Tips for Being a Successful Single Parent
Being a single parent is one of the toughest jobs there is. You have to do everything for yourself and your kids, while trying to maintain a home, job, and social life. It might seem like an endless cycle of stress, but there are ways to do it and not feel like you’re constantly under water.
If you have an ex that shares custody with you, then you have some time to yourself to rest and stay organized. But you may also have added stress if you and your ex don’t see eye to eye on parenting issues.
A key to managing children in a single-parent household is a good routine. Children thrive on routine, and they love to know exactly what to expect with each day. It helps them feel secure and not in constant fear of the unknown. Try to create a schedule of each day for your kids, and work with them so they can take on as much responsibility as they can for their age. Feeling like they’re contributing to the household will give them a sense of pride. Chore charts and checklists will definitely help communicate this for them.
If you’re sharing custody with someone, get an online calendar system that you can share. That way, you and your ex can add events so that each person knows what’s happening in the child’s life, such as school, music, tutoring, and athletic events. Keeping kids on the same bedtime routine in both homes can be a challenge, but as long as you do your best to stay consistent in your own home, your children will respond to it.
Meal planning is also essential in dealing with your kids’ food choices. Coming home from work and rummaging through the pantry to find something to eat while your kids whine that they’re hungry only adds to your stress. Spend a little time on the weekend planning meals for the following week. Then, you can go shopping and have everything ready. By making a list of what’s for dinner for the entire week, your kids can prepare themselves for that week’s meals. If you give them some say in the planning and take them grocery shopping, they’ll be more likely to buy into the plan.
If your separation or divorce is new, children need extra time to process it and understand what’s happening. Talking about their feelings and making sure they understand that it’s not their fault is critical.
Lean on your friends and family as much as you can. If you’re too stressed out and need a break, have your mom or sister watch the kids for you for a few hours so you can relax. Have someone who can pick up the kids from school in an emergency so that if something comes up at work, you know the kids will be taken care of. Having support from family and friends can ease your burden, but you have to learn to say yes to offers of help.
The most important thing you should remember as a single parent is to spend time with your kids. Don’t just sit and watch TV with them all day—get out and do stuff. Take them to a park, zoo, trampoline park, or laser tag. Play with them in the yard or bring them to the playground. If you can’t afford expensive trips, play a game or read a book together.
Remember that your kids are only young once, so you don’t want to miss it. Enjoy your time with them and take lots of photos. Later, when they’re older, they’ll always know that you were there for them when they needed you. And when they’re adults, they’ll raise their children by your example. Nothing could be more precious.
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