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Single Parent Help: Why Single Parents Need a Board of Directors

Long ago, I was a struggling single parent of two young sons. Many years and life lessons later, I’m still that woman, just a bit more worldly and a lot less anxious. When learning of my situation, people would often say, “How did you do it? How did you raise two active boys all on your own?”

It’s an honest question and the real answer is, “I don’t know.”

I mean, looking back at the number of literal and figurative miles I put in each day is a bit mind-blowing. What a juggling act! Working full-time, shuffling the boys to daycare and then evening activities, being a homeowner with a house and yard to tend to, and oh yeah, we had two cats (sometimes three). I feel weary just remembering all the bits and pieces.

The truth is that I didn’t do it alone. The boys’ dad was somewhat involved, which did give me a break here and there.

But the real reason for my parenting success was my self-appointed Board of Directors.

When I started my single parenting journey, the boys were toddlers. I was in over my head (and also at my lowest weight to date – stressed much?) and frantic for answers on how to do this thing alone. One evening I collapsed on my bed and started thinking about my network. I’m fortunate to know some incredibly bright and loving people. I thought about their strengths, their vocations, their passions, and I realized they were each experts in different areas.

I had a friend who is a nurse. She was my go-to medical advisor; I knew a special education teacher who helped me with my son’s ADD; a co-worker’s wife is a paralegal who was extremely helpful during my divorce and ongoing legal battles. My neighbor was a chiropractor (and a young mom); my friend Alison was so business savvy and gave terrific job interviewing and career advice; former co-worker and lifelong friend David was a whiz at diagnosing and fixing cars; and my boyfriend Eric was not only also a single parent of two sons, he was an incredible handyman.

As all of these great people and their talents came to mind, I started writing it all down and felt my stress diminish. When I was done, I had a long and comforting list of experts in various categories who were open to helping me out when needed. This list gave me so much peace of mind.

This solo parenting gig can be incredibly lonely, and at times I felt like Atlas with the world on my shoulders. But having my Board of Directors took a ton of that pressure off of me.

Who in your world could serve on your personal Board of Directors?

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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