Parents raising children solo rarely have it easy, and they go through more than we may give credit for. And with the increasing demands on children these days, these stresses manifest squarely on the shoulders of the single mum or dad.
Juggling the decisions and tasks of what would ordinarily be the job of two people has a major impact on parents who are still trying to live their own lives. But in order for you to be prepared for anything and everything, it’s important to remember that you need care and affection too.
Whether you’re a newly single parent or have been one for a while, it’s worth keeping some tips in mind which can help you on the path to raising happy and fulfilled children.
If you’re doing it alone, read on for 5 tips that will help you on your parenting journey.
#1 – Create a routine
It goes without saying that children need routines, but this is especially true if you have the task of raising them on your own. A routine will not only make your kid’s lives simpler, it’ll streamline your life as well.
Allowing your children to know what to expect – and when to expect it, lessens stress and disappointment all round. While an overly rigid structure won’t work for everybody, a basic routine which directs the flow of the day (and the week) will definitely reduce chaos.
Setting specific times for bed, dinner, baths, helps your child feel a sense of security while locking in some all important time for yourself.
#2 – Be prepared for emergencies
It’s easier said than done, but as a parent you will want to be ready for anything! Whether it be a simple accident requiring a first aid kit and some band aids, or a more serious situation that requires outside medical attention, try not to be caught on the hop.
Remaining calm is the first step to handling any kind of accident, as tough as that may be. Keeping calm in the face of a problem will reinforce to your children that all will be O.K (even if you’re dying on the inside!).
Being prepared also means being ready for possibilities that seem somewhat unlikely at first. For example, it could mean having good health insurance in the event your child breaks a bone or needs orthodontics. These days there are specific plans dedicated to single parents which are designed to fit your lifestyle and your circumstances. These plans are priced especially for those on a single income, which makes coverage considerably more accessible.
#3 – Show and teach gratitude
Gratitude is more than an attitude, it’s an important trait to have. And if you are in the habit of showing gratitude, your child will replicate your actions. By showing them how to be thankful for what they have, you will hopefully reduce the tendency to compare their lives with others. Guiding children away from making comparisons is crucial for their happiness and outlook in general! The best way to start is by showing them how you appreciate the things in your own life.
Finding gratitude within ALL aspects of life is possible, and the benefits are enormous. But it can be just as easy to think about what’s missing, and this of course makes it difficult to express gratitude in any form.
When raising children, it’s important to balance gratitude with the need for a sense of reality as well. In the best way you can, encourage your children to understand what kind of life they live, as well as the possibility for shaping their own lives as they grow older.
#4 – Be attentive and loving
Juggling the demands of parenting, work, the household, and family/social demands makes many solo parents exceedingly busy. Sadly, in the face of these demands it can be too easy to neglect your child or forget to express the love and praise you ordinarily would.
Organising distraction-free one-on-one time will help clear your headspace and make expressing your love and devotion a lot easier. Make use of time spent driving in the car or doing chores if it’s hard to find time to connect elsewhere in the week.
When it comes to growth and change in older children, try to notice the big and small things, while providing positive reinforcement as often as possible.
#5 – Remember to take care of yourself
Last but not least, you have to care for yourself before you can care for someone else. It’s very easy for single parents to get so wrapped up in everything for their kids that they forget about themselves. Self-care is crucial to be able to function as a normal human being, so find ways to enable this as much as you can.
Simple things such as a meal out with a girlfriend or a trip to the nail salon can be the refreshing change you need. For many people, time alone is an important part of self care. Pamper yourself with a luxury spa day or sit down in front of a new series with a nice glass of wine. Try not to feel guilty for being away from them, either, because you’ll be back in the hot seat right before you know it!