Christmas is usually a time that is celebrated with family, joy and cheer. You envision children waking up, running to the living room to find presents under a decorated tree. Jumping for joy to see that Santa had been there. Family gathers around to watch each other opening the gifts that adorn the room. It is a magical day!
Unfortunately, that is not every family’s reality.
According to the US Census, nearly 62% of families headed by single moms live in poverty under the poverty line. Imagine if these families are struggling to pay their bills and for their basic life necessities, what it must be like for them around the holidays. The reality is, without programs such as SWFL Santa’s some families would not wake up to run to the living room, they would not find presents under a decorated tree. They are not jumping for joy that Santa had been there. That’s because…he wasn’t!
We know that Christmas doesn’t have to be so bleak. How do we know this? Because we have seen the generosity and giving hearts of our community. Those that have embraced not only our program but others that help so very much during a time that so many desperately need it. Because of this, I know that those children can wake up with the joy that we all remember as a child.
A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL is happy to once again offer the SWFL Santa’s program to single parent households in our community.
Here’s how the program works: The majority of the families are families that are part of the single parents support group program ran by A Mom’s Helping Hand. Once all our families have been sponsored, we have opened the adoption process to other single parent households as a way to assist more single parent households in our community during the holiday season. All families are vetted. We explain that the assistance at Christmas time is a one-time assistance program. They can continue to receive help not only at Christmas but throughout the year with the other programs offered by A Mom’s Helping Hand by attending meetings (currently held virtually, and volunteering their time to the organization).
How does SWFL Santa’s program work: Adopter Responsibilities
This holiday season is most certainly going to look much different for many families with our current challenges with COVID-19. A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL’s SWFL Santa’s program hopes to make this holiday season possible for these single parent households and we need your help. Will you consider adopting a family and give one more family that perfect Christmas they deserve?
So many people in our community are willing to stand strong with us, and support single parent families. They are an invaluable resource, and we are sincerely grateful for the time, referrals, the helping-hands, and monetary donations. These are essential to providing the best program services we can to our AMHH families. Here’s how you can plug in…
A Mom's Helping Hand of SWFL is looking for help with their Adopt-a-Family program. The SWFL Santa's Adopt-A-Family Program matches local individuals and organizations with single parent households during the Christmas season. Many of these families do not have enough money to meet basic needs, let alone purchase gifts.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Adopt-A-Family Program has delivered presents and joy to families for the last five years.
Those interested in participating will be given a Wish List, which will include suggested gift ideas for the adopted family members. Individuals or organizations can choose to sponsor one or more families'.
Gifts are due to our office by Saturday, Dec. 8. Please contact me if you are interested in participating, and include the number of family members you wish to sponsor. If you are interested, you can view the details here.
Image via Pexels
It’s the first day of school. You are sitting in the driver’s seat with your child telling them everything is going to be OK, but nothing you say seems to get through to them. You can’t stay home from school, you tell them. You have to go inside.
Eventually, tears in their eyes, they open the door and slowly walk away from you as they meander toward the school entrance. It breaks your heart to turn them away like that, but what other choice do you have?
If your child has anxiety, you’ve either been in that situation or one extremely close to it. Childhood anxiety can create crippling fear of typically ordinary situations. While other kids may look at the new school year and get excited about picking out school supplies, seeing their friends, and starting lessons, children with anxiety see it as a large unknown where there is potential for anything and everything bad to happen.
You can’t eliminate anxiety in adolescence, but you can teach them how to manage it. First of all, don’t avoid places and events that trigger your child’s anxiety. Allowing them to avoid these things only empowers their fears. You can’t promise nothing bad will happen -- tests can be flunked, accidents happen, and kids can certainly be mean -- but you can assure your child that you are confident in their abilities to make it through it all OK. You can also help your kid think through difficult situations that cause anxiety as a way to model healthy coping mechanisms.
When back-to-school time rolls around, use the following planning and organizational tips as ways to set your child up for success and reduce their feelings of school-related anxiety.
Establish a Positive Morning Routine
Getting back on their school-time sleep schedule is a big part of easing your kids back into school. Not only does it ensure they show up on the first day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but it also helps shift their mindset out of summer mode and back into academic mode. A well-rested brain is a less anxious brain. Jumpstarting a good sleep schedule helps your child mentally prepare for the stress of school and academia. Now is also a good time to get back into a positive morning routine. Routines and schedules are soothing for children; they know what to expect. Adding that little bit of security to your child’s day can give them the strength they need to take on the challenge that is school.
How to Cope with a Heavy Workload
There are many reasons why a child may feel anxious about going back to school, but academic anxiety may be the most common one. While some kids may get academic anxiety as a result of poor test scores or a learning disability, others may feel stressed out by the extreme workload some schools provide and the pressure they feel to complete everything. Whatever the reason behind your child’s anxiety, it helps to spend some time going over any summer reading or assignments they had to do over the break.
Set up a designated spot in the house where they can study and do homework and go ahead and work in a “study hour” when they’ll be doing work once school is in. Even though they don’t have homework at this point, encourage them to read or do math puzzles during this time to wake up the brain.
Older children may benefit from their own laptop they can use to help organize their work digitally. Some high schools are even requiring teens to use laptops in lessons, so teaching them how to use one can help prepare them for that eventuality. Furthermore, while it’s not OK to bribe a child, it is recommended to stoke their excitement for academics with a shiny new tool they can use. Just be sure your parameters and rules are clear and you can monitor their online activity. Not every laptop is created equal, so do your research to find the best kid-friendly laptop on the market.
It’s painful watching your child go through an anxiety attack, but you can’t allow them to avoid school because of it-- that only empowers their fear. You can help them manage their anxiety by giving them tools they can use to feel prepared and mindful. Getting your child back on a morning and homework routine as soon as possible will make it easier for them to transition back into the stressful environment that is school.
Coping with Depression
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
By: Daniel Sherwin
Though getting a divorce is seemingly effortless these days, the trials and tribulations of separation are anything but, wreaking havoc on the lives of everyone involved, including your children. However, life doesn’t have to full of despair. Here are some ways to cope with the ups and downs of divorce and manage melancholy as a newly single parent.
It’s Ok to Be Sad
According to Harvard Health, depression can result in unstable mood imbalances to a stressful life event. Divorce can also trigger melancholia because it’s a huge deal to lose someone you’ve once loved, which can also affect your quality of life once that person is no longer there. Additionally, if you have children, the task of managing their emotions, trying to hold it together and maintaining a sense of normalcy can trigger symptoms of stress, which also causes a breakdown in how you respond to your circumstance, known as situational depression.
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder can also be rampant coming out of the winter months and can even affect those with normal emotional health. Watch for signs such as heavy feeling in arms and legs, excessive sleeping and certain foods that lead to weight gain, as these can also hurt your mood. Engage in a supportive group or surround yourself with supportive family and friends can help to take your mind off of the negativity of what’s happening. To further deter symptoms associated with SAD, make sure to get plenty of exercises, vitamin D, and proper nutrition as the weather gets warmer, which will help to counteract any feelings of gloom.
There’s no time quite like after a hard divorce to surround yourself with those you love most, whether it’s family or friends. Though many couples never rekindle their friendships, it’s essential you at least attempt to get along as a healthy means of getting over a traumatic experience, such as divorce. If you have children together, maintaining a level of cohesiveness can also lessen the challenges of co-parenting.
Children can be one of the biggest causes of stress within a marriage, according to Good Therapy, and even if you are no longer together, it’s essential that you learn to accept what has taken place so that you may move forward productively. Keeping this idea in mind will prove to be especially beneficial when the stresses of family life can take hold.
Make up a game plan of how you will co-parent, so things run along smoothly. Never make your children decide with whom they want to spend the majority of their time. Avoid vilifying the other parent in front of the child and make sure that your children spend equal time with both parents so they may maintain a healthy, loving relationship.
Consider the Children
Encouraging honesty and open community will undoubtedly help your children work through their troubles, which can also benefit you too. Talk to your children about what is going on and what is to come. However, a small child may not comprehend such relationships, so take care to explain any questions he or she may have.
Just because you are divorced doesn’t mean you should also miss out on fun. In fact, this may bring you out of your slump. Partake in neighborhood festivities, go for a bike ride, invite friends and family over for a fun party- all ways to help battle any depression and maintain pleasure and love within the family.
Keep in mind that the best gift you can give your children is kindness, patience, and love. Though finances tend to weaken after divorce, the special memories you can make with your kids will be what they can remember in years to come.
Though it can be tough for a newly divorced parent, it’s all about how you cultivate love and warmth. If you are coping with depression, keep these tips in mind to invite more joy into your life.
It can be challenging to spread your time when you are going it alone, but spending one-on-one time with each of your children is important. When you consistently schedule time with each child you are saying that you are always there for them. They will feel comfortable talking to you about what's goin on in school or at after-school care without their siblings there to make fun.
If they are hurt or really struggling with something you want to be there for them to speak in a more free and trusting environment.
~ Daisha Renee Williams
By: Julie Morris
Over the past couple of decades, one of the biggest areas of growth in the home buying sector is among single women. Not only are more than 20% of all home buyers single women, but since the mid-90s more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership is among single women. If you’re a single woman looking to purchase a home, here are some essential tips you should know.
Shop around for financing
According to a recent study, women are more likely than men to receive a subprime mortgage. The takeaway was that women, faced with stereotypes about not really understanding the whole home buying process, simply aren’t offered some of the better loan options that lenders have. It’s an unfortunate finding, but one that many women who have faced discrimination would not have a hard time believing.
That’s why it’s vital that you shop around for your financing. Review as many options as you can before making a decision. Don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way.
Know what you can afford and beware of “hidden” costs
You may get pre-approved for a home loan that will leave you struggling to make the payments month-to-month. Just because you can afford something, it doesn’t mean you should. Don’t push your limits. A good rule of thumb for determining how much you should spend on a house is to take your annual income and multiply it by three. That’s your low end. Now multiply it by four. That’s your high end. To get a more exact estimate, use an online home affordability calculator, such as this one.
Think about your monthly income, post-tax. You should probably limit yourself to about one-quarter of that when you think about the monthly mortgage payment you can reasonably afford. Why only one-quarter? Well, for starters, because you may have other fixed debt payments already (credit card debt, student loans, etc.) Not only that, but owning a home is way more expensive than just the mortgage payment. “Hidden” costs that can trip up home buyers include homeowners insurance costs, taxes, and repair costs.
When you finally move, consider hiring some help
So you’ve found a house that’s priced within your means, secured solid financing (that you’ve carefully picked from many different offers), and now you’re ready to move out. Should you try to do it all yourself?
You should certainly do the packing yourself. Not only will this give you the opportunity to organize and possibly do some downsizing as you go, but it will save you money in the long run. When it comes to the actual move, however, there are many advantages to hiring moving help. The most obvious advantage is that it saves you the trouble of lifting and finding transport for your bulky, awkward, and heavy items. Not only that, but movers can usually get a job done in a fraction of the time it would take you.
There are some other benefits, too. If you are newly single and moving out of a house or apartment you shared with your partner, movers can put a buffer between you and your ex. It’s nice to be able to hire movers to do a job, and make a clean break from your old life so you can immediately begin to start fresh with you new life, in a new house.
As a single woman, there are many benefits of buying your own home. For one, it’s a great way to make a fresh start. It’s also smart to begin to build equity in something, as opposed to renting. As a woman, however, it’s important to know that you may be treated differently during the loan shopping and even home buying process. If you know this going in, you can better spot those who may underestimate you.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
We are Thankful for our Community!This year we have so much to be thankful for at AMHH. Our donors that help support our mission, volunteers
that give their time, our moms, their children
and all of you!
October is here! The kids are back in school, and Halloween is just around the corner. For many kids, that means dressing up in costumes for trick-or-treating, or for school parties. But for moms, especially those on a tight budget, the thought of buying or making costumes can be a little stressful. Here's some helpful tips!
Costumes, candy, decorations—they all add to the fun, but can put a dent in the budget. Many single moms have to watch every penny, and budget wisely. But with a little imagination, a quick browse on Pinterest, and a trip to the thrift store, they can put together a fun costume for cheap.
Here’s a list of ideas and websites where you can find inexpensive and clever costumes that can be made with household items or things you can easily pick up at a thrift store.
Thrift store costumes don’t need to be elaborate. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the smartest.
Pinterest has pages and pages of ideas. Check out this page for example. While Pinterest can be overwhelming, narrow your search with keywords like DIY, budget, kids, toddlers, etc. Or search for specific characters by name.
We especially liked this “Minion” costume made with a bright yellow hoodie, denim overalls and oversize glasses
Design Dazzle, a fun crafting blog, has a list of do it yourself toddler costumes that even busy moms can easily put together.
(Our favorite on that list is a super-simple Peter Pan costume, which came originally from Babble, a Disney blog. Find instructions here. )
Pretty My Party, a party planning blog, had this super-cute costume idea for little ones:
BuzzFeed offered 51 cheap and easy costumes, including a brilliant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume made by spray-painting an aluminum roasting pan.
One of our favorite thrift stores, Savers, which has a store in Hoffman Estates, offers these ideas for DIY costumes for kids. (We especially liked the Garden Gnome).
Whether you’re trying to stay on budget, or just find a unique costume, hitting local thrift stores is a great way to make this Halloween memorable.
By: Julie Morris
Being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and a solo trip to an exciting destination can be just the break you need to fully restore yourself. There are dozens of benefits to traveling solo, but there are also some things you should know. Here are some important tips.
Mind your safety
It’s fear mongering to say that solo travel is dangerous. It’s not. People travel all over the world with nothing but their whims and a suitcase and have perfectly safe, incredibly enjoyable trips. That doesn’t mean you should be too lax, however. It is important to mind your safety at all times.
It’s very important to know how to say “no” in as many ways as possible. As a solo traveler, you’re more susceptible to people trying to persuade you to do/buy things.
“Learn how to say ‘no, thank you’ in the local language, as well as ‘absolutely not’ – plus the local nonverbal gesture for no, which is often more effective than both. Also have local help numbers, such as the tourist police, programmed in your phone. You’ll probably never need them, but just knowing you have them can give you the confidence to deal with awkward situations,” says RoughGuides.com
Look for solo travelers deals
While there are many benefits to solo travel, there are also some downsides. One is the “single supplement”, where “tour operators, cruise lines and hotels often tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they’re not making money off a second occupant.” Another is good ol’ fashioned loneliness. Sometimes you want - even just for a few hours - someone to experience things with. There are tons of cruises, trips, and set adventure packages for solo travelers that give you the freedom of being alone, with the comfort of never being too far away from travel companions. Here are just a couple of resources.
Be as selfish as is reasonable
One of the main mistakes first-time solo travelers make is they forget they are traveling solo. Let me explain: solo travelers should know it’s ok to indulge themselves in anything they want (within reason). That’s the point of solo travel. You are by yourself - without responsibilities to your children or another traveler with different wants and desires than you.
“Never will you have to apologize to anyone for sleeping in late at your hostel. You don’t have anyone else’s feelings to take into consideration, and that is sometimes the most encouraging reason to travel alone,” says travel site Matador Network.
Why do this?
Why leave the kids behind and travel solo? For one, it’s the ultimate way to refresh, recharge, and focus on you and your desires. For people in addiction recovery, or those dealing with some sort of major life stress, solo travel is perhaps the only way to get a true break from life’s daily stressors and triggers. It’s hard to get perspective on your life from the same place you’re always in. Getting away for a bit can provide the ultimate clarity, and, in turn, show you just why you love and cherish your normal life. That’s the truly restorative effect.
In the end, a solo travel trip is whatever you want it to be - that’s the point. But the one common thread running through most solo adventures is one of restoration and discovery. Not only is it not wrong to want to get away, by yourself, for a bit - but it’s sometimes better than traveling with others.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com