Like all working parents, single parents must juggle many family and work responsibilities. The difference is, they do it alone. Here are some strategies to help parents who are juggling their family obligations single-handedly.
Recognize the Benefits
Raising children on your own may be incredibly trying, but there are ways to see your situation in a more positive light. As a single parent, you’ll be challenged to develop your strengths to their fullest potential. By necessity, many single parents learn to be stronger, more resourceful and adaptable than they ever thought possible.
Children in single-parent families also have special opportunities to develop independence and confidence. For example, if your children travel to another city to visit an absent parent, they’ll become acquainted with a wider variety of other adults and children than they would if they lived in only one location. They’ll also have the opportunity to discover new sights and expand their horizons.
Build Your Support Network
Neighbors, friends, relatives and other parents are the keys to surviving the stress of being solely responsible for your children. Your support network can give you feedback about how you’re doing as a parent and help you put things into perspective.
Investigate community and church groups or local classes on parenting. But don’t limit yourself to other single parents or you’ll miss the outlooks offered by dual-parent families and older adults. Developing networks takes time and energy. But the relationships you’ll form will add richness to your life and help you cope with your responsibilities.
Organize Your Time
Single parents must operate on a higher level of organization than dual-parent families. You can simplify your life when you streamline systems for doing laundry, shopping, preparing meals and cleanup. Teach your children how to do simple jobs around the house. Hire someone to help with the yard and cleaning if your budget allows it.
Plan for the Future
When you do everything by yourself, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with daily responsibilities and to forget the big picture. Take time to dream and plan for the future. Do you want to take your kids on a vacation to another part of the country? Would you like to go back to school someday to learn a new skill? Take your dreams seriously by putting them in writing. Then plan how you can make your goals a reality.
Investigate Financial Counseling
Many single parents feel the burden of heavy financial pressures. It pays to examine your financial status with the help of a counselor and establish a realistic budget and financial plan for your family.
Take Care of Yourself
Make sure there’s someone whose ear you can bend when you need to talk about your emotional concerns. Confide in a best friend or join a support group for single parents. Let yourself have fun without the kids. Trade baby-sitting with other single parents to get an evening out or a weekend away. Single parents may feel they “owe” all their nonworking hours to their children, but they’ll be better parents if they take breaks.
If you or your family are experiencing emotional or other problems, please call EAN to make an appointment with one of our licensed professionals. All interviews are kept strictly confidential.