Life As A Single Mother - Fridays with Ferne: Episode #44

As a single mother with two children, life can be complicated. You have a million and one things to do and negative time to do it all. Working, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids... there isn’t enough time for those things, let alone taking time for yourself or a significant other. This week’s Fridays with Ferne episode is about having a life independent of your children. How do you do your own things without feeling guilty for leaving your children behind?

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I'm the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, and today is Fridays with Ferne, and today I have my daughter here with me. Ferne, welcome!

[00:00:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello, hello! Always a pleasure.

[00:00:23] Kim Ades: What are we talking about today?

[00:00:25] Ferne Kotlyar: So today I have a case study, but I'm going to skip the names because sometimes they get a bit confusing. [Chuckles]

[00:00:32] Kim Ades: Okay.

[00:00:32] Ferne Kotlyar: So today we have a case about a lady who is a single mother with two children. And, you know, she's a single mother and most of her life revolves around her children. She wakes up in the morning, she makes them lunch for school, she goes to work, but she gets home and everything's children, children, children, and she feels like she doesn't have any time for herself.

Feels like she doesn't have a life beyond her children, and that kind of the most exciting things for her when something happens for her children. And while that's exciting, she kind of wants as well to have a life of her own, but she doesn't even know where to start or where to kind of build in time for that. So what would you, what would you recommend?

[00:01:20] Kim Ades: Is she a full time single mother or does she share custody?

[00:01:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Full-time single mother.

[00:01:26] Kim Ades: Full-time single mother. And does she have people in her environment that... like, does she have family? Does she have friends? Does she have people around her?

[00:01:35] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely. She does have family. She has friends, just doesn't have that much time for them. [Chuckles]

[00:01:42] Kim Ades: Okay. So I think there are a few layers to this, right? So the first layer is that very often when someone becomes a single mother, they experience some level of guilt. And what do I mean by that is that they have a sense that their kids are struggling or suffering and they have to be the everything to their children and make up for their loss or make up for their pain.

And so what they do is they sacrifice themselves in order for their kids to be stable and happy. And it's a good idea to create stability for your kids, especially after divorce. So all in favor of stability for children.

However, I'm not in favor of self-sacrifice, because what ends up happening is that over time, a parent who doesn't take care of themselves, who doesn't make time for themselves, who doesn't socialize, who doesn't create a life, also feels exhausted and has a sense of resentment over time, and it's not a good formula for them or their children. And so what we always want to do is start with beliefs. That's always a very important starting place.

[00:02:53] Ferne Kotlyar: I've heard that somewhere.

[00:02:55] Kim Ades: Yeah, you heard that somewhere. And so the question is, as a mother, what does she feel are her responsibilities? And you will probably find that one of the responsibilities that she is not taking on is responsibility for her own happiness. And I will say, especially from personal experience, when a mother is happy, the kids are happy.

When a mother brings joy to the environment, when a mother is having fun, when a mother is taking care of herself, she's substantially more able to take care of her children and has much more bandwidth to deal with whatever it is kids bring to the table. And that's a lot of stuff. And so it's really important for parents, single moms, single dads to carve out time for themselves.

And so that could look a number of different ways. A lot of times parents have the belief that their time with their kids can not be split, or it can not be blended with other people or other experiences, other social environments.

And so one question is, is it possible to have social time with other parents who have kids? Other family members, other single moms, single dads? Whatever it is, so that there's an environment of playfulness, an environment of socialization, bringing people into the house, inviting guests over, having some kind of an exciting event happening so that parents can socialize, but kids can play, so it's good for everybody.

But the second piece of it is every mother, every person needs time on their own. And so it's really important to look at your calendar on a weekly basis and say, how can I make that happen for myself? Do I have grandparents who are willing to take the kids for a few hours every week? Do I have a friend where I can trade off an evening once a week, where they would take care of my kids and I would take care of their kids? You know, let's say every second Saturday.

Can I make arrangements, so that my kids are well taken care of while I get a little bit of time for myself? Whatever that time is. And it needs to be time that is not only social, but time that a person can exercise or just maybe go for a walk or just spend time with themselves, journaling! Whatever it is, a little bit of space and free time. But a lot of times parents experience resistance when you encourage them to spend time on their own.

[00:05:35] Ferne Kotlyar: As in they provide resistance? They are resistant?

[00:05:38] Kim Ades: They're resistant to the idea that they should take time for themselves.

[00:05:42] Ferne Kotlyar: How come?

[00:05:43] Kim Ades: They say, "I can't, my kid is impossible to handle. Nobody else could do this but me" or "what if something goes wrong?" And so resistance is an interesting trend that we see in parents, whether they're single or not.

[00:06:00] Ferne Kotlyar: And where do you think that comes from?

[00:06:03] Kim Ades: It comes from the idea that they have a very specific concept of the way things should be. And we spoke about this last week, but when we have a very specific idea of how things should be, then when a new idea comes in, we put our hand, like we block it, right? We just stop. We just say, no, no, no, no, no, no, we can't do it that way we resist. And so we often want to look at resistance and look at the underlying beliefs that exist when we see resistance.

So what are you resisting? What are you afraid of? What are you thinking could happen, that will be horrible, terrible and awful? Let's look at that, let's bring it to the surface.

[00:06:47] Ferne Kotlyar: What do you think most parents are afraid of?

[00:06:51] Kim Ades: They're afraid of losing control of their children. I think that's a huge thing.

[00:06:56] Ferne Kotlyar: But do you think they ever had control?

[00:06:58] Kim Ades: I don't, I think it's an illusion. Parents think they have control over their kids. They don't. And parents are terrified to lose further control. And so they're terrified to lose further control that they think they have, but they don't really have.

[00:07:16] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles].

[00:07:17] Kim Ades: And so it's very interesting, because when you see parents who are split up, a lot of fears come into the picture, they have financial fears, they have... You know, their children are moving away from them, they're not spending as much time with them when they're split custody or whatever it is. And you get very scared.

All of your fears come to the surface. And a lot of those fears are insecurities. A lot of those fears come from not knowing what's next or not knowing if you have the ability or capacity to handle a new status or a new way of life or a new financial reality, whatever it is. We get scared. And when our actions are driven from fear, they're never good, the outcome cannot be good.

And so when we look at our children and we look at spending every single minute we have with them, ask yourself, is that actually really good for me? Is it good for them? If it's not good for me, it's definitely not good for them. But imagine if it was good for me, is it actually good for them to spend every waking moment with their mom?

[00:08:33] Ferne Kotlyar: Maybe not.

[00:08:34] Kim Ades: Maybe not.

[00:08:36] Ferne Kotlyar: So what would be the first step in eliminating that fear?

[00:08:42] Kim Ades: You know, one of the things we wanted to help people understand is a healthy mom means healthier kids. And so if a person isn't healthy, if they're lonely, if they're a little bit depressed, if they're overwhelmed, exhausted, if they are stressed... how many single parents are stressed?

[00:09:01] Ferne Kotlyar: Probably a lot.

[00:09:02] Kim Ades: All of that isn't healthy for the kids. And we know that what parents want for their kids is the best, right? But if any of that is at play, then the best isn't present.

[00:09:14] Ferne Kotlyar: Interesting.

[00:09:15] Kim Ades: And so what we want to do is we want to help align a parent's actions with their intentions for their children. You want what's best for your kids? Okay, let's really define that. Is a stressed mom, a stressed, exhausted, lonely mom, the best thing for your kids?

[00:09:36] Ferne Kotlyar: So take care of yourself in order to take care of your kids.

[00:09:38] Kim Ades: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. You know, even there are a lot of parents who feel guilt going back to work after they give birth. Right? And I understand that. But the question is, are you going to be a happy person staying at home? Some people are perfectly happy and if they are, wonderful. But if you're not going to be happy staying at home, if you're going to be feeling like you're not living your life and contributing to society and engaging, then staying at home isn't an ideal situation for anyone.

[00:10:11] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely. It's a tough one, for sure.

[00:10:14] Kim Ades: It's a tough one. But at the end of the day, again, really, really healthy kids come from really, really healthy parents.

[00:10:22] Ferne Kotlyar: Thanks, mom. [Chuckles]

[00:10:23] Kim Ades: So it's very important as a parent that you take care of your mind, your body, your spirit, your soul, all of it. And when you do that, your ability to contribute to your kids is at a much, much higher level.

[00:10:40] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. I noticed that with kind of all of my relationships, family, friends, partner... If I'm unhappy because I haven't been taking care of myself, I find that my relationships also start to degrade, because I'm not in a good place and can't have kind of that healthy relationship as well.

[00:11:04] Kim Ades: Give me an example. What are you referring to specifically?

[00:11:08] Ferne Kotlyar: So for me, if I'm not working out, I get cranky and moody and snappy. [Chuckles]

[00:11:16] Kim Ades: And if you're hungry!

[00:11:17] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, yeah. But that's an easier fix. [Chuckles]

[00:11:22] Kim Ades: [Chuckles]

[00:11:23] Ferne Kotlyar: And sometimes I get mean! Not my best quality... But you know, I get-- kind of... I don't think properly, and then I do think that I probably wouldn't have done had I eaten or exercised. And so I think, you know, when you're mean [lightly chuckles] it's never good for a relationship, and then that quick fix makes all the difference. You start to kind of see everything in a different light. You appreciate them more. It's easier for you to spend time with them and them to spend time with you.

[00:11:56] Kim Ades: So it's funny, right? Like, a lot of people think that, you know, as a parent, I have to feed my kids first, and that makes total sense, right? Yeah, we have to feed our kids. But we think that exercise and self care are luxuries instead of necessities. The truth is they are necessities. They really are.

[00:12:19] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:12:19] Kim Ades: And I'm not talking about, oh, you need to go to the spa and get pampered on a regular basis. I'm just saying every single day, you need to carve out some time to take care of your health, your mental state, your emotional state. You need to do that every single day.

[00:12:38] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. It's really important.

[00:12:39] Kim Ades: It's also your life. You're responsible for your life! You need to make sure you're in a good place every single day.

[00:12:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely.

[00:12:48] Kim Ades: But that's actually your most important job. And if you think about everybody wants to live this amazing life, and they think that this amazing life is a function of the money they make or the job they have or the status they have, or even their relationship, and all of that is secondary. It's not as important as their emotional state. And that's the one thing that we have control over.

We don't always have control over how our boss will behave in the work environment OR our relationship status. We don't always have control over all of that, but we do have control over the way we think and the way we feel, and most of us don't take control over it. And really the quality of our life is dramatically increased when our state is better for more of the time, we don't think about it that way.

[00:13:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely. And it definitely doesn't only apply to single mothers. It applies to everyone.

[00:13:41] Kim Ades: A hundred percent. And for me, from a coaching standpoint, what do I want to do with my clients? Is I want to teach them that the quality of their lives is a hundred percent dependent on how they think and how they feel.

And that is something they have control over. They don't realize they have control over it. They don't know how to take control over it, but they have control over it. And so the minute you realize "I have control over these things and I can significantly increase the quality of my life", it's mind blowing. It's amazing to learn! And that goes for single mothers too, for everyone.

[00:14:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely.

[00:14:22] Kim Ades: Yeah.

[00:14:22] Ferne Kotlyar: I think that's great advice. And thank you.

[00:14:25] Kim Ades: Thank you for asking the question. I'm interested in the way that our conversations are flowing these days. It's a lot of fun, I'm enjoying it a lot. For those of you who are listening, I hope you're taking care of yourselves! I hope you know that your single greatest strength or your single greatest area of control is to take care of the way you think and the way you feel.

But I'd love to hear from you. Send us some comments, send us some feedback. And if you have a subject you'd like us to discuss on the podcast, reach out to us. My email address is Ferne, how do people reach out to you?

[00:15:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Please email me! So my email is

[00:15:15] Kim Ades: Thank you guys for tuning in! Please like, please share, please reach out. And we will see you next week. Have a great week!

[00:15:22] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!

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