Parenthood has its ups and downs. While it can be incredibly rewarding, there are also certain challenges that may be more difficult to manage, especially as a single parent.
Follow these practical self-help tips for single parents to make it easier for yourself:
Lean on Your Support System
Reach out to people who only have your best interests in mind. Talking to friends and family can do wonders for your emotional health. Share your experience with them and let them support you in their own ways. Being a single parent doesn’t mean you don’t have help from your direct community and support system. Some of them may even have useful advice.
Remember that others may also be going through a similar experience. When you feel ready, try to meet other single parents in your community. Joining a support group can relieve you of some common stressors. For example, you can take turns helping each other whether that’s through coordinating potluck meals or carpooling.
Look for External Resources
Don’t hesitate to get an extra helping hand. Work with a caregiver you trust or enroll your child in a daycare service. Look into getting financial aid with a child support lawyer. Avoid feeling guilty for exploring your options. Remember that at the end of the day, this will all contribute to providing a safe environment where your child can grow.
Set Firm Boundaries
Parenting alone comes with multiple responsibilities that may spread you out too thin. Take a step back and realistically identify how many tasks you can perform. Sometimes, it’s necessary to set others’ expectations, too. Let your friends and family know that you may not be able to partake in as many activities as you used to.
Set boundaries within your household, too. Have age-appropriate house rules and responsibilities for your children. A few common examples include limiting their screen time, delegating a few chores, and speaking respectfully.
Stay In Touch With Yourself
Take some time to unwind after putting your kids to sleep. Enjoy your downtime and fill it with music instead of turning on the TV. Listen to some of your favorite playlists, preferably with songs that help you process how you feel or daydream. This way, you stay in touch with your individuality and inner power.
Keep a journal and fill it with entries about your day. To start with, try blocking out a time frame where you can sit down and note every thought that passes through your head. After a while, you may feel a sense of relief or discover solutions to existing problems. Still, don’t worry if you can’t use it daily. Regardless of how often you write in it, having one on hand gives you an opportunity to better manage your emotions.
Prioritize Your Health
Keeping yourself physically healthy will give you the added mental strength you’ll need as a single parent. Eat nourishing food, take breaks, and try to get enough quality sleep. On top of that, make sure you follow a regular exercise routine.
If you’re caring for an infant, you can place them in their stroller as you take a walk around the neighborhood. Likewise, you can use this time to bond with your child when they are old enough to ride a bike or run beside you. You can even play certain sports like soccer or volleyball if you have older kids.
Verbalize Positive Affirmations
Put in the effort to actively be patient, reassuring, and loving of yourself. Speaking a few words of kindness to yourself daily can influence your attitude and behavior. Choose affirmations that are meaningful to you and over time you may notice a positive difference in the way you feel.
Establish a routine early on that your family can follow consistently. Morning routines can help your kids get ready for their school day on time. Meanwhile, bedtime routines can help you spend quality time with them without keeping everyone up late. Track any one-time appointments on a color-coded calendar so you can differentiate between family and personal activities.
When you’ve found your rhythm, take it a step further and have a set time and day of the week for meal prepping. Have a few recipes you can rotate throughout the month. Ideally, try to plan a week’s worth of meals in advance. This means that you will be more prepared and less stressed whenever you go grocery shopping as well.
Remember that parenting isn’t a competition and you don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself a break and a pat on the back from time to time. After all, taking care of yourself will always allow you to take better care of your kids, too.