If you are going to raise happy, healthy children, you must first be happy and healthy yourself. As the adage goes, “You cannot give that which you do not have.” When you first separate from your spouse, you may not feel like being happy. It is extremely stressful to juggle everything. You now have to be comforter, discipliner, cook, chauffer, maid, and many other things to your children all by yourself. Not to mention the emotional ups and downs you are going through from your recent change in relationship status. One way or another though, you have to be strong for your children’s sake.
On my worst days, I found that faking it was the best that I could do. Mildred Barthel said, “Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” If you cannot be genuinely happy, “fake it till you make it.” Putting up a front for your children is essential so do what you can to be happy in front of them then when they are in bed, go ahead and let it out.
Some of the things you can do to make yourself happy are, 1) find a job that you like, 2) make time for hanging out with friends, and 3) go to a counselor.
1) “Many things will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart… pursue those.” Anonymous
I am extremely fortunate to work in an industry that I love, doing what I love, for a company that I love. I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am in this area but I did not come by my job by accident either. Straight out of high school, I knew that I wanted to be in the engineering business but I did not have the money to go to college and my parents were not in a position to help me. So, I check into all my options. One of my options was the military. After speaking to an Air Force recruiter I learned that they could guarantee me a specific job. I used that knowledge to my benefit and told them I would join if they guaranteed me a position in the Civil Engineering unit. I had to wait 7 months for a position to open up but once it did, I headed off to basic training. While in the military, they trained me in design, surveying, and construction management. I had the great fortune to get on the job training which is the best type of training because your employer pays you while you are learning. After getting out of the military, I used my GI Bill to complete my Bachelor’s degree.
I am not saying that you have to follow my path of joining the military to get the job you want. What I would recommend is that you research companies that employ people in the types of job you want. Find a few that provide tuition reimbursement and/or on the job training to their employees, then apply for any position that they have open. Once you land a job, you can worry about working your way toward the position you want. If you want to manage people, do not be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up. I have a dear friend from high school that started working at Kentucky Fried Chicken in high school and is still there today. No, he is not still working as a fry cook. He worked his way up to corporate management and is doing very well for himself.
When I first came to IMAIGNIT, I wanted to be the training manager. However, the only job that they had open was an applications engineer. So I took that job and worked my way into a project management position, then a solution center engineering manager, and now I am finally the training manager. Of course, now that I am where I wanted to be 5 years ago, I am looking at even better possibilities for my future. The key is I never gave up dreaming and working hard to get where I am today.
2) Making time for hanging out with friends was the most difficult thing for me the first few years. To be honest, I still struggle with it. I work all week long so by the time the weekend comes, I do not want to be away from my children anymore. In order to get time with other adults while being with my children, I like to get together with friends with children of their own. That way, the kids can play and entertain each other while I have the opportunity to have an adult conversation. This keeps me from unloading all my stress on my children while still allowing me to vent. If you go this route, don’t forget to also have an all adult night every now and then. I know that babysitters can get expensive so start by trying to get out at least once a quarter, and then set yourself up so that you can do it at least once a month. You will find you are much happier from it.
3) If you try the things above and you find that you are still not able to be happy, go see a counselor. In the last 5 years, I have gone to two different counselors and it has been the best thing I could have done for myself and my children. It gave me an outlet for my anger and someone to talk to about my fears that did not judge me. Friends and family are great to talk to but having an unbiased individual that can help you better understand why you feel so sad is so beneficial. Don’t think that every session will leave you feeling better. There were days when I left the counselor’s office feeling worse than when I went in, but after thinking about the things we talked about, I was able to put certain events into perspective and overcome the sadness and anger that they created inside me. I am a much better person for having gone and would go again in a heartbeat if I find myself having to fake being happy again in front of my children. Because even though faking being happy in front of my children helped them find stability, being genuinely happy around them makes all the difference in their happiness. They can sense how you are truly feeling and they feed off of your emotions more than many of us realize. Now that I am genuinely happy, I have found that my children listen and mind much better and we all laugh a lot more. You know your children are worth it so do it for them if no one else.
“Kids don’t make up 100% of our population, but they do make up 100% of our future.” – Zig Ziglar