Going it Alone: Tips For Single Parents to Keep Their Sanity
The 2010 U.S. Census estimates indicated that approximately 20 million children are currently being raised in single parent households. Parenting is stressful in households where both parents are actively engaged, and it can be even more stressful when one parent is responsible for all household responsibilities.
Even in situations in which parents share custody, going it alone can still be taxing for the primary parent. If you’re a single parent, there are many resources available with strategies to help you manage the trials and tribulations that are unique to going it alone. Follow these tips to keep yourself balanced so you can raise happy and healthy children.
Lean on Your Support System
When you’re feeling stressed and fatigued from juggling work and home life, you can feel isolated and alone. With so many single parents in the U.S., there is likely a support system at your fingertips. While relying on friends and family is helpful, it can be more helpful to talk to people who are in the same boat. If you don’t know any other single parents in your community, try finding a support group, or attending occasional meetings at your child’s school to be connected with others who may be able to help. These avenues offer a sounding board for situations that are overwhelming. In a Parents.com article, author Laura Broadwell states, “While it’s tempting to try to handle everything alone, ask friends and family members for help.”
Find a Stable Routine
The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping a set routine to provide structure for your child. In a 2014 article, Mayo Clinic staff suggest, “Structure, such as regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes, helps your child know what to expect.” It can be tough to maintain consistency if you’re a single parent with more than one job or a job with flexible hours, so it’s important to ensure that you and your child’s caregiver are on the same page. The Mayo Clinic recommends, “Work with other caregivers in your child’s life to provide consistent discipline.”
Schedule Adult Time
It’s always important for parents to take time away from the kids. Many experts recommend that couples spend time alone together without the kids in order to maintain their own relationship and keep it healthy. This rule also applies to single parents. It is essential to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child. If you have good child care, schedule a day once a month in which you can hang out with friends and do adult things like going to the movies or grabbing dinner. These outings don’t have to be expensive. They can be as simple as taking a walk in the park with an adult friend and catching up. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends incorporating physical activity into your routine. “Include physical activity in your daily routine, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. Arrange time to do activities you enjoy alone or with close friends.”
Find Quality Child Care
While it can be tempting to hire a teen to watch your kids, it is more likely that they will receive more structured care with a skilled caregiver. In a single parent household, money can often be an issue, since the financial responsibilities fall on one parent. However, there are many options for affordable child care. In a 2009 article in U.S. News, author Kimberly Palmer gives recommendations on finding affordable child care. One such idea is a “parenting co-op,” which Palmer describes as follows: “A co-op is usually formed by a group of six or more parents who take care of each other’s children on a rotating basis.” If you’ve joined a support group for single parents, run this idea by others in the group.
Remember: You’re not on an island
Being a single parent can be a daunting job, but with a good support system, single parents can raise thriving children without sacrificing their own quality of life. There are plenty of people in your daily life who are likely willing to help out if you just ask. The simple fact that you are parenting by yourself doesn’t mean that you have to be on an island. Using the resources that are available to you can help give you peace of mind, which will help you raise a happy and healthy child.