Single parents may be born out of many reasons – separation, death or sometimes, just out of whim. Each situation brings with itself a unique set of hurdles and complications, which may sometimes bring to you on the verge of losing it. Nevertheless, irrespective of what the situation may be, or what the scenarios may be like, single parenting by itself brings a truckload of responsibility, workload and pressures, which can take a toll on anyone. Especially, as parenting has been seen usually as two – person job. Despite all the odds, one would still like to have a deep, loving relationship with their kids. And truth be told, there is no magic formula to it.
While we do have icons to look up to, as far as it is concerned, like Susmita Sen, Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp or Ricky Martin, one also does realize that they have more help than the common man can afford. But eventually, they’re single parents and managing to raise children who are hopefully healthy and happy. And so can you. We bring to you top ten tips for single parents to make parenthood an easier and better experience.
10. Set limits right
This might come off as a challenge at first, because it is often seen that parents find themselves fighting to win children’s favour in such a setting. Our advice is that you should not be driven by just that. Set reasonable limits for them, in a way that they understand what’s good for them and what isn’t, with due reference to the television shows they’re allowed to watch, the video games that are appropriate for them, what their playtime should exactly be etc. In a scenario where kids are switching homes between the two parents, this kind of monitoring becomes all the more important and all the more difficult; and at the same time also calls for due interaction between the parents, as far as the children are concerned.
9. Lean on others when you have to
Single parenting can come off as a huge challenge, for it brings double the responsibility for one person – while time might never seem enough. What’s important here is – one, to let go when it does not seem to be working; and two, to lean on others for help, when you have to. Share responsibility, when you can. Carpool with the neighbor when the kids need to be dropped off to their Karate class. Have a friend babysit them when you have to be away for work till late. What’s more important here is that you also have an outlet to your feelings, so make sure you have someone to talk to. It could be a parent, a friend or a trusted colleague.
8. Don’t feel guilty
A lot of single parents have been known to go on extended guilt-trips when they are unable to give their children as much time as they would like to, or when they start dating, and sometimes for just being single. At no point in time should you let that happen to yourself. Raise your children to be understanding. Elevate them to a level that they can be your confidants. Talk to them about why you decided one thing over another. All you have to keep in mind, in such situations is ensuring that such conversations are age appropriate and that they don’t go on to weigh on the children’s minds.
7. Take care of yourself
While doing all the work by yourself may seem like the only option sometimes, make sure it doesn’t take a toll on you. In a bid to raise a family, don’t forget that you have needs too. It’s okay to go partying sometimes. It’s okay to take it easy, occasionally. It is in fact, important to do all of this, because you are only as strong as your weakest moment. So, for your sake.
Ensure that your children are bound by a routine and that they know their boundaries. Enforce them, because they need them, and not in a way that makes it seem as if they hurt you. Also, realize that you need to be firm when it comes to all this. Firm, but not harsh or hurtful. Let them know that there will be repercussions if the boundaries are crossed and be sure to address such matters. At the same time, make sure you balance it out, by sometimes treating them to a day off school or a movie during a working week for a break, so that at no point in time does it become an iron–fisted Hitlerian regime.
Take time off to just talk to your kids. Address whatever’s concerning them. Satiate their curiosities. Ask them about their school and friends; tell them about your workplace and colleagues. Help them with their homework. Take them out for a drive or a picnic in the park. Share anecdotes from your childhood. All this will go on to do a world of good to you and your family, for, it will connect you with each other at a much deeper level. Also, such conversations will make the environment of your home more enabling, not just for yourself, but for the kids as well.
4. Build on love
It is essential that the children know and understand that they’re loved and treasured. Every time you reprimand them for something, it should bring home this realization too, that it came from a good place. Try to give them something to look forward to everyday, for example, bedtime story time or playtime together or something on similar lines. They’ll treasure it!
Being a single parent means handling all your finances and investments singly and independently. You must recognize that at, at least this particular point in time, you are by yourself, when it comes to saving up for a rainy day (like unexpected hospital expenses, repair and maintenance etc.) and future needs (like education expenses, housing etc.). Make sure you save and invest sufficiently and wisely. Don’t shy away from asking for help. Consult bankers and investment gurus for professional help. Also take in suggestions from your contemporaries for a better, more realistic idea.
2. You time
A little indulgence never hurt, and it never will. Don’t get weighed down by the responsibility that you forget about yourself in the bid. Take time out for a quiet walk in the park or a little bit of reading, if not anything hugely indulgent. Parenting children can be stressful, and especially so when one person is doing it all by themselves. Be sure to give yourself some time to gather your thoughts and de-stress. Not doing so will reflect poorly on your work and family life, which we’re sure, is something you wouldn’t like, should it happen
1. On dating
There may come a point in time when you don’t want to be by yourself anymore, and would want to look for a probable mate. At such a point, you need to ensure, that you have this matter discussed with your children, and that it is something they’re comfortable with and understand. Also, you need to keep in mind that at no point in time should they feel that they’re competing with someone else for your attention and affection. You’ll have to work double the harder in making your kids feel secure, should you decide to date. So as not to let this happen make sure you communicate enough with them about it.
A little effort on your part in ensuring small things like having your meals together and making time for the family will pay off in the long run. The whole idea is to make your singlehood a superpower and not a snag. So, follow our tips, and you’ll be good to go!