Single Parent? This is What You Should be Reading Right Now

This is an article written by single dad Daniel Sherwin –

Raising a child when you have a partner is difficult enough, but for a single parent, the experience can be overwhelming. Trying to maintain a job, take care of household duties and ensure your child is on a good path may seem like an epic feat, but by implementing organization and planning skills into your routine, you can live a more balanced and stress-free life. This is not to say that being a single parent doesn’t have its share of challenges, but you’ll be able to enjoy more quality moments with your child if you have a solid action plan.

Stay Organized

You’re the only one running the show, so it’s crucial that you’re organized.

● Facilitate to-do lists so you can prioritize tasks.
● Make an effort to fill out your digital calendar and set reminders for important tasks such as soccer practice or a doctor’s appointment, but also make a family calendar (such as a large desk version) where everyone can share schedules, activities, appointments, meetings, etc., in one place. Review at the beginning of the week so everyone is on the same page.
● Choose a central communication center within your home — one place where the planning calendar, mail, messages, etc. can always be found. Ensure that it’s a tidy area free from clutter.
● Clutter should actually be eliminated in all areas of the home as it only creates more stress.

Keep A Good Routine For Your Child

Routines are a critical part of a well-run household. Establishing bedtimes, mealtimes, homework sessions, and curfews will benefit your child from a mental health and structure standpoint, but it will also help you effectively plan your own schedule since your child’s routine should remain relatively consistent.

Set Limits

It can be difficult to set limits as a single parent because you may feel sorry for your child, but this will only have an adverse effect. Establish solid ground rules with your child and make sure that you’re always enforcing them. Should there be a caretaker involved, make sure he/she is aware of your expectations.

Simplify Tasks

Not having enough time to do everything is one of the biggest concerns of a single parent — but it’s about working smarter, not harder.

● Cook and freeze meals for the week.
● Take care of all errands (filling the car with gas, grocery shopping, dry cleaners, etc.) in one session so you have more free time during the week.
● Prioritize your activities and learn the power of “no” if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
● Set aside a specific block of time for busy work such as paying bills, returning calls, and scheduling appointments.

Banish Feelings Of Guilt

It’s natural to have some feelings of guilt and to question your abilities from time to time, but these emotions shouldn’t consume your thoughts.

● Identify why you’re feeling guilty so you can establish a plan of action, whether that means therapy, or making an apology.
● Realize that your feelings may be harming your child. Approach your feelings in a healthy way in order to establish a harmonious and happy home environment.
● Forgive yourself and others in order to move forward.
● Redirect feelings of guilt and sadness to feelings of happiness with your child.

Show Your Love

Research has shown that kids from a broken home are five times more likely to suffer from mental health issues than children whose parents stay together. Don’t get so caught up in the stress and minutiae of daily life that you forget to give your child unconditional love and support. Make an effort to spend time quality time together each day.

Find Time For Self-Care

It can be easy to put yourself last, but it’s crucial that you take care of yourself if you’re going to effectively take care of your family. Personal grooming, stress management, exercise, and free time with friends are all important in order to maintain a sense of personal balance in your life.

Find Support

Whether it’s friends, family, or neighbors, it’s okay to ask for help. If you’re hiring an outside caretaker, be sure to do your homework by asking other parents for recommendations. Alternatively, use a reliable service that reveals the credentials and background information of its service providers. Single parent groups are also great places for like-minded camarederie and an opportunity to vent and exchange tips.

At the end of the day, you’re not Superman or Superwoman, so be transparent with your children. It’s okay to admit that you’re having a bad day, but reassure them that things will be better. Just make sure you’re giving your child an age-appropriate level of responsibility so they don’t feel the weight of your single-parenting experience on their shoulders. As difficult as it may be at times, try to stay positive and have a sense of humor when dealing with daily challenges.

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