Let’s face it. Single parenting is no easy task.
You are faced with a constant need to balance your work life, personal life, and budget even with the tremendous job of parenting. You are also entirely responsible for tending to the emotional, physical and developmental needs of your kids.
Being a single parent to two sons, I have been asked, over the years, how I have managed to remain happy and energetic while juggling my career, kids and other responsibilities. The truth is that I have always felt empowered by being a single mom and have gained strength in my singleness and the freedom that comes with it. Although single parenting may seem demanding, exhausting and challenging, it can be very fulfilling and rewarding. My sons are older now, but here are some tools that I learned along the way to help keep you happy and fulfilled as you navigate single parenthood.
Don’t feel guilty
First of all, learn to “give yourself a break.” It’s easy to feel guilty about working too much (or too little), not having enough money, or even your child’s success. However, dwelling on this guilt will not help improve the situation. It will only paralyze you and suck the energy right out of you. So, stop putting yourself under pressure to get everything right. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes or blame yourself for everything that goes wrong with your kid. All you can do is your best.
Create a schedule or routine
Create routines and stick to them. Start by scheduling things set for a specific time so your kid(s) know what to expect. Create consistency with scheduling wake-up time, bedtime, mealtime, sports practice and games, appointment, and special family time. Not only do routines create stability, but they also ensure less falls through the cracks.
Make time for self-care
Never overlook your self-care; it isn’t selfish. Creating “me time” for yourself is as equally important as having time for your child. I understand you want to sacrifice your needs and immerse yourself in your kids, but it can get overwhelming. When you feel overwhelmed, take a step back, take care of yourself, and when you feel all relaxed and rejuvenated to continue, pick up from where you left off.
Some self-care practices you can engage in include:
-watching a favorite movie
-taking time to exercise
-keeping in touch with friends
-getting enough rest
-getting that mani/pedi in so you can keep yourself looking good
These things help you remind yourself that you and your needs are important too and make you a better parent.
Set goals and prioritize
What would you like to do? Learn to paint, get fit, go back to school or start a new relationship? Take out time to write your goals. This exercise gave me clarity and sharpened my focus. Also, accomplishing tasks is much easier when you have a clear picture of what you want.
While setting goals, ensure you don’t underestimate yourself. Remember all that you’ve accomplished in your life so far and know that while you may not achieve all you want right now, you can still accomplish so much. Your progress might be a little slow, but slow progress is still progress after all.
Take time out to have fun with your kids
Don’t get so caught up in parenting that you forget to enjoy your kids. Yes, you may be busy with work, cleaning, cooking, errands and other responsibilities, but you need to take a break for family fun.
Have fun with your kids and spend quality time together. Let the dishes sit in the sink overnight while you play some games with your kids, walk in the park, visit the local museums or watch a movie together. Joint activities not only create the opportunity for quality time together, but also strengthen your bond and take your child’s mind off the other absent parent.
Ask for help
No matter how strong you are, you seriously cannot do it all. Admittedly, asking for help or even acknowledging you need it might be difficult because you don’t want to burden someone else. However, don’t be afraid to ask for help while being specific about what you need. Even if it’s asking a relative, a friend, or trusted neighbor to pick your kids up on time from sports so you can handle business matters or run an errand, you sometimes need help from others to get everything done and it’s okay to ask.
You need to own being a single parent. Know that some people who have never walked in your shoes will judge you, set expectations or ask intrusive questions. Don’t hesitate to tell these people to mind their business. You owe no one any explanations for your personal life or your family. Also, distance yourself from people who try to weigh your emotions down and make you feel guilty and pressured.
To sum it all, despite the challenges associated with being a single parent, you can still be successful and happy. So, get out there and start living the happy life that you crave and deserve.