CoAbode provides support and services that connect women raising children alone. CoAbode was founded on the principle that two single moms raising children together can achieve more than one struggling alone.
“I find that I become one of two moms when my children are upset. I’m either Mary Poppins — kind, loving, patient — or I’m completely intolerant and prone to yelling and screaming.”
If you’re yelling at your kids, you’re not alone. Yelling seems to have become something of a parenting epidemic. Some are even calling it “the new spanking”. Why are so many dedicated, intelligent, aware parents losing control?
My sense is that parents often end up yelling because they’ve actually made the very positive decision to give their children boundaries with respect rather than punishments and manipulation. These parents are working really hard to remain gentle and kind, and yet their children’s testing behaviors continue. They become increasingly frustrated, even fearful, feeling they’ve lost all control without any way to rein their children in.
And it’s no wonder! If I attempted to absorb all the vague, contradictory advice I’ve seen and heard regarding discipline, I’d be blowing a gasket on a regular basis myself. So many of these theoretical ideas are seductively warm and fuzzy, but they come with a whole lot of scary don’ts (“don’t punish, reward, control, give time-outs or consequences, use the word ‘no’, expect obedience, be authoritative, etc”), and very little in the way of practical tools.
If you’ve been yelling, here are some thoughts to consider:
1. You aren’t taking care of yourself
A long soak in a warm tub, getting away with friends or your spouse are always good ideas, but what I’d suggest is far more basic and crucial: know your limits and personal needs, and establish boundaries with your child from the beginning. Yes, even with your infant.
For example, in the context of a respectful relationship (which means perceiving your infant as awhole person and communicating with her as such), it is okay for your baby to cry for a few minutes while you make your regular morning trip to the bathroom to brush your teeth. You leave your baby in a safe, enclosed place, tell her you will go and always acknowledge her feelings when you return.
Since you are respecting your baby’s need for predictability, you’ve made this activity a habitual part of your day together, and your baby learns to anticipate that you will go and return. She still may complain, which is her right, but you confidently let her know you hear her and accept her expression of displeasure. “You didn’t want me to go. That upset you. I’m back.”
If you are a sensitive person who can’t sleep deeply with your baby near you, but you’re co-sleeping because you think you should, you are not taking care of yourself.
If you want to wean your child or limit your toddler’s nursing, but you feel guilty about that, you are not taking care of yourself.
If you need to go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, but you’re afraid to leave your fussy baby or screeching toddler, you are not taking care of yourself.
In fact, if you feel guilty about any self-care moment, you are probablynot taking care of yourself.
We all give up much of our lives for our children, but it is unhealthy for us (and even less healthy for our kids) to become an egoless parent, neglecting our needs and virtually erasing ourselves from the relationship. We need personal boundaries, and our children need us to model them. This is what it means to have an honest, authentic, respectful relationship that will make limit-setting in the toddler through teenage years clear and simple (notice I didn’t say “easy” — because it’s hardly ever easy).
Parenting fact: Our babies and toddlers will never give us permission to take care of our needs. “Go ahead and take a little break, mom, you deserve it!” will never be said or implied through our young children’s behavior, even on Mother’s Day. Quite the opposite, in fact. These boundaries must come from us, and our children will do their job by objecting, rebelling, making demands and more demands, and continuing to feel around for our limits until they are firmly and consistently in place.
2. You have spent your baby’s first year distracting, appeasing or otherwise manipulating her rather than speaking honestly about limits.
It disappoints me to hear some of the non-punitive discipline advocates I admire making statements like this one: “The bad news is that babies often want everything they see. The good news is that they’re generally distractible during the first year.”
Your baby is awhole person ready to engage actively and honestly in a relationship with you at birth. When you distract, you are practicing avoidance – denying an honest connection in order to side-step your child’s healthy feelings of resistance. The pattern this creates for both of you will make it so much harder for you to feel comfortable setting respectful limits later on. This formative first year is a crucial time to set limits honestly, because this is when we will establish what will always be the core of our parent/child relationship. (For more about setting limits honestly with babies, please read 5 Reasons We Should Stop Distracting Toddlers (And What To Do Instead)
3. You feel responsible for your children’s emotions
Here are the main reasons parents neglect to establish personal boundaries with their children or use manipulative tools like distraction (all of which often lead to yelling):
They don’t believe a baby is really a whole person who can understand words and interact honestly.
They perceive all crying as something to avoid or fix, “one-note communication”, rather than a nuanced dialogue.
They ride the whirlwind of their child’s disappointment, sadness, anger, etc., rather than being an anchor with the understanding that it is essential to emotional health for children to express themselves.
This unhealthy perception of children and their feelings thwarts the development of emotional resiliency, creates the need for even more limit-setting in the toddler years, and will exhaust you every time you have to say ‘no’ or insist upon something (which will be often). The toddler years, especially, are a limit-pushing, resistant period. Your child needs to behave this way in order to individuate in a healthy manner. If you feel pained about or responsible for your child’s daily roller-coaster of emotions, you’re going to be reluctant to set honest limits, get tired, and probably end up yelling…or crying, which isn’t healthy for your children either.
Repeat after me: Once I’ve fulfilled my child’s basic needs, my only responsibility regarding feelings is to accept and acknowledge them.
4. Your expectations are unreasonable
You also might be yelling because you are expecting the impossible. Children are explorers. They need safe places where they can freely move, experiment, investigate. Asking a toddler not to run, jump or climb is akin to saying, “Don’t breathe.” Create and find safe places for your children to play. Don’t expose them to materials or equipment they can’t use as they wish and thereby set yourself up for frustration and anger when they don’t comply.
It’s up to us to avoid situations that will try our patience rather than get caught up struggling to keep the peace and make it work.
5. You are confused about setting limits gently with respect
It takes two to struggle, so don’t engage. You are not your child’s peer; you are her capable leader. So, instead of taking your child’s healthy, age-appropriate button-pushing behavior personally and going to that “uh-oh” place that leads you to yelling:
a) Make eye contact with your child and confidently state a limit: “It’s time to brush your teeth.”
b) Give a simple choice or opportunity for an autonomous decision: “If you can come now, we’ll have time for a second book.”
c) Acknowledge your child’s feelings of disagreement (and welcome those feelings to continue as long as they need to, while you continue to acknowledge them). “Oh, I know you are having so much fun with the dog and it’s hard to stop, but it’s time. What a bummer! You are really upset and disappointed that it’s bedtime. I know the feeling.”
As completely counterintuitive as this is for most of us, it works. The more you are willing to agree with your child’s feelings while calmly holding on to the boundary, the easier it will be for her to release her resistance and move on. How can your child continue to fight when you won’t stop agreeing with her? This parenting “white-flag” of empathy will miraculously dissolve the tension for both of you.
d) If your child still does not comply for whatever reason, follow through by taking her hand (literally or figuratively). “You’re having a hard time coming upstairs to brush your teeth, so I’m going to help you.” You calmly take her hand, and then perhaps you add, “Thank you for letting me know you needed help.”
This by the way, is exactly what she was doing. And once you’ve recognized that all of your child’s resistant, impulsive, objectionable behavior is really just an awkward request for your help, you’ll probably find it easier to stop yelling about it.
The traditional family of 1950’s America is far from the norm in more modern society. While it’s true that just as many parents that divorce stay together, living environments have changed dramatically.
There are families where biological parents live together but never marry. There are same sex couples that marry and adopt a child. And, there are even single mothers that choose to share a home with other single mothers and raise their children together.
Discussing co-parenting strategies is great. But, putting a plan down on paper makes it real. Here are some reasons on why you should follow through and make an actual parenting plan.
They Define Expectations
Raising children is difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’re a traditional married husband and wife with one or two children all under the same roof, or a mixed-race divorced couple living in different homes. Every day with a child under your supervision is a new experience.
By creating and sharing a parenting plan with your co-parent, you clearly define expectations for both parents. It’s a way to limit future disagreements and it helps identify potential disagreements before they happen.
They Create Stability
One of the major reasons to choose co-parenting over single parenting is that is helps create stability for all of the children involved. Co-parents can assist one another, while many single parents don’t have that type of support.
Parenting plans help with establishing a routine. Your child will know what to expect each day, and that type of schedule creates a feeling of safety and security.
Stability and security are exactly what you child needs to grow into a confident adult.
They Make Parents Think About What’s Best for the Child
So many parents in co-parenting situations don’t always start off the relationship with their children in mind. If the arrangement to co-parent came at the digression of the court rather than that of the parents, some parents want to make the situation as difficult as possible for their former spouse or lover.
That approach is definitely not in the best interest of the child. By putting a thorough parenting plan in print, it’s much easier to see what is good for your child and what is being done to try and spite their other parent, especially when the latter isn’t something that’s being done overtly.
Developing a solid parenting plan that takes the availabilities and strengths of both parents as well as the needs of your child into consideration is an absolute must. It helps bring to light many potential future disagreements before they have a chance to surface and keeps both parents on the same page from the get-go.
If you plan to co-parent, regardless of the situation, make sure you and the other parent take the time to develop a well thought out plan. Your child deserves it.
‘Tis the season for carrying my screaming six-year-old through an airport after she gets upset with TSA for telling her she does not have to take off her shoes (suggesting she isn’t a big girl). If you plan on traveling with tiny people during the holidays, in either a plane or a car, I empathize with you. Here are some ideas from around the internet for making that experience as pleasant for everyone as possible.
I rely on Netflix on my phone and headphones for the kiddo, but if you want to have them do something more productive the public library has ebooks that you can check out for a kindle or kindle app on most smartphones. Freekidsbooks.org, magickeys.com/books.
If your kids are too young to read, there are also podcasts like Tumble Science, The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, Sesame Street Podcast, or the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Libraries often have books on cd that you can put on your iPod as well.
Putting games like tic-tac-toe or mad libs inside plastic paper protectors and bringing along an erasable marker should keep kids busy for a while. We also bring a printout of a keyboard to have our kiddo practice her piano on the road. Dollar store goodies, given out once an hour, can also keep kids engaged in something new so that they do not get bored.
Have kids keep a travel journal where they write down what they do each day. They can add postcards, recipes, photos, or other mementos from the trip and work on their book on the trip home.
Get them a small camera. Vivitar and Discovery kids both make digital cameras for around $20. They are lighter and better than my kid constantly asking for my phone to take pictures “by herself.”
Trunki makes carry-on bags that little kids can ride on like big wheels. Older kids can pull their own carry-on luggage. My kid has a cats in outer space bag with glitter that lights up. She won’t let me touch it. Airlines will also allow you to check car seats and strollers for free, which if you have a car seat cover, you could use for a little extra packing space.
Consider putting an adult in the back seat with the kids. This helps kids feel included and can diffuse any fussing fits.
Being a single parent can be difficult even when things are going well. As anyone who has taken on both parenting roles will tell you, there are times when it seems like going on after a particularly hard day is impossible; having no one to tag in when you’re sick, tired, or stressed takes a toll after a while.
For these reasons, it’s important for single parents to know how to take care of themselves, make time to do things that relax them and make them happy, and stay healthy. Here are some of the best tips for moms and dads who need to take a time-out.
Learning how to take care of yourself isn’t just about eating right and getting exercise, although those are two very important things to know. It’s also about remembering to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. You can’t expect to be the best parent you can be if you’re tired, stressed, or unhappy, so take a little time every day that’s just for you. Turn off your phone, stay away from emails, and get to it: play a video game, take a hot bath with a glass of wine, or relax with a good book. The most important part is to keep guilt out of the equation; don’t feel bad for focusing on your own well-being for a little while. It’s absolutely necessary.
Find healthy ways to cope
It’s easy sometimes to defeat stress with a cigarette or a few beers, but when you become dependent on drugs or alcohol to get you through the day or to help you sleep, it might be time to take a look at your situation and evaluate whether you are making healthy choices. If you have been relying too heavily on unhealthy coping methods, you might consider trying something new. Work exercise into your day, which can help you with energy levels as well as getting more restful sleep. Try yoga or meditation, which can help to dramatically reduce stress and emotional issues. Get creative and take up a new hobby, such as drawing or sewing. Stress from being the sole caregiver can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts, so take care of yourself.
Remember that it’s okay to say “No”
Friends and family may not understand sometimes just how busy you are, so don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations once in awhile. It’s okay to put your own needs first at times, especially if you’re tired or overworked.
Find a support system
Having friends around you who also have children is one of the best ways to combat stress, as talking with someone who understands what you’re going through is always helpful. If you don’t know anyone who is a single parent, consider looking online for support groups or even groups of single parents who meet up socially for playdates.
Being a single parent is never easy, but keeping your stress levels down makes for a happy, healthy you.
Working from home has become the latest trend and we are talking globally here. Every day, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home at least once or twice a week. And even more companies are looking to outsource, looking for employees who can work from home and, sometimes, from a different country. We can see these “work from home” job offers increasing every single day on the different job boards and people are really starting to get into this new groove because, let’s face it, staying at home has to be better than going to the office every day. However, this is not true for everyone. Working from home has its pros and cons, but, in the end, it depends on each person.
Let’s begin listing some of the pros: no commuting, that alone should convince you to stay home, no traffic, no public transportation, no people on top of you during rush hour, just bliss while you walk from your room to the office space; flexibility of hours and in managing that time, most of these jobs do not necessarily have a rigid schedule you need to follow, so you are able to manage your own time, especially if you are a freelancer; less stress, since most people working from home are their own bosses, or their bosses are nowhere near them, stress can be reduced to a minimum; less distractions hence more productivity, no useless meetings, no coworkers telling you about their 13 cats or children, no running around the whole office looking for a photocopier that actually works, no wasting time with small talk, just you and your family; more family time, since you are already at home, there is a really good chance you can spend more time with your family, or your dogs, while working from home, you just need to be organized and know how to manage your time in a productive way.
Even though you are now probably ready to pack up your desk and go home, you need to know that working from home also has its disadvantages: isolation, even though some people prefer being alone, others would rather have some company during the day, but if you have a family, this is not really a problem; distractions, we might have more distractions in an office, but that does not mean there are not any at home, browsing social media becomes your biggest enemy while working from home; separating work from home, this is probably one of the worst disadvantages of working from home, you need to be able to organize your day in a way you get to spend enough time working and enough time with your family or friends, try to have a separate space for working, do not stay in your bedroom, find a good nook in the house to do so; working endlessly, since you have no one controlling your hours but yourself, you might feel the need to work at all times, that is why you need to be very organized with your time and prioritizing your responsibilities.
Now you are ready to consider your options and decide whether you are a good candidate to work from home or not. Welcome to the future!
Using emerging technologies to build a resilience economy
In the US, pregnant women and young parents are turning to new finance models to fund the costs of taking maternity leave. Could the sharing economy step up to the challenge? I came across CoAbode, a site which functions like an online noticeboard and community for single mothers across the US.
I read recently that there are currently about 1300 GoFundMe crowdfunding campaigns listed by women in the US seeking financial assistance to support their maternity leave. The article points out that many of the crowdfunding pages list circumstances that are exacerbated by medical bills or mortgage repayments, but that many still find it difficult to raise sufficient funds to fulfill their targets.
For separated parents already struggling to pay the day-to-day expenses of raising children, parental leave is an inconceivable luxury. According to 2014 data from the US Census Bureau, there are almost ten million women running single parent households in the US. The median income for single mothers is $26,000: for some, a significant proportion goes towards childcare provision and mortgage repayments.
CoAbode: the real sharing economy
A tool that for fifteen years has been quietly tackling this issue stateside is CoAbode, a mother buddy-up site started by Irish-born entrepreneur Carmel Sullivan following her own experiences as a single parent. On CoAbode, single mums can register a profile online and match with others nearby, leading to house shares, as well as food and childcare in some cases.
For some women, using CoAbode can make the difference between keeping their child and turning to adoption services. Sullivan mentions a pregnant Latino girl, aged about 17 years old and a few weeks away from giving birth, who wrote to Sullivan saying that she had no way of supporting a baby, and her only choice was to have the child adopted.
“I took it upon myself personally to find someone for her,” says Sullivan. “I found a single mom with her own home who was willing to share with her, exchanging childcare in return for living costs. To me that was just the most amazing testimony because she got to keep her child.”
While CoAbode is sent emails every week from women in unusually desperate circumstances, Sullivan says there are typically two real reasons that single mums post a profile:
“One of them is financial, because when you share your rents and pool your resources, you can share a bigger and better house together. The other big issue is loneliness.”
“A lot of women come on the site who have big houses, but they are just lonely. As a society, it seems we’ve lost the idea of extended families and single parenting is a lonely task, we’re not built that way. We want connection with other people.”
In the wake of the economic crisis, demand for CoAbode has surged – at peak points, Sullivan says that 120,000 members are live on the site and traffic ranges in the millions. Sullivan activated a Canadian outpost of CoAbode after discovering that women living in towns on the border were falsely claiming US zipcodes in order to use the site. Local CoAbode communities (“Circle of Friends”) and support networks have also formed; Sullivan tells me about a CoAbode ‘village’ in Brooklyn, New York, in which three brownstones (townhouses) in close proximity to each other were all occupied by sharing single mothers.
“On my own time & on my own dime”
Amidst all the discussions around platform ownership and profit, as many ‘sharing economy’ startups monetise their sites by taking a cut of all transactions, CoAbode remains resistant to commercialisation. The CoAbode site was founded on – and continues to use – simple technology to achieve its aims. That said, Sullivan thinks that the introduction of algorithms to calculate profile matches would improve the site’s effectiveness and help those who are too shy to make the first connection. For this to happen, Sullivan needs financial support: “For the last few years, I have basically been running this on my own time and on my own dime.”
Sullivan has experimented in the past with asking users for a donation, but, as she says, even $5 a week can make a big difference to a single parent family’s budget.
Instead, Sullivan has converted CoAbode from a non-profit-turned-startup and that they are in the early stages of looking for investors. CoAbode is also considering more formal partnerships and corporate sponsorship to help their homeless single mother clients resolve housing issues.
With a sustainable model in place, Sullivan believes CoAbode could expand overseas. She is enthusiastic about exploring collaborations with different demographics – potentially working with single dads and senior citizens.
– See more at: http://www.meansofexchange.com/2016/03/31/coabode-room-for-a-little-one/#sthash.VOC8pHSr.dpuf
Kids are the best gift that any woman can have. The only issue being
whether we are ready to accept this gift.
They call the earth “Mother Earth.” Why?
Because she gives of herself in every possible way. She gives when you
ask for it and she gives when you don’t ask for it.
She bears our burden gives us space to build upon.
She provides us with grains, fruits, flowers . you name it she offers
it and does so beautifully.
She provides us with beautiful landscapes, valleys, mountains, hills
and so much more to explore, to travel upon when we need to.
She provides us with jewels, gems, precious stones to adorn us.
She provides us with beautiful trees that sustain us, that provide
oxygen for us to breathe.
As our Earth is a Mother, so are we chosen to be Mothers. Why?
Because we are able to share in the beautiful process of creation.
Because we can nourish a life, sustain it.
Because we give of ourselves, our energy, our time, our love, our support.
But, we can only do all this when we are ready from inside, when we
are ready to accept our gift, wholeheartedly.
Having a child changes our life, there is no denying this. But it is
in our hands to keep this change positive. Yes, there are sleepless
nights, increased expenses and less time for yourself. All of a
sudden you are a mature adult looking after a child.
Tell yourself I will manage if I want to. I will take the changes as
they come. So maybe at times I will be tired; I am only human. But I
am ready to give it my best effort; it’s all for my very own child.
Just like Mother Earth, we too have the capacity to to be there when
we are needed. We have the strength to bear life and to sustain it.
So be proud of yourself.
A close-up examination and exploration, How We Live Now challenges our old concepts of what it means to be a family and have a home, opening the door to the many diverse and thriving experiments of living in twenty-first century America.
Across America and around the world, in cities and suburbs and small towns, people from all walks of life are redefining our “lifespaces”—the way we live and who we live with. The traditional nuclear family in their single-family home on a suburban lot has lost its place of prominence in contemporary life. Today, Americans have more choices than ever before in creating new ways to live and meet their personal needs and desires.
Social scientist, researcher, and writer Bella DePaulo has traveled across America to interview people experimenting with the paradigm of how we live. In How We Live Now, she explores everything from multi-generational homes to cohousing communities where one’s “family” is made up of friends and neighbors to couples “living apart together” to single-living, and ultimately uncovers a pioneering landscape for living that throws the old blueprint out the window.
Through personal interviews and stories, media accounts, and in-depth research, How We Live Now explores thriving lifespaces, and offers the reader choices that are freer, more diverse, and more attuned to our modern needs for the twenty-first century and beyond.