Raising children is not for the faint of heart. Between the tantrums, vomit, hormones and math homework, there’s barely enough time to breath, let alone time to take care of you. When you’re a single parent, things get worse. You no longer have a spouse there to support you when you need time off because there is no time off! So what’s a single parent to do? As someone who has been a single parent and someone who works with single parents, here are my top 5 tips for surviving single parenthood.
1. Find a support system. You will definitely need it. No one can work as many hours as you and not take time off. Grandma and Grandpa want an extra day? Sure! Aunts and Uncles want to take the kids to the waterpark? Definitely! Don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, either. Even if there is a babysitter you have on call, you will need mental breaks once in a while. Use them.
2. Love your time in the car. I don’t mean the time in the car with the kids screaming or singing Let It Go for the umpteenth time. I mean the time after they’re dropped off at school. You know that moment when you miss them terribly as they walk into their school? You notice something is missing, right? That something missing is noise. It’s completely quiet in your car. As a single parent, it’s very hard to find alone time, so this is one of those moments were you need to ignore the cheerios on the floor mats, turn off the radio and give yourself some quiet time. You’ll need to get good at noticing when those quiet moments present themselves. They’re few and far between.
3. Know that you can’t do it alone. Make YouTube a favorite channel. You’ll need it when your daughter decides she wants to learn how to fish and you have no idea what type of line the fishing pole needs, let alone how to tie it up! Just because there’s only one of you doesn’t mean your children can’t learn things you don’t know about. It just means you’ll learn together! This also means you’ll have a long list of people you can ask when your children come up with a different hobby they want to take on.
4. Two-parent households can’t always keep up with all of the chores, so why think you can? Leave the laundry unfolded for 30 minutes and nap! Your body will thank you and your kids will, too. Many single parents feel like they have to overcompensate for there being only one parent there, but that’s not true. Even if you feel that way, you certainly can’t try without getting enough rest.
5. Embrace the extra love. Because you are the single parent, it means you are the sole receiver of the love, hugs, kisses and affection. It means that you don’t have to share this with anyone else in the room. Lean in for extra snuggles and hold onto the hugs a little extra longer. The bond between you and your children is that much stronger because they have you to count on and you should embrace that bond as tightly as you can.
There’s so much more that comes with being a single parent. If there’s any motivation to keep going when things get rough, it’s that your children aren’t just watching you, they’re in awe of you and all you do. They may not always say it, but they definitely feel it.