Reality check: being a single parent is never going to be easy. Unless someone invents a way to pause time, single parenting will continue to stretch even the best among us. If you’re a single parent, then you already know this. You also already know that it’s rewarding enough to offset the copious challenges that come your way on a daily basis. Still, it’s always nice to make you and your kids’ lives run a bit smoother. Here are some tips.
Routine is everything
It’s ok to be spontaneous sometimes – in fact, it’s one of the fun parts of being a parent. Routine, however, is the key to successful single parenting. Having a routine doesn’t just mean doing the same things at the same time everyday – though this is important (waking up, meals, playtime, homework, bedtime). Routine is all about having consistency in all aspects of your parenting.
The CDC notes that it’s vital for you to respond to your child’s behavior in the same way each time. You can’t praise one thing one day and punish the same behavior the next. You should make house rules and stick to them. Not only will this improve your child’s behavior but it will help them to better trust you as a parent. If kids are told that something is wrong from the outset, they will be less likely to be angry with you when you must use discipline when they act up.
Keep your home clean and organized
This tip is good for anyone, but it takes on a special importance for single parents. Clutter creates chaos, and chaos is the enemy of order and routine. Plus, if you don’t have to spend a ton of time cleaning every day because you are already well-organized, that means you have much more time to spend interacting positively with your children. Most home organization is pretty easy, as long as you keep up with it.
Rely on other influential adults for help
One of the main challenges of single parenting is trying to be everything all at once – mother, father, friend, disciplinarian, etc. The simple fact is that you cannot be everything all the time. That’s why you must rely on other adults you trust to give your child proper guidance.
“Knowing that there are other adults who value them and care about their well-being can be a powerful force in helping them to develop positive self-esteem,” notes The Spruce.
Focus on yourself sometimes
Another great challenge is balancing a busy schedule. No matter how hard you try, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want as a parent. What usually gets squeezed out when we’re busy is personal time. You may feel guilty about taking time to focus on you, but you must do it. You cannot be an effective parent if you are constantly drained – physically and emotionally. Recharge your batteries.
Remember this golden rule: kids are kids
Your child is not your confidant. They are not there to help you vent. They are not there to solve your adult problems. Kids are kids, and you must remember that at all times. You can’t expect them to be able to handle adult problems. You must be patient when they act up and disappoint you – because they sometimes will. It’s not a reflection on your parenting. It’s not a failure. It’s just kids being kids.
As a single parent, your job is twice as hard as the already-toughest job in the world. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be perfect. You can, however, make things a little easier by creating and sticking to a routine, keeping a comfortable home life, giving yourself some recharge time, and being patient.