The 2014 Census reports that there are over 12 million single parent families in the USA, the majority of those parents are single mums, but there are some dads out there tackling the task as well.
Parenting is tough, with or without a partner, but doing it alone can pose additional challenges. The good news is, raising children alone is not uncommon and it can be just as joyous an experience for a single parent.
We could all use some parenting survival tips. Here are a few ideas to help make this crazy ride run a little smoother.
As you can see by the numbers, there are many other parents out there in a situation similar to yours. Get out there and meet them! You can lean on one another, plan play dates, swap recipes and even help each other out with babysitting. Sometimes, just having someone to listen and know what you are going through can be very comforting. Make sure you put yourself out there, you really haven’t got anything to lose.
Where can you meet people?
Try support groups, the park, the swimming pool, the mall, playgroup, or even the grocery store, there are probably some single parents right in your own neighbourhood. Once you get out and start socialising, you will find friendly faces (or frazzled ones) all over the place. And, don’t limit yourself, keep an open mind.
Just because someone is married doesn’t mean they aren’t raising their kids alone the majority of the time. Their mate could be in the military, working out of town or simply working long hours. Friends come in all shapes and sizes and in this case, one size will fit all!
Even that happy couple you see raising their kids together could turn out to be a great support system. Trust me, they have problems too!
If your parents offer to take the baby for the afternoon or your friend wants your child to go to the movies with them, agree.
Accepting help is not a sign of weakness.
You are strong every day and getting a much needed break will make you an even better parent. You have nothing to prove so don’t let pride get in your way. You are still human and you need a change from Sesame Street and chicken nuggets every now and then. People are more than willing to help if you just ask, accept invites to dinner at friend’s houses, join the local carpool, ask a friend to babysit while you go grocery shopping!
Don’t forget you
We become so obsessed with taking care of all our children’s needs, we often neglect our own.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
This might mean the dishes don’t get done or the laundry is piling up, that’s okay.
Go easy on yourself.
Don’t forget to eat, and order a healthy takeaway if you need to. When (and if) you find yourself with a free moment, cherish it and relax. Enjoy a cup of tea or a tasty snack.
Have a backup plan
As single parents, we need to have a plan in place. What happens if your meeting runs late or you have to work overtime? What if your little angel is running a fever and can’t go to daycare? What if you become too sick to get out of bed today?
Have a plan on who to call for help. And, backup the backup plan.
Sometimes your parents don’t live close by and you don’t have friends who are available all the time, this is where your networking comes in handy. Many mums will babysit an unwell child, and take care of that child very well. You need not feel like you are placing a burden on anyone else. If they can’t do it, they will say so.
Believe in yourself
Alright, maybe the cake is store-bought. Maybe you don’t do things like your mum would have. Maybe little Junior is wearing two different socks today.
The point is, you are getting things done and you are doing this parenting thing.
Be proud of yourself and believe in your abilities. To your child, you are the most important person in the world and they never doubt you for a minute. Some days will be hard and it’s alright to sit on the couch with some hot chocolate, in your socks and not fold the washing. It’s even better to spend the night eating junk food and watching movies with your kids.
Stick to a daily routine
If you plan regular meal times, bath nights, homework time, etc. your child will feel more secure and you will feel more organised and in control. Be consistent with discipline as well. Then, your children know what the expectations are and what the consequences are for breaking the rules.
Sooner or later, your children will learn this routine for themselves and you won’t have to enforce it so much.
Spend time with your children
Sounds simple, right? But often with work and school schedules, time together is brief and hurried.
Be sure to make time for walks, reading, playing or just talking.
Even if you and your child are home together all day, focus on quality time when you can. Life can be a whirlwind but loving our kids and cherishing these moments is what it’s all about. They will grow up in the blink of an eye and you will miss the days they wouldn’t get off your lap.
Parenting is hard. Some days it just won’t work, but you wouldn’t be the same person if you weren’t a parent. Accept help where it’s offered, ask for it when it isn’t and find other mums and dads to talk to and share with. You might just be someone else’s lifeline one day!
Do you know a single parent who needs some help now and then? Share with us below.
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