How to Make Single Parenting Work
By Daisha Renee
I have been a single parent for almost 3 years now. I nearly ran myself in the ground trying to do and be everything without thinking about my mental and physical health. Single parenting can be very challenging. Over the years, I’ve learn what works for me and what doesn’t. Here are some tips on how to make single parenting work for you. Whether you are a mom or dad, they can for you too.
- Ask for Help!
I am a full-time single mom and I don’t get a lot of alone time, and mostly by choice. I use to feel like I had to do it all. That if I couldn’t, then I failed as a parent. Burning yourself out makes you pretty much useless to your child(ren). You are a “single” parent, you cannot do it alone. It is true what they say, it does take a village to raise a child. When help is offered take it! Even when help isn’t offered, ask. You will be thankful for it in the long run. Even if it’s 1 or 2 hours, that’s more hours than you had before. Especially if you have more than one kid like me, TAKE IT!
I am so thankful for my kiddos grandparents and aunts. Once I learned that it was okay to reach out to my family, I felt the weight of the world lift from my chest. Sometimes due to Atlanta traffic (rolls eyes) I run a tad late picking up the kids and I prefer not to be charged a late pick up fee. I usually must ask my mom to pick up the kids for me. Luckily that’s only once a week since I’m working from home majority of the time. I also ask for an hour or two when I need to make a trip to the grocery store or want to attend an afternoon /evening yoga session. You can also ask your mom (grandma) to help with dinner when you’re too burnt out or money is tight.
- Connect with Other (Single) Parents
Connect with people who understand your situation. If you are a newly single parent, then hanging other with non-single parents can be a downer. It will make you resent the crap out of your kid’s other parent and maybe your current situation. Find comfort in new friendships. Talk about your children, talk about something other than your children, or a new hobby that you want to try. Get out and do something that is totally non-parent related. Single parents are one of your biggest supporters and will listen to you vent about anything. They will have proper responses instead of the unhelpful, “Damn that stinks”, because they’ve either been there or are in your shoes. Just remember to not be too negative. Look for the silver lining in your situation. If you get to a point in your life where the past doesn’t sting as much, befriend some non-single parents too.
- Tiny Human Helpers
Okay so I learned this one when I was pregnant with my son Peyton. Taking a trip to the past, in 2014 I was a newly single mom with 2 kids and pregnant. Their father and I had split. I was pretty much parenting on my own Monday through Friday while working a full-time job. Needless to say, I was exhausted and mad. So, I started teaching my little ones to clean up after themselves to make things a little easier on me. Fast forward to the present, my children now are putting up their own toys, straightening up their rooms once play time is over, putting their own dishes in the sink or dishwasher once they’ve completed their meals, and making their beds. My kids also like helping load and unload the laundry.
I cannot stress how important it is to teach our children these basic skills. For one they will benefit from it into adulthood and I’m sure their spouses (if they decide to marry) will thank us too. We already manage so much on our own. If you have older children, show them how to help you with the younger ones. Start with a simple task:
- Putting the toys back in the toy box
- Straightening up their room after play
- Making the bed (doesn’t have to be the neatest we applaud the effort)
- Putting their dish in the sink or dishwasher
- Throwing their own thrash away once they’re done with a snack so you won’t have to clean up juices boxes and an empty bag of Cheetos off the floor.
It may seem like a good idea at the time to get chores done while the baby / kids are down for a nap or spending the day with grandma. NO! You need rest. If you are a full-time single mom like me, I’m talking complete custody of your child(ren), then you need rest. This is so important, because we need time to recharge our mom batteries and be ready for the next wave of tantrums. Wearing yourself down to the brink of exhaustion is never a good thing. Once again take care of your mental and physical health. As a mom who is living with depression I’ve learned to manage things in sections so that I won’t shut down. Get a planner and manage that to-do list in sections. Do not try to get everything done all at once.
- Mommy Time
I usually call this mommy time, but we need to acknowledge that we have single dads here too. Some are trying to figure this out just like us moms. Parent time means taking off your mom gear (you know those yoga pants and sweats you like to wear), get dolled up and go out with your friends, have a girls/guy’s night. See a movie even if it’s by yourself (yes, I do this). Go for a walk or a run. Attend a yoga session once or twice a week, trust me you NEED the meditation. Take yourself shopping, even if you treat yourself to one thing you’ll feel pretty darn good afterwards. Learn to be okay with doing things that are just for you. We will spend our whole lives doing for our children, but we still must take care of our physical and mental health. If we don’t, who will?