Effective in the Workplace

You are a single parent and more than likely you hold down a job or two in order to provide for your children.  Sometimes you have a really great employer who recognizes your situation and works with your scheduling needs.  Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves in work situations that are inflexible to the needs in a single parent home.  In fact, if you reveal yourself as a single parent in the interview process chances are that you could be passed up for the position simply because you have a situation that needs flexibility.  It's harder to travel, work long hours and show up to the last minute client dinners.  I've even heard people say that hiring single parents is less than ideal.

I, for one can understand that side of employers who feel that way and are firstly concerned with efficiency, availability and dedication.  Being a single parent does not mean that you are unreliable or flaky.  In fact, most single parents that I know are very strong individuals who are out to prove something to themselves and society that we can handle the same situations as others.  Our past and present situations do not define us but they make us stronger.

I did a little research on this topic online and found some really great resources of how single parents can remain good solid employees in the eyes of an employer.  Sure we need flexibility but doesn't everyone at some point? The key is how we ask for that flexibility and that we do not abuse it.

1) Even though it may be detrimental during an interview, it is important to be upfront about your situation and the needs you may have with a potential employer.  If we remain faithful to be truthful the right doors will open up for us and enable provision for your family.

2) Remain honest with your boss and about the situations and trials that come up.  Trust is a huge factor in your employer knowing when you really need their help.  A lying tongue will get no sympathy or flexibility.

3) Give your best all the time.  Your employer will be able to tell when things come up yet you are giving it everything you have.  Likewise they will be able to tell if you are allowing your situations to overtake your workplace commitment.

4) Have an outlet for stress.  Being a single parent can be stressful and overwhelming.  Avoid relieving your personal stress at work through complaining and venting sessions.  Other employees have stress too and hearing about how hard your life is, day in and day out might be just too much for them to want to be around. 

5) Try your best to ensure you have a track record that has more giving rather than taking.  Constantly asking for time off or flex time will show an employer that you are unreliable and that they may need to look elsewhere. If possible schedule things outside work hours, but if not make sure you save the most important reasons for asking for time off.  Having a bad day is not a reason to go home early.

It is difficult to maintain a steady household as well as work full time outside the home but it is possible and doable.  Just be honest with what you can handle and what you need. 

Daddy's Day

I ran across this story on Facebook and although I cannot trace if it is real or created, it does serve as a great reminder of the varied reasons people become single parents.

Her hair was up in a ponytail, her favorite dress tied with a bow. Today was Daddy's Day at school, and she couldn't wait to go. But her mommy tried to tell her, that she probably should stay home. Why the kids might not understand, if she went to school alone. But she was not afraid; she knew just what to say. What to tell her classmates of why he wasn't there today. But still her mother worried, for her to face this day alone. And that was why once again, she tried to keep her daughter home. But the little girl went to school eager to tell them all, about a dad she never sees, a dad who never calls. There were daddies along the wall in back, for everyone to meet. Children squirming impatiently, anxious in their seats. One by one the teacher called a student from the class, to introduce their daddy, as seconds slowly passed. At last the teacher called her name, every child turned to stare, each of them was searching, a man who wasn't there. 'Where's her daddy at?' she heard a boy call out. 'She probably doesn't have one,' another student dared to shout. And from somewhere near the back, she heard a daddy say, 'Looks like another deadbeat dad, too busy to waste his day.' The words did not offend her, as she smiled up at her Mom, and looked back at her teacher, who told her to go on. And with hands behind her back, slowly she began to speak. And out from the mouth of a child, came words incredibly unique. 'My Daddy couldn't be here, because he lives so far away. But I know he wishes he could be, since this is such a special day. And though you cannot meet him, I wanted you to know, all about my daddy, and how much he loves me so. He loved to tell me stories, he taught me to ride my bike, and he surprised me with pink roses, and taught me to fly a kite. We used to share fudge sundaes, and ice cream in a cone, and though you cannot see him, I'm not standing here alone. 'Cause my daddy's always with me, even though we are apart, I know because he told me, he'll forever be in my heart. ‘With that, her little hand reached up, and lay across her chest, feeling her own heartbeat, beneath her favorite dress. And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads, her mother stood in tears, proudly watching her daughter, who was wise beyond her years. She stood up for the love of a man not in her life, doing what was best for her, doing what was right. And when she dropped her hand back down, staring straight into the crowd, she finished with a voice so soft, but its message clear and loud. 'I love my daddy very much, he's my shining star, and if he could, he'd be here, but heaven's just too far. You see he is a soldier and died just this past year, when a roadside bomb hit his convoy and taught the world to fear. But sometimes when I close my eyes, it's like he never went away.' And then she closed her eyes, and saw him there that day. And to her mother’s amazement, she witnessed with surprise. A room full of daddies and children, all starting to close their eyes. Who knows what they saw before them, who knows what they felt inside. Perhaps for merely a second, they saw him at her side. 'I know you're with me Daddy,' to the silence she called out. And what happened next made believers, of those once filled with doubt. Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed. But there on the desk beside her, was a fragrant long-stemmed rose. And a child was blessed, if only for a moment, by the love of her shining star. And given the gift of believing, that heaven is never too far.

Got Time?

I am tired.  I feel like I am always tired.  Can anyone relate?  If you were to create a list of your weekly activities do you feel it would become a published novel of the itinerary of a super human? Well it may not, but it sure does feel like a very heavy load to bear at times, especially on your own.  

Let’s take a minute to do something you probably haven’t done yet today.

Breathe in deeply.

Now breathe out. 

Feel better?  For a split second you probably did but let’s be honest, now your mind is racing to all of the tasks that have yet to be accomplished today.  Let us not forget the guilt that might also be weighing on your mind with regards to all that should get done however those things will likely be on hold until that magic moment when you have something people like to call “time”. 

Have you ever had anyone tell you, “What you need is time alone” or “Take time to discover who you are now that you are single”?  Well those are definitely things that are great for anyone in our situation to do, however both of those phrases contain the word “time”; a commodity that more than likely you do not possess and I know that I do not have much of.

When you do have time how do you use it?  Are you concentrated on tasks throughout the day and using all of your extra time to accomplish more and more? If you are like me, you get overwhelmed at the thought of everything you have to do that you find yourself running in circles trying to keep up.  I call this the “I gotta attitude”.  I gotta be the PTA Mom, House Cleaner, Cook, Co-worker, Financial Guru, Sunday School Teacher, Taxi Driver...you name it!  You want to be involved and you want to shine so that you can feel that you are doing the best parental job possible for your children. I have some news for those of you who feel as I do sometimes or even all the time, the cycle will never stop as long as you feed it.

It is great to use extra time for involvement in things that are beneficial for your children but just as you would recommend for your children to not burn themselves out, you need to listen to your own advice!  It is difficult; trust me I know! How you use your extra time is very important but what if you really don’t see a way to have any time?

I have asked a few single parents that I know and below are the compiled suggestions.

1)   Enjoy the downtime in carpool.
2)   Wake up 15 minutes before your kids typically do.
3)   Take a different route to the office while your favorite music is playing.
4)   Actually take your lunch break at work and leave the office.
5)   Decide what needs to go on your “to do” list and remove what doesn't need to be there.
6)   Practice saying “no” to things that are not of utmost importance.
7)   If able to, get a babysitter one night per month.