10 Single Parenting Tips
Are you a single parent wondering how to manage? Are you feeling overwhelmed and lost? You are not alone. I have been a single parent for nearly six (6) years.
In June 2011, my husband passed away after a 3-year battle with bowel cancer. He was 44 years old. At that time, our children were five (5), seven (7) and nine (9) years old. As I learn to love him in his absence, I had to ensure my children were well looked after and cared for. We were all adjusting to our new reality and grieving for our loss.
Last year, I reached a new stage in my journey and felt a release of happiness, love, and gratitude that my late husband had been in our lives. I started to think about what it meant to be a single parent and how this role has been one factor in shaping who I am now. This journey has been one of discovery, learning and evolving. It has not been easy, but it has ultimately been rewarding.
Listed below, in no particular order, are some ideas that helped me achieve the happy family life I have today as a single parent.
THE TRANSITION TAKES TIME
It takes time for children to transition after the upheaval. Therefore, planning a holiday, an outing, a favorite activity or a visit with a friend helps them to adjust. It allows for anticipation and excitement. It provides space for all aspects of childhood, such as playfulness, spontaneity, and curiosity, which still need to be fuelled, while addressing the feelings and emotions that change (loss) has evoked.
What values are important to you as a parent? What values do you want to uphold in this new reality? What beliefs shaped you of who you are? Develop self-awareness and assume responsibility for being the main decision maker. You are enough and you have the resources within to embrace and step into this new reality. Accepting this will liberate you.
KNOW YOUR CHILD
As your child grows, neurological changes are taking place. There is a disconnection between the two parts of the brain that govern impulse and judgment. Children can be impulsive and they may not consider the consequences of their behavior until much later. Being aware of this may help you respond to them with compassion and patience.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
The amount of energy required by any parent to keep up with their children is immense. Moreover, being a single parent needs even more. Keeping fit, healthy, and nurturing yourself are important habits to establish. Mindfulness and meditation to center you in times of stress are vital for mental and emotional wellbeing. If you exercise efficiently, you only need ten (10) minutes several times a week. The important tip here is to move and keep active. Identify the snippets of time you have and devote them to exercise; even if it’s a few squats while brushing your teeth.
Family life is collaboration. Clear communication and effective listening are essential. Ideally, you may want to hear your children voice their feelings and emotions without judgment in a safe, supportive environment.
Whom can you rely on when you need a bit of support? Who will be there for you? You need the security of knowing that you can call on your support network when life gets overwhelming, when you need some time out or when you just need someone to listen. Your support network should also include community resources, such as 24-hour medical clinics and home delivery grocery options.
EVERYONE RESPONDS DIFFERENTLY
Everyone responds to grief or the shock of separation differently. It takes time to move on, but move on, you eventually must! A new phase of your life is beginning. When you are ready, ask yourself how dwelling on the past is serving you and how is it serving your children? How would you like to be now? Compassion, understanding of where you are, and acknowledging the vulnerability of where you are in the process is all part of the journey.
Where is the money coming from? Where is it going? Why is it just disappearing? Budget, budget, budget. Know your cash flow. Do you know how much you spend on groceries each month? Do you know how much you spend on utilities, petrol, transport, entertainment? The simplest thing to do is set up a spreadsheet with a record of all expenses. Tally up the total for each month; you may notice your spending habits change and sacrifices need to be made.
How do you manage your time when you have so many claims on it? Do you allocate time and know what you want to achieve each day? Are you spending quality time with your child? The best gift you can give your child is to be one hundred percent (100%) present when you are with them. That is quality time with no distractions. Your focus is entirely on them and interacting with them.
LIFE IS A JOURNEY
Life is a journey that involves lifelong learning. View yourself as a gatherer of knowledge so that you may grow, evolve, and embrace new opportunities. When we grow, we influence our children and create an environment of curiosity and stimulation. We open ourselves up to possibility and reaching our potential.