4 Tips Every Single Parent Should Know
It isn’t easy being a single parent. Without a partner to trade off with, it can often seem impossible to keep up with all of the energy growing children have. But navigating the world of the single parent isn’t impossible. In fact, with a little forethought and planning, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.
Consider these four tips for smoother sailing in the seas of single parenthood.
Keep a Consistent Routine
Generally speaking, kids need structure to feel secure. Try to regulate things like a consistent bedtime, mealtimes, chores, and fun. Even if your job keeps you away from your children most of the day, resist the temptation to stay up too late.
“Trying to squeeze in more time together by letting them stay up late is not the best approach,” Leah Klungness, PhD, told WebMD. Klungness is a psychologist in Long Island, N.Y., and co-author of The Complete Single Mother.
“Kids need more sleep than we schedule into our jam-packed lives,” she continued. “Also, parents need and deserve some kid-free time to get things accomplished and decompress a bit.”
Set Aside Time to Play with Your Kids
Playtime is how children learn. Whether they’re learning interpersonal relationship skills with their dolls or developing a passion in engineering with their blocks. It’s important for children to have regular and consistent playtime scheduled.
Furthermore, playing with your kids when they’re young will help them establish a pattern of coming to you when they have problems later in their life, particularly in their teens.
“I often recommend to families that they schedule a play time — perhaps once a week — when they turn off the television and phone and spend a half hour playing a game, taking a walk, or throwing a ball around,” said Barry G. Ginsberg, PhD. He’s a child and family psychologist in Doylestown, Pa., and author of the book 50 Wonderful Ways to Be a Single-Parent Family.
He adds: “It helps reinforce your emotional connection.”
Try to Maintain a Good Relationship with Your Ex
Unfortunately, not every marriage or relationship ends cordially. If you find yourself a single parent because of a separation or divorce. It’s in the best interest of the children to maintain a respectful relationship with their other parent.
It’s critically important that your children aren’t exposed to overly negative comments about their parent, as this can create insecurity or self-esteem issues. Remember, your child is half you, and half them. Whether we like it or not, we can’t simply ignore that other half.
Sometimes, child custody laws dictate how much time a parent spends with their child each month. It’s important not to overstep your legal boundary in this regard, as it could lead to restricted access to your child.
Take Care of Yourself
As a single parent, it can be all too easy to neglect your basic needs—often because raising children without a partner can be such a taxing endeavor. But it’s important to make sure you’re on top of your diet, exercise, and general mental and physical health.
You don’t necessarily need to take a trip to a luxury resort to relax, either. Here’s what Rachel Sarah, author of Single Mom Seeking, a book, and popular blog, has to say on the subject. “I had to pay attention to make sure I was even eating enough. I also learned the importance of getting enough sleep, which meant forgoing a lot of chores. My place was a mess, but I just had to let that go.”
Sarah manages to get her exercise by incorporating it through little changes in her daily routine, such as walking or jogging to the grocery store instead of driving. She’s able to take her children with her in their stroller. But as your children get older, they can always walk or jog with you—kids need exercise, too.