Whether you are a single parent through circumstance (divorced or bereaved), or through choice, it is generally agreed that the road travelled by the single parent can be rocky at times. The instances of children living in single parent homes are increasing year on year and with this growth comes a whole wealth of new thinking and tips about the best ways to cope.
Dealing with anything on your own brings a certain level of stress. But raising a human being alone? That is a tough call. Read on for some common sense pointers on navigating the single-parenting journey…
Single parent means single income, so unless you are generating mega-bucks, you may need to take a look at your finances. It may be that you are receiving contributions from an ex-spouse, but whatever the circumstances, single parents need to focus on finances so that long term plans such as retirement, university funding and investments are not overlooked. Many single parents choose to return to higher education for further qualifications and training that will enhance their earning power. Whatever your situation is, be wise and get a good grip on the finances from the start.
Everybody needs to let off steam at some time or another. Single parenting can be super-tough – you are always on duty when it is just you. Give yourself a break by developing a support network you can depend upon. It could be family or friends living close by who help with collecting children from school, for example. Alternatively, if such contacts don’t live close by, get in touch with RockMyBaby , an agency in London who supply fully vetted and qualified childcare staff on a tailored basis. Whether it’s part time, full time, a couple of hours a week or any other combination, RockMyBaby puts you in touch with nannies and babysitters ready to take up the reins when necessary.
Children feel safe and secure when they know what to expect so try to develop a regular routine at home as much as possible. Regular mealtimes, bedtimes, chores and homework arrangements should all roll out consistently, thus increasing the chances of household harmony.
Try and apply discipline consistently and if you have an ex-partner, discuss with them the rules and methods of discipline used. Kids thrive when boundaries are well defined and they know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. It is stressful when a partner undermines your authority by letting certain behaviours go unpunished – this can be a bit of a minefield because often the absent parent will be reluctant to admonish a child they see infrequently, for fear of damaging the relationship. Children can soon get wise to this state of affairs and can be manipulative – wherever possible, stress is reduced all round when both parents stand firmly together on the matter of discipline.
When you are a newly single parent, it is inevitable that at some point your children will ask questions. They will want explanations, reassurances and answers as to why the family has changed. Be honest and open and respond in an age-appropriate way – do not mislead or tell white lies that will come back to haunt you later on. Children are hugely forgiving and adaptable beings and we should give them credit for that. As long as they feel secure in your love and commitment to them and they know that you are not going to leave one day, your job is done. Be alert to kids struggling with difficult emotions and get them appropriate external support if necessary. Try and banish the word guilt from your vocabulary and focus on the positives you bring to being a single parent.
Solo parenting is a challenge and sometimes it will feel as if there is never enough time to get through the laundry, dirty dishes and other household grind. However, if you can, try and take a moment each day to spend quiet time with your kids either reading a book, sharing a favourite TV programme or walking the dog together – and focus on all the fantastic things about being a parent and the close links you and your kids enjoy.
Being a single mum or dad is never going to be a walk in the park, but help keep the element of joy in parenting by focusing on these easy, stress-busting approaches..