As a single parent, you have to balance work, childcare, dating and coordinating schedules with the other parent (if involved). It can be challenging and, when combined with the general stresses that come with raising children, may make single parenting rough. Fortunately, single parenting does not have to be as stressful as it may seem. If you're currently a single parent, take heart in the fact that you're already doing a lot of things right and use these six pieces of great advice for single parents to help make things even better and keep life running as smoothly as possible.
1. Manage Your Feelings
Your emotions are probably all over the place on a daily basis. When you refuse to cry, scream and express the other emotions you have, it is not healthy for you or your child.
- It's okay to cry and grieve the loss of your marriage or partnership. Have a friend come over to talk, or join a support group for single parents to help work through the emotions.
- You may feel anything from anger to extreme depression about your role as a single parent. Remember these emotions are normal, but you cannot let them consume you. If you feel your anger, frustration and depression are taking over your life, it's okay to see a counselor or talk them over with a friend.
- No matter what your personal feelings are towards you ex-partner, he or she is still your child's parent. Don't speak badly about your ex in front of your kids and remain civil when you see your ex.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Parenting is hard, especially when you are trying to do it alone. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. Focusing on yourself will make you happier and healthier and give you more energy to focus on your child.
- Get a babysitter and go out with a good friend, take a walk or just spend some time crying and dealing with your new situation.
- Set aside a night to catch up on television shows or talk on the phone with a close friend or family member.
- Visit a spa for a day of relaxation.
- Consider starting an exercise program to help deal with stress or anger.
- Avoid feeling guilty when you are not with your child, especially if you now have to work in order to support your family. Your child will come to understand the sacrifices you are making.
3. Don't Try to Do It Alone
Being a single parent does not mean you have to raise your child alone. It is okay to have others play a role in raising your child. The more love and support you can provide for your child, the better things will be.
- Involve your child's aunts, uncles and grandparents in the life of your child and don't be afraid to accept the help they offer.
- If your child's father is not in the picture, ask a male family member or family friend to interact with your child on a regular basis to provide a positive male role model in your child's life.
- Connect with other single parents and meet regularly for support, to swap childcare or share resources.
4. Communicate With Your Children
Your children probably feel a lot of different emotions as well. Even though you are busy, take the time to talk with your children about how they are feeling.
- If newly divorced or separated, help your child understand that this is just a time of change and you'll work through it together. Everything will be okay.
- Constantly tell your child you love him and encourage the other parent, if involved, to do the same.
- Let your child know she can come to you with any issue and that it is always okay to talk about her emotions.
- Keep in contact with your child's teachers and stay-up-to-date with his school progress. A drop in grades or participation may signal something else is going on with your child that you need to talk about.
5. Keep Your Finances in Order
Often being a single parent means living on a single income. This can be tough. Keep your finances in order and start tracking where every penny goes to help take away some of the stress and help make ends meet.
- Create and stick to a budget. Consider places you can make cuts, such as reducing cell phone minutes, choosing a cheaper cable package or packing your own lunch.
- Try and set aside at least a few dollars a month into a savings account to make it easier to handle emergencies.
- If you can, file for child support. Any financial support you can get from your ex-partner can make life easier.
- Look into benefits you might qualify for, such as free lunch or subsidized day care.
6. Remain Positive
While you may want to find a signifcant other or think things would be easier if your child had both parents, you need to stay positive.
- Have confidence in yourself and your ability to provide for your child.
- Take time to laugh and just have fun with your child.
- Focus on your child's successes and realize you played a role in them. You're doing a good job as a single parent.
You Can Do It
While single parenting is a tough job, it is also a fulfilling one. Recruit family and friends to help you, especially if you are new to being a single parent, and get professional help when necessary. Remember, when times get tough, what is most important is providing support, love and affection for your child. If you can provide that, you will be okay.