Help! I Lost Our Home and I'm Feeling Overwhelmed!

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, Work Life, Resources, Single Parenting, Expert Advice: Just For You, Expert Advice: Home Base

Dear AdviceMama,

How do you keep the upper hand when you are a single parent raising three kids in today's economy? I lost my house and we had to move back in with my parents (that is an entirely different issue), but I sometimes feel like I am losing at every turn. I work full time, and then only see my kids for two or three hours before bedtime. After that, I have to figure out cleaning, laundry and relaxing. Everyone says it should be easy, but it isn't. Any suggestions? Thank you!

Hard Times

Dear Hard Times,

I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your house, and have had to navigate the many challenges that have come with that. You -- and many parents in your difficult situation -- have had to stretch well beyond what you probably imagined when you started your family. Pat yourself on the back for taking care of yourself and your children in the midst of such difficult times.

A mother's work is never done. There are always clothes to wash, meals to make and messes to clean up. Add to that a child's endless need for help with homework, friends and siblings, and it's clear that any parent who thinks they can do it all is dreaming.

Whoever told you it should be easy had no idea of the demands in your daily life. It's tough to relax when you feel bombarded by an endless list of things you should do. But you will be better able to get the upper hand if you focus your energy where you get the greatest payoff: staying connected with your children, taking care of yourself, and doing those things that are essential at a pace that's realistic.

Write down all the chores that need to happen each day and see where you can involve the children in helping out, or perhaps barter certain tasks (like carpooling) with other parents. Prioritize your evenings to include time to have fun with your family, without every interaction being about checking something off your to do list.

Most of all, focus on what's going well in your lives right now so you can feel a sense of accomplishment, instead of constantly feeling weighted down by what you didn't get done.

External circumstances don't have to determine your sense of well-being. Remember the saying, "When Mom's happy, everybody's happy?" Ease up on the demands and expectations you've imposed on yourself, and enjoy the sweet moments of your life, as it is, while taking baby steps toward creating a better life for all of you.

Yours in parenting support,


AdviceMama, Susan Stiffelman, is a licensed and practicing psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in developmental psychology and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, is available on Amazon. Sign up to get Susan's free parenting newsletter.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.