To say that being a single parent is a challenging job would be a colossal understatement, but it doesn’t have to feel like Mission Impossible. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the demands of solo parenting, keep the following tips in mind to help you minimize stress and get through those inevitable rough patches that come with the territory.
1. Do your best to create a consistent daily routine for mealtimes, bedtime, homework, chores, and so forth. Create a calendar and establish a set order for your regular household duties such as laundry, cleaning, sorting the mail, etc. This will help you stay organized, which will reduce much of the stress that comes with being responsible for running all aspects of the household. In addition, an environment of structure and predictability will convey a sense of security and stability for your child, so that they’ll know what to expect on a daily basis.
2. Pay close attention to your finances. It’s no mystery that raising a child on one income can be very difficult at times, so do your best to watch your spending like a hawk. Explore creative ways to save money and reduce expenses by couponing, shopping at discount stores, etc. Find out how to make every last dollar stretch as far as possible. You may also need to look into ways to boost your earning power by going back to school or receiving additional training at your current job.
3. Don’t try to go it alone. Let’s face it–single parents need help. Work on establishing a support system of friends, family members and/or trustworthy neighbors who can watch your kid(s) while you run errands, or even help around the house. While it may feel like you’re imposing at times, you might be surprised at how open and willing some people are to help you when you need it.
4. Reserve some time to spend with your kid(s) on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, we can get so caught up in all of the peripheral aspects of parenting (e.g., scheduling doctor’s appointments, shopping for school clothes, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc.) that we can actually put spending time with our children on the back burner! Be sure to set time aside to read together, watch movies, play, walk around the neighborhood, play catch, etc. Invest time and effort into keeping your connection with your child healthy and strong.
5. Recognize that being a parent is an experience that is constantly changing and evolving, and that facing the unknown is the only thing you can expect. Not only will your child go through several different phases of growth and development, but you as a parent will continue to evolve as well. You’ll quickly realize that there are no “one size fits all” solutions that will work every single time. With this in mind, go easy on yourself; you’re not going to hit a home run every time you come up to bat, but as long as you do your best, you can reasonably expect to have a positive overall parenting experience.