Single Parent Survival
● By Hood Magazine
By Ally Vogel, Local Mom, ‘Hood Magazine Designer
Every working parent
experiences the struggle of juggling work and home life. As a single parent,
the expectation to successfully manage all the needs of the family can
sometimes be overwhelming and all-consuming. It is important to be intentional
about defining a “new normal” for the family after a divorce or loss of a
spouse in order to establish new roles and responsibilities. To survive the challenges and celebrate the
joys of raising children alone:
Take care of yourself. It’s easy to focus your attention on work demands and the calendar full of kids’ activities and events, but don’t forget to schedule in time for yourself. It can be an early morning workout, a half-hour with a good book, a monthly massage, or a mid-day drive with your favorite CD. Allow yourself to press the pause button on the demands around you in order to recharge and better manage stress.
Ask for help. There will be times when you find yourself double-booked and juggling too many responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to meet those commitments. Establish a network of friends, family, and neighbors that are available to help drive the kids to practices or provide meals from time to time. If keeping the house clean is last on your list, hire a cleaning company once or twice a month to handle the deep cleaning. You can also assign household jobs that are age-appropriate to your children. If you stress the importance of their role in the family, they will begin to take pride in their work.
Play nice. It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with your ex. Find an avenue of communication that works and minimizes the potential for blow-ups. When hashing out sensitive matters and holiday schedules, email and texting can be effective. It’s helpful to have written documentation of the exchange and it allows each parent to take a breath before responding. Be cautious of the tone in your communication. If you receive an email that is upsetting, take a break and walk away from it until the next morning.
Get creative with childcare. Lean on neighbors and friends who have children and childcare needs similar to yours. It’s great to have someone close to home that can care of your kids in a pinch. Talk with your circle about swapping time to save on your budget. This can be informal and isolated events or even scheduled time blocks that you take turns caring for the whole group. Your children will enjoy and look forward to these play dates and as parents you will treasure the break and quiet time.
Plan ahead. Find an effective tool to use to manage everyone’s schedule. Whether you use a planner, a whiteboard, or a calendar app, be diligent about using it. If all of your commitments are merged into one location, it will be easier to spot schedule conflicts and plan for adjustments. If the children do spend time with their other parent, it’s important to have that time scheduled and visible so they can plan for it. Proper planning and an open dialogue about daily schedules helps all members of the family stay on track, feel confident, and be less likely to miss events.
Have fun. Raising children is the best job in the world! Don’t get lost in all of the busyness and forget to cut loose and enjoy your life. Have a family picnic on the living room floor with pizza and your favorite movie. Take in the free concert at the park or let the kids explore at a local museum or zoo. Use resources like the ‘Hood Magazine Calendar of Events to find family-friendly adventures to fit any budget. Your journey may be different now that what you imagined, but it’s still meant to be enjoyed. Breathe. Live. Love. You can do it!