9 Ways to Cope As a Single Parent
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Parenting is not an easy task, and if you are a single parent, it becomes tougher to raise your child all alone.
Bringing up children alone can be very stressful unless you know how to become a better parent.
I’ve lots of friend’s and a few family members who are single moms or single dads, and yet they are raising their children so well.
Hats-off to all such parents for managing their kids single-handed! I think they inspire people like you and me, isn’t it?
Today’s post is dedicated to every single mother and single father for doing such a great job of raising their children in the best possible way.
So, if you are a single parent, or have been a child raised by a single parent, or know someone who is parenting alone, you might find this post useful.
With changing times and the often seen breakup in families, single parenting has become quite common, especially in places like the United States, where even the divorce rates are pretty high.
Other reasons like personal circumstances, abandonment, and sometimes even death can leave a parent alone to handle and cope with the nurturing, challenges, care-giving, joys, and sorrows meant to be shared by two.
However, single parents, even though they face many challenges while raising their children, do a very good job of it.
“Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride.” ~ Unknown
Let’s try to understand all that they go through briefly here.
Challenges a Single Parent Faces
Single parenthood can be very overwhelming and stressful at times because you have to raise your kids on your own, without your partner.
According to psychologists, single parents are very overwhelmed initially, which can often lead to problems with disciplining their child. In most cases, the parents become too strict or too lenient.
If one of the parents feels guilty for the separation or death of the other parent, then such parents at times avoid disciplining their kids.
Or they become lenient with house rules, and try to overcompensate their children with gifts.
I have an aunt who lost her husband, and to compensate for his loss, she spoilt her kids by giving them anything they asked for. Disciplining them was a far cry for her!
Parents without partners face many challenges while bringing up their children, yet they raise them to the best of their abilities.
If you are a single parent, then perhaps these are some of the common challenges you might be facing –
• Fatigue and stress, due to having the sole responsibility to take care of your child, especially the day-to-day child care and development.
• Persistent worry and disturbed mental peace because you feel there’s lack of a perfect parental role model for your child due to a missing parent.
• Discipline problems handling your child, especially if you’re working or have existing unmanageable work load.
• Inadequate emotional support to your child, which could result in behavioral problems in your child. Not to mention that if you have a teen, then parenting teenagers is a difficult task!
• Raising a child and juggling between work, might leave you socially isolated with hardly any friends to share or discuss things with.
• Face lack of adequate financial support or income, and even less access to health care.
This list of challenges that a single parent faces can be endless, and I may not be the best person to talk about it as only the single mom or single dad going through it all, would know more about it.
It might be tougher than what you or I think. But just as there are challenges in life, there are also solutions or ways you can use to overcome such challenges.
Ways to Cope With Challenges for Single Parents
It’s not only single parents but any parent who faces many challenges while parenting.
No matter what, as a general rule, you need to remember to take care of yourself first and reduce the stress due to the parenting challenges.
Here are some ways that can help parents, especially parents without partners, to cope with the challenges of single parenting –
1- Look after yourself
I place this point right on top because parents without their partners are known to ignore themselves as they have a very busy life.
But if you don’t take care of yourself, you might not be able to take care of your kid’s, so the choice is always in your hand.
Try to include physical activities as part of your daily routine. Ensure you get plenty of sleep because sleep deprivation can lead to various other health issues. Also, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Take a break occasionally and go out with friends or other family members – you deserve that bit of an outlet!
2- Follow a routine
As a single parent, you need to play the part of both the parents, while you are at home or at work – to sustain yourself and your family.
Thus, you need to follow a proper routine where you schedule a proper time for your children’s homework, bedtime, mealtime, and other tasks.
This is important because it helps create an automated schedule so that your child also knows what to expect when. More so, you can also take out time for doing other tasks that need your attention.
3- Take out quality family time
Parenting alone takes a lot of your time, but you need to take out time for your child and ensure you are with him or her – whenever need be.
Even otherwise, make sure you are ‘with’ them. Simple things like just sit with them, read, cook, play, watch TV, or perhaps take up any activity that you both enjoy doing together.
Don’t forget to show your unconditional love by appreciating their little efforts, and help them cope with change in their life. Remember, it’s not easy for them too.
You need to give them double the love of both parents, by showing your support always. You have just each other, so make the best of it 🙂
4- Be reasonable
Single parenting also means you need to be a little more considerate at times, while at other times have a large heart. Yes, you need to discipline your kids, but do it with love.
Explain to your child the rules you lay out and all that you expect them to follow. Things like picking up their toys or clothes from the floor or bed, talking respectfully, or helping you if need be, do help.
If you are a single mom or single dad, you need to keep a limit to the time your child is online, or set a limit to their computer time.
Or at times become strict with them and stop the usage of what they like – just to bring them back on line!
5- Be careful
If you have more than one child, usually the older sibling is a great help and learns to take care of the younger one.
But you cannot entirely rely on them to do so, nor can you trust a new friend or other family members entirely with your children, unless you know them very well.
So, if you send your child to day care, ensure that the people there are qualified, and they provide a safe and secure environment.
On the other hand, if you have someone to baby-sit or look after your child in your absence, ensure he or she is trustworthy.
You also need to be prepared to handle emergencies by keeping your first aid ready at home. Preparing a list of emergency numbers of family and friends can help in your hour of need.
6- Seek help
Just because you are parents without partners doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone!
There are many single parenting support groups, social networking sites that you can join, or seek social service if you want. Or perhaps you can build or join a community of like minded solo parents.
Sharing your life with other single mothers and single fathers, or calling a trusted loved one, friendly neighbor, or family for help does no harm.
In fact, you get to learn much more from each other and can share your joys and sorrows with parents who sail in the same boat as you do.
7- Be financially stable
Single parenthood means you need to first adjust to a new lifestyle, and the sooner you get used to it, the better. You’ve to educate and learn how to make yourself financially secure.
Take into account – your retirement, education, investments, and saving for the holidays too, which are important stress busters.
Being a single mom or single dad also means that you need to cater to the expenses. Write down all that you spend weekly, so that you know how much money you are spending and saving.
Take into account the unexpected costs that suddenly show up, and save money for emergencies. Make sure you’re getting all that you’re entitled like child benefit, tax credits, and income support, etc.
There are many tools such as tax estimators and calculators, budgeting programs, and expense trackers available online that can assist with this.
8- Remain positive
Single parenting can be a roller coaster ride, and it’s alright to have occasional mood swings. However, don’t let your attitude and mood swings affect your child.
Instead, be open and share your feelings with them. If they are old enough, they will understand and support you, and if they are young ones, just tell them it’s been a difficult day for you.
You’d be surprised as to the way even the younger children understand things because they see all that you go through.
Reassure them that things will get better. Remember, they are children and need to feel secure, which happens only through your words and actions.
9- Don’t feel guilty
There are times when single parents might have thoughts about depriving their child of the other parents love, and that’s very normal.
If you have a meltdown and find yourself in tears – don’t worry! Gather yourself, and accept that such is life and gather your inner strength once again.
Don’t blame yourself for things that have happened! Perhaps it was the best possible solution and meant to be. Nor should you spoil your child by trying to make up for being a single parent.
“Raising a family is difficult enough. But it’s even more difficult for single parents struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need more obstacles. They need more opportunities.” ~ Bill Richardson
Single parenthood can be really tough. Striking the right work life balance, accompanied with the needs of your children can be tough on one parent. Here are some more tips that can help you –
Single Parenting Tips to Help You
Some single parenting tips that might help single moms and single dads that I’ve noticed a few of my family and friend’s use –
• Be honest with your children. Let them know about the changes in your life.
• Don’t try to be the perfect parent. Accept the fact that you cannot be both parents. Just do your best.
• Avoid taking out your anger on your children.
• Let your children help you with small age appropriate chores around the house. You’d be surprised at the amount they’d be able to do, which would be a great help to you as well.
• Listen to your children and give them your undivided attention when they talk. You need to bond better so that your child will open up with you completely.
• Setting boundaries for your children helps them understand things they can do and those they can’t.
• Choose a place where kids are challenged to think about their bad behavior when you want them to be punished a little – time out time!
• Switch off the TV when they are doing their homework, and ensure that they don’t watch television during mealtimes. Make that a “Us Time”. 🙂
• Don’t be afraid to say no to things you cannot do, like volunteering for fundraising at your child’s school, or doing things that drain your energy.
• Plan out meals as well as your child’s lunches, well in advance. This saves you last minute hassles.
• Shop for groceries once a week so that you don’t spend time rushing to fetch things each time something finishes at home.
• Stock up your refrigerator with a few frozen, boxed-meals or fast-food meals, just for the days when you are really busy.
• Join single parenting support groups, forums, and websites where you get information, and advice. You can even use their online chat rooms to talk to other single parents. Studies indicate that parents who get support are able to use better parenting skills as compared to those who try to do it alone.
• If your ex is allowed to see your child, don’t make the meeting a bitter one. Nor should you fill up your child’s mind with negative thoughts about your ex, just because you have them. Yes, where money matters and maintenance is concerned, you need to talk those issues out.
• If you are dating, remember that your new partner will have an impact on your child. Wait to strengthen your relationship before you introduce your partner to your child. Your partner should treat you and your child with respect. Give them time to know each other and develop a relationship.
• Have fun! Single parenthood, we all know isn’t easy – but you have to ensure you and your child have your happy moments too, which keep the stress and worry away.
I’m sure you’d like this video single parents and the way they cope – short and sweet 🙂
Group Documentary on Single Parents ~ YouTube video
Being a single parent is a challenging task.
But it can be a rewarding one if you can be honest with your child, remain positive, express your love, which can reduce the stresses of single parenting and help your child to become a better person.
Let me pep you up a little if you are parenting all alone. You do have the brighter side to see to, like – you are the boss, and there is no one you have to be answerable to, unlike normal parents!
You even have a good chance to get close to your kids because you’d have lots of time to bond together with them.
You’d also learn a great deal about yourself, in the moments when you are alone, which makes you a stronger, wiser, and a more independent parent.
“The best situation is being a single parent. The best part about is that you get time off, too, because the kids are with their mom, so it’s the best of both worlds. There’s a lot to be said for it.” ~ Larry David
What every single parent is doing alone IS commendable, and something both parents at time cannot even achieve. I think you are doing great for yourself – rise up and shine! 🙂
Over to you –
If you are a single parent, or have been a child of a single parent – I encourage you to share your experience with others, so that they can benefit from yours. How do single parents cope? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos