyone but I really believe it’s a vital part of our wellbeing and ongoing happiness.
I instinctively knew that I needed support after my separation and I know from personal experience that you can feel supported even without family or friends to help.
How do I know this? Because…
In those darkest days I felt well supported due to the fact that I actively sort out the type of supports that would make a difference to my life.
- I had a family violence support work who I developed a great working relationship with and I knew I could call at any time to talk things out.
- I put my kids in daycare because I needed to (and that was ok),
- I even engaged a family support work through ChildFirst, which was a really hard thing to do but it helped so much.
- I got myself a great counsellor who I could see weekly.
And this was my support network!
It was enough to get me by and allow me the time to get better, adjust to parenting alone and navigate some of the challenges that you face after family violence.
Even though I am now over the trauma of the separation, I have continued to keep up some kind of support in our life because quite frankly it keeps me sane. The kids and I moved to be closer to my family for extra support in 2015 and I can say that I really felt it at times when the support was not there. I stopped seeing my counsellor because of the move and I have really battled at times with this and it’s meant I have done a lot of the work on my mental health alone. I don’t recommend this but if you have someone in your life that you can talk to and bounce ideas off then it might be ok. Without this little bit of support in my life I think I could quite easily slide back into depression because every day would be a struggle!
It’s really important to identify what your needs are!
Then to seek out the support in those areas. You can do it by understanding where you are at NOW!
If you go back and look at your life wheel, you can see the areas that need work and it might mean you need to find support so you can work on these areas to find more balance.
You need to look for the support you need, you need to ask for support and you need to be open to receiving the support. Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t see it as a weakness but rather as a strength because you understand your needs.
Make sure you also regularly check in to see if the support is working for you and meeting your needs. You will know if it is by the way you feel or manage day to day things. You will see a shift in the way you feel and if you don’t then the support is not meeting your needs.
In the end it is really important to your long term happiness as it allows you the time and ability to work on other areas of your life. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and if it’s not possibly right now, then look for something else that will make a difference.
Take the time now to think about how you could feel more supported in your life. What is missing, what do you need help with, what would make even the smallest difference for you and your family?
Sometimes it helps to talk things over with someone else, so if you’re struggling to pin point what kind of support you might need you can leave a comment here or email me and I will try to help.
Likewise if you have a story about how support has changed your life then share it here so others can see it does make a huge difference.
Until next week…