No matter what your parenting situation, parenting brings challenges and rewards. As a single parent, there are rewards and often extra stressors. As single parents you may have:
- Sole responsibility for all of your child’s daily physical and emotional needs.
- Difficulty in getting breaks to take care of your own needs.
- A single income that can add financial stress.
- Challenges juggling work time with child-care and/or time with your child.
Single parenting can also be wonderful as you develop a close and loving tie with your child. There can be advantages in not having to negotiate about parenting styles. And, there are ways to deal with the stress and challenges.
Parenting Methods Important for Single Parents
Much of what’s important for most parents is important for single parents. Sometimes, these parenting methods are even more important for single parents.
Dinner at 5, bath, story and lights out at 7:30. Whatever your routines, your child can feel comforted by knowing expectations. It can also help create a calm atmosphere and provide opportunities for you to get needed breaks.
Even very young children need limits. Limits can make your child feel safe and give them freedom to explore within secure boundaries. As a single parent, setting limits can help you avoid spending too much of your time explaining and re-explaining rules to your child.
As a single parent you are the one always saying one story or no sweets now. Whatever you say, be consistent and follow through. Your child will form needed habits and you can avoid disappointment and confusion. Explaining to your child why yesterday there were three bedtime stories, but tonight only one, can take away quality time with your child.
When you are responsible for all of your child’s discipline and logistics, it can be hard to find time to play together. Take even five minutes to look at the clouds together or let your toddler chase you around the table.
5. Small Stuff
- If you have space, get multiple boxes of diapers or other items so there are less trips to the store.
- Making soup? Double the recipe and freeze some for another day.
6. Don’t Sweat It
Laundry and dishes don’t have to be put away immediately. Your child is the age she is for a very short time. Embrace opportunities for positive interaction over chores sometimes. Let the laundry sit in the basket for a while.
Caring for Yourself When Parenting By Yourself
As a single parent it may be hard to get a break, but they are not only important for you, but also for your child. Taking care of yourself means you’ll be a more effective parent and a great role model for self-care.
Remember the basics — good food, sleep and exercise. You don’t need a gourmet meal or gym membership:
- Park at the back of the supermarket parking lot to get in some walking.
- Get your child to bed at a consistent time so you get down time and still have time to get enough hours of sleep. This is another benefit of consistent routines!
- Get pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables, shredded cheese, etc.
Help! I Need Somebody!
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent and single parents can’t be two parents! So, don’t feel guilty asking for or receiving help. Everyone needs help. Getting some will help you be a better parent.
- Child care:
- Have a trusted family member, friend or neighbor provide some child care. Even 30 minutes can allow a needed walk around the block or a quick child-free trip to the store.
- Some communities have baby sitting co-ops. Is there one in your neighborhood? If not, perhaps start one!
- Do you and your neighbor go to the same grocery? Make an arrangement to send a quick text if one of you is heading out. Eliminate the need for a trip just for a loaf of bread.
When you build community, you help your child see the diversity of ways people can be. It builds compassion and empathy and provides your family with support.
- Adult role models:
As a single parent, you may particularly want to develop other strong adult role models for your child. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, co-workers and others may be thrilled to be part of your child’s life.
- Join a group. There are lots of places to meet parents – single parents and families of all kinds.
- The Eugene Library and Springfield Library have weekly storytime for children 0 – 6, as well as music time, bilingual and sensory story times.
- LaneKids calendar has listings for county-wide kids events.
- Hang out at a playground, Amazon pool or other park to make connections .
- Social Media: The web, Facebook, Twitter and other social media has support for single parents. A few minutes reading tweets from other single parents can help with isolation.
- Parenting Groups: Join a parenting group at Parenting Now! or enroll in the Triple P Online program.
Single But Not Alone
Embrace the rewards of being a single parent and find ways to deal with the stressors. Set limits and routines to create a calmer daily life. Spend time playing. Take care of yourself and get support from others. You’ll not only lessen the stress, but both your child and you will thrive.
Urgent or emergency type situations come up for every parent. If you are a single parent, develop a list of a few people you can call if an urgent situation arises. Run out of your child’s medicine at 11PM when your toddler is running a fever? Arrange in advance people you can call on to go to the night pharmacy or for other urgent situations.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors, Tova Stabin, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Are you interested in receiving more parenting advice? Triple P Online – Positive Parenting Program could be for you! This online parenting program allows you to take a parenting class in the comfort of your own home, at a coffee shop, or wherever you’d like!
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