Parenting isn’t easy for anyone, but as a single parent, it can feel like everything you do is wrong. However, single parent families are more common than ever before. Read more below for advice on how to manage and survive some of the challenges that single parents experience, and what you can do to raise a happy and healthy child.
It takes a village
Having dependable people that you can count on to talk to and to help you along your parenting journey is crucial. Find out what community resources are available in your area, and look into joining a support group for single parents. It can be a calming reminder that you are not alone in your situation, and you can lean on each other for advice. Even something as simple as knowing you have somebody you can call to get your child from daycare when you’re stuck in traffic or running late will help alleviate some of the weight on your shoulders.
Take time for yourself – and leave the guilt behind
Everyone deserves “me time”, even single parents. Doing something you enjoy without your kids in tow will help your physical and emotional health, and will recharge your parental batteries. Parents rely on the other to help take some of the pressure off, and you should rely on your “village” to help you too. If you can’t find a sitter, take time for a bubble bath and a magazine after the kids are asleep or ask your kids to play with the neighborhood children while the big game is on.
Create a routine and set limits
Regularly scheduled meals and bedtime structure helps your child know what to expect and maintain consistency. If you are co-parenting with your ex, work together to find a routine that will be consistent in both homes. Take the time to explain house rules and expectations to your child and actually enforce them. This is where the teamwork between both households can be tricky, as its easy to feel as if you are “the bad guy” more often than not, and communication with each other is key.
Stay positive, not perfect
Dwelling on the worry that you aren’t doing a good job as a parent will not only stress you out, but your child too. You might be the only parent, but your kids will have a strong, independent role model to look up to, that has their best interests at heart. Feeling like you are on the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, can wear on anyone pretty quickly. If you feel upset, it is okay to let it out. Emotions are meant to be let out, and dealing with them in a healthy way will also set a good example for your child. It is okay to be honest with your child if you’re having a difficult time. However, it is important to remind them that things will get better with time.
Being a single parent doesn’t have to mean you are doing everything on your own, and taking care of yourself will help take care of your family. For more resources for single parents, check out Single Parent Advocate’s website here.