I never pictured myself as a single parent. However, the reality was that I ended up parenting alone, over 22 years ago, my youngest of three children was only 5 months old. Although raising my children as a single parent has had its challenges, it has also been rewarding.
I learned the hard way not to take on too much and try to be the ‘perfect’ parent. I kept my family and friends at a distance not wanting anyone to see my weaknesses and struggles. No one saw me juggling a laundry basket on one hip and a baby on the other while trying to get homework done with the oldest daughter while my son wanted me to play with him.
It took me a long time to realize that I needed to prioritize my life and take care of myself.
Here are my top 6 SURVIVAL TIPS to help you deal with the challenges of being a single parent and help create a positive environment for your child.
Tip 1 - Join Forces
You may be a single parent but you are not alone! Build a network of people you trust that can help with childcare, carpooling, and even projects around the house. Your network could include, for example, family members, neighbors, and other parents you meet at your child’s daycare or school. If you don't have family members or friends who can help you, join a support group for single parents. And if there isn't an existing group to join, try starting your own.
Tip 2 - Develop a Routine
All children need routines! Keep mealtimes, bedtimes, and the time the family wakes up in the morning fairly consistent. A structured routine helps give your child a sense of security.
If you are a working parent you may miss your kids during the workday and feel guilty that your job requires you to spend so much time away from them. But don't make up for it at night.
Don’t let the children stay up late for more together time, kids need more sleep than we schedule into our jam-packed lives. Parents need that kid-free time to get things done and just decompress.
Tip 3 - Balancing a Busy Life
Don’t take on too much or else you will burn out! The life of a single parent can be very busy. In addition to parenting and taking care of your home, you may be working and/or going to school. It’s important to find a way to balance all of the parts of your life. Know your limits and identify the warning sign that lets you know that you need to stop, get help or change something.
Tip 4 - Providing Role Models
Children need good role models, who can set an example of how to behave, of both sexes in their day-to-day lives. Family members or friends of the opposite sex can be role models for your child. Invite a positive and responsible family member or friend to spend time with your child. If you don't have a family or friends available, groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters can help.
Tip 5 - Remember to Laugh
Parenting is hard work. All parents have times when they get angry or frustrated. But don't take out your feelings on your child. A sense of humor will definitely make all your stress more manageable and will put things in perspective. Keeping a sense of humor is easier on your psyche and role models good coping skills to your children.
Tip 6 - Schedule Time To Be Alone
Kids, work, house, etc., etc., etc. With all the responsibilities you have your needs may come last or not at all. "Me time" is a very powerful tool. It’s very important that you create pockets of time in your life when you can just be. Do something for yourself at least once a week. Use the time to sit, to think, to ponder. Buy yourself the book you wanted to read, watch a Netflix movie without the kids or take a long hot bath after the kids are in bed. This is one of the most important single parenting tips, and it's one that you simply must make time for. Just remember not to neglect yourself.