Single Mom Swap Meet, A Great Way to Help Others

How did it get to be that time again already?  I was at the mall yesterday and there was Christmas Music playing!  Really?  Where did this year go?  As I get older, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly a year passes.

I remember during my Single Mom Journey about this time of year is when the major stress would settle in.  First there was the cost of a Halloween Costume, once we agreed on one, then family dinner for Thanksgiving which was always followed by the expense of Christmas.  Add to the pile that my daughter’s birthday is two days after Christmas and you’ve got Excedrin Stress Headache #99!  I was blessed that my parents lived in the same City so during the winter school holiday I didn’t have to pay for daycare, but I still didn’t seem to ever have any extra money for the holidays.

It was this time of year that the Single Mom Swap Meet would have come in handy for me, but the idea didn’t come to me until after my daughter was already out of school.  Today I think it would be very helpful to Single Moms everywhere.

The purpose of the Single Mom Swap Meet is to gather as many Single Moms as you can and have them bring all of the items around their house that they don’t need or that their children don’t use anymore.  Like sports equipment, fancy dress clothes for holiday’s, electronics, books, shoes, musical instruments, basically whatever they have that is in good shape that another Single Mom may need but can’t afford.  The list really is endless.  Now here’s the catch.  It is a REAL Swap Meet…meaning that people actually swap for things.  No money exchanges hands at all.  Since money is tight and almost nonexistent for most people, especially Single Moms, it truly becomes a swap meet and everyone benefits from it.

I’ve had people organize these from their Church groups, PTA’s, work friends and now with the Social Network availability, you can create a huge event in your neighborhood with just a click of a button!  You will be amazed by the amount of stuff you are able to clean out of your house and the things you are able to get that you just wouldn’t be able to afford on your own.

Take Seasonal clothes for example.  Between the ages of 2 & 4 it seems that every 3 months kids grow an entire size leaving things like shoes, boots & winter jackets too small after only being worn a couple of times.  It is crazy.  That stuff isn’t cheap to buy in the first place.  How great would it be to be able to give them to another Single Mom who has a kid that needs them? What about your kid who is sure that they want to take up playing the trumpet?  You aren’t real sure that it might work out, nor are you anxious about the noise of the daily practice sessions, but you want to let your kid try.  Once you begin to add the cost of weekly lessons to the monthly rental of the instrument it becomes very expensive.  Maybe there is a Mom who has a trumpet stuffed in her hallway closet that her child played years ago and is now just taking up space.  You could help each other out!

Some friends have held these Single Mom swap meets twice a year and have made a Pot Luck out of them.  They’ve successfully cleaned out their garages, closets & kids rooms while helping out others, eating great food and making new friends!  It’s a Win-Win situation!

Look around your house and think about forming your very own swap meet.  You can reach out to neighbors, church friends, work associates, and electronically as well to create a large, successful event.  Maybe you can have it at the end of your block, or in someone’s garage.  You can also create an e-mail list of invitees and send out a Wish list ahead of time so that the Moms who are in need of specific items can list them in case someone has what they need.   You can be as creative as you want.  Think about it and spread the word.   It also becomes a great opportunity to network with others who are going through a lot of the same things that you are.  Being a Single Mom these days may be considered common place, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I remember times when I just wanted to run and hide because I was overwhelmed and felt so alone while raising my daughter.  I was sure I was doing everything wrong.  To have others around who understood truly what I was going through made all the difference to me and kept me from feeling like a complete failure.

I’ve always believed that in life it truly does “Take a Village”…  We are all here to live, learn and help one another.  Life is difficult for everyone and the Journey through Single Mom-hood can be exhausting & overwhelming, but if we remember to reach out and reach back to help each other, then the road can become smoother & we find that we don’t have to travel it alone.

I would love to hear how your event goes and how you personalized it, so send me an e-mail and keep me updated, please.

Until next time, keep up the good work of raising your family and try to breathe more and stress less this coming holiday season.  Remember that it isn’t about what you buy for your family that matters most; it’s what you give to them each and every day that leaves a footprint on their hearts.  So just do the best you can and Love them and teach them to Love.  That is the Greatest gift of all and will last them a lifetime.

Take good care and be well my friends.    Torie B.

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