Single parenting comes with a unique set of emotional challenges that can, at times, feel overwhelming. And trust me, you are not alone! Countless other parents struggle with the exact same issues – from self-doubt and anxiety over money to the stress of making decisions alone – and they’ve come up with some creative solutions that may work for you too.
Challenge 1: Having no one to tag in
Being a parent 24/7 means that there is no one to pass the baton to when you are having a bad day. That is why it is important to take a few moments to yourself, breathe, and try your best to press your reset button. I like to read a book or watch an episode of my favorite TV show while my kids are sleeping. This is what helps me ‘reset’.
Challenge 2: Self-doubt
It’s so hard to know if you’re doing a good job, especially when you are having co-parenting issues or are in the middle of a divorce. Try to surround yourself with other parents with kids the same age as yours. Join a community of parents in your community. I joined one called ‘Parents at the Park’ and we meet once a week with our kids at a local park. The parents chat and decompress as the kids play on the playground. The parents get much-needed parent time and the kids get to play (and typically fall asleep on the way home). Now that is a win-win!
Challenge 3: Making decisions alone
I used to get extremely stressed about making all the decisions on my own. What kind of school should I enroll my kids in? Who can I trust to babysit? What kind of laundry detergent is safe for my kids with allergies? Am I being too strict? How do I know what is the best decision? I’ve learned to trust my instinct and develop confidence in my decision making. It’s not easy but being forced to make these decisions on my own has given me a new sense of independence and trust. I get to decide what is best for my kids and no one else is telling me to do it differently. If I want to take my kids to the zoo… I take them to the zoo! How amazing is that?
Challenge 4: Missing the kids when they’re with their other parent
I get lonely when my kids are with their other parent and miss them so much it almost hurts. The hardest part has been getting used to being without the kids on the weekends or holidays they are with their dad. The first time my kids went to their dad’s for a whole weekend, it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. I honestly didn’t know how to spend the weekend because all I could think about was how much I missed having them with me. In order to stop feeling so empty inside, I plan out the times when they are with their dad. I schedule time with friends, movie nights, bowling, dinner, and whatever else I have been wanting to do. It really helps to get out of the house. I keep a running list of things I’d like to do on my refrigerator, then, when the kids are with their dad, I start checking off the items on my list. It makes me feel accomplished, keeps me from being lonely without my kids, and helps hit my reset button so I’m better when I have the kids with me.
Challenge 5: Stress and anxiety about money
This is a constant struggle for me. I want to give my kids the world but I just can’t afford that. Kids are expensive. This would make me feel really sad because I couldn’t give my kids what I thought they deserved. I had to change my thinking. I would tell myself that I give my kids one of the most memorable things that can’t be bought… TIME! I spend lots of time with my kids doing free or low-cost activities and we laugh constantly. I schedule special adventures to the park, play dates, and (my kids favorite) camping night in the living room where we build a giant tent made out of sheets and watch movies.
Whatever challenges you are facing, I hope these tips can help you. After all, we have to maintain our sanity, right?