Are you a single mom and need some help

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How to set goals, say goodbye to guilt, and look on the bright side. As I glanced down at my little baby, my backpack overflowing with diapers, bills, bottles, and toys and a big bag of trash that desperately needed to be tossed -- I thought to myself: How can I possibly carry all this stuff? And who's here to help me?

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Looking back now, I realize that as a first-time single mom with a new baby on board, I was clearly emotional, exhausted, and stressed. But in that moment, I was also struck with the reality of being on my own with to raise, bills to pay, a household to run, and only 24 hours in the day.

No wonder I felt frazzled! More than four years later, I can safely say that being a single mother has at times been difficult and demanding, but it's also had great rewards. If you're a single parent -- by circumstance or by choice -- you'll no doubt hit some bumps and turns along the way. Here are six strategies that can help you weather the rough times and enhance the joy of parenting.

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Carlena Seep-Gaither, a central Minnesota single mother of two, has long relied on a solid network that includes her best friend, her parents, and other parents in her community. Even now that her kids are 6 and 4, Seep-Gaither still receives an emotional and hands-on booster from her team when the going gets tough. For Tracy Shaw of Southbury, Connecticut, life wouldn't be the same without her Wednesday night supper club she and three other families from her daughter's daycare center take turns cooking mealsa reasonably priced handyman, a support group called Parents Without Partners, a circle of friends, and reliable babysitters.

It's sometimes hard for single moms to ask for help -- or even admit they need it.

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As single mom Leane Vinogradov, of Calgary, Alberta, aptly puts it: "I've often been to the point of tears and filled with guilt before I could pick up the phone. If -- like many single moms -- you feel uncomfortable asking for help, or worry that you're being a burden to busy family and friends, try to trade services with other parents.

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Knowing that she had a babysitting partner nearby "saved me money -- and my sanity," she says. But single mothers need to be realistic about what they can -- and can't -- accomplish in a day, she adds. What's more, they shouldn't feel as though they have to overcompensate just because they're parenting on their own or going through a separation or divorce. For instance, it's okay to serve cereal or a fast-food meal for dinner every now and then, as long as your child's overall diet is healthy.

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And it's fine to have a less-than-spotless house if it gives you more time with your. No matter what your reason for being a single mother, you're probably well acquainted with a nagging sense of guilt -- about working too much or too littlenot having enough time or money, being embattled with your ex, wanting to provide a sibling for your child, feeling that your family is "fractured" or less than ideal -- you name it!

But while it's always easy to find something to feel guilty about, "it helps to focus on what's good and right about your family rather than on what's wrong or lacking," Mattes says. Ask yourself, for instance, whether your children are loved and well cared for; whether their basic needs are being met in a consistent, dependable way; and whether your home is a warm and happy place to be.

And this helps me put my guilt away in the proverbial drawer. Even if you share custody with an ex-husband or partner, you probably find it hard to get through all the things on your must-do list each day. Some single moms have long-term ambitions, like going back to schoollosing weight, starting a new relationship, or moving to a better neighborhood. But for many moms, the most immediate, sanity-saving goals involve finding some much-needed personal time -- whether it's going out one night a week or monthlistening to music, writing in a journal, getting fresh air and exercise, or spending a few minutes a day in quiet reflection.

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But at least I get to live in a fictional world for a few minutes every day," she says. Aside from setting goals, single mothers need to take care of themselves. Whether it's making sure you eat well, taking time to exercise, keeping in touch with friends, getting enough rest, or even seeking professional counseling if you need it -- you'll be a better mom if you make yourself a priority.

Finally, it's important for all single women to try to create a peaceful and harmonious home life. For some mothers, this means putting aside bitter feelings toward their ex or finding ways to minimize past -- and present -- resentments. Karen George, for instance, still struggles to forgive her ex-husband for the demise of their eight-year marriage and family life. Adds Tracy Shaw: "Over the past few years, I've worked hard, read books, subscribed to Web sites, attended counseling, prayed -- all in a commitment to making my divorce a transition, rather than a devastatingly bitter legacy, for my daughter.

By Laura Broadwell October 03, Save Pin FB More. Laura Broadwell is a writer in Brooklyn, New York, and a single mother. By Laura Broadwell. Be the first to comment! Close this dialog window Add a comment. Add your comment Cancel Submit.

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Are you a single mom and need some help

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