Get your hands dirty. There is nothing better than planting your own flower or vegetable garden, you can even make one in your home. Chlorophyll brings oxygen into the air. Dirt is fun.
Cook with your kids. I wrote I Can Make You Hot with my kids. We catalogued my family recipes, and created our own by trial and error. Making mistakes was never so fun.
Don't blame. Leave the blame for Pre-K. You are competent and raising the adults of the future. Show them how proactive you are and how you came up with solutions to problems. Venting and blaming are not the same.
Give. The best use of your free time is helping those who can't help themselves. Blog about a water charity, help feed the homeless, or raise awareness about a local cause. Get involved and use your contacts from work and school.
Kids give back. Let your children give back, too. What are they passionate about? What bothers them? Let them be problem solvers, and find solutions to issues that concern them. It's good practice to be proactive.
Fight. Before arguing with a loved one, stop. Do you want to fight to win, or be happy? Use 'I' sentences. I get upset when ... I hurt when ... Be mindful of the friends and loved ones in your life. You aren't their LIFE COP, you are their friend first.
Read out loud. Read out loud to your kids and have them read to you about their family, where they live, and what they like. For an added bonus, read with an English accent.
Gum. For those who hate gum, think again. Give your son or daughter a juicy piece of gum, and let them tell you everything. Listening required.
Trend up your home. Your home reflects you, so why not flip through your favorite magazines and add a little color or style to your home every season? How about a cobalt pillow for your couch, or bright plastic glasses for your picnic, or monogram your anything to personalize it (paper napkins, beach towels)?
Get creative. Instead of shopping and dragging your kids in stores they hate, show them online things you love. They may see you in a different way. OpenSky.com has everything from beauty, handbags, to hair ties.
Get colorful. So your daughter wants to dye her hair. Get some Kool-Aid, make it, and dip the tips of her hair into the Kool-Aid. In seconds, you've got pretty dyed tips that fade beautifully, and your hair doesn't get ruined.
Publish your own book with iPhoto. Take all of your pictures, write fun captions, print, and read. There's nothing better than flipping through a book about your family.
And the number one absolute no-no for single parents: Do not speak ill of your ex, ever. The way you handle the man or woman you once loved is how your children will handle future relationships. Explain that sometimes in life there are situations that cause separation. If there is an addiction issue, show your children how you deal with it, and be positive about how they should approach a loved one with an addiction. Hiding, blaming, or negativity toward an ex is only hurting the family as a whole. Prepare your children for the future, give them the tools to navigate.
Reporting by Hilary Sheinbaum