Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. But when you’re a single parent, all the parenting responsibilities fall upon one person–you. You’re the head cook, nurse and housekeeper. And you’re the chauffeur too. Instead of having a partner to help you out each day, you fly solo. According to Healthychildren.org, “single parents must provide greater support for their children while they themselves may feel alone.” But despite the many challenges single parents face, there are ways to make the job a little less stressful.
Keep a Good Routine
Keep your kids on a good routine. They like to know when it’s time to eat, time to do chores, time to do homework and time to go to bed. If you throw them off their routine, things can get crazy before you know it. Stick to a regular routine so your kiddos know what to expect and feel secure.
Staying organized saves a lot of time and prevents stressful situations. Keep a basket for shoes and boots so you don’t have to hunt for them when you’re trying to get kids out the door to school. Keep backpacks on hooks at the entrance way so your kids aren’t looking for them two minutes before the school bus arrives.
Many of us spend a great deal of time in the car, whether shuttling the kids to school, after school activities or the grocery store. Prevent arguments among the kids by keeping coloring books and crayons in the car so they can stay busy. If you have babies and toddlers, stash extra diapers, pacifiers, bottles and baby wipes in the car too. Kids are always hungry so keep non- perishable snacks in the car for when your five-year-old gets the munchies and you’re stuck in traffic.
Determine which meals your kids enjoy most and incorporate them into your regular meal rotation. Plan your meal menus in advance so you know what you’re going to cook each night. And keep your meal plans with you in the car so when you go to the grocery store, you won’t forget any necessary ingredients.
The night before, do as much meal prep as you can. Wash and cut vegetables, trim meat, prepare any sauces and measure out various ingredients. Then place everything in the fridge so it’s ready to go when it’s time to cook. Don’t have time to cook when you get home? Get a crockpot and cook your meal while you’re at work. You’ll come home to a home-cooked meal and the house will smell yummy, too!
Keep on Top of Your Schedule
Want to avoid going crazy as you try to stay on top of your schedule? Create a family-sized calendar that everyone can see. You can create one using a large magnetic dry-erase board. Post everything on that calendar to help you remember important things like school field trips, library book due dates and when your kid should wear tennis shoes to school for gym class.
Ask for Help
Maybe you don’t have a significant other who can help carry the load, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to family, friends and agencies within the community. Whether you need a babysitter, parenting advice or someone to pick your daughter up from soccer practice, family and close friends can give you a hand. Don’t be shy about asking. According to Spruce.com, people that care about you and your kids will always be willing to help.
Reach out to single parent support groups and nonprofit agencies to provide you with moral support, counseling or information about financial assistance for single parents.
Single parenting is tough, but it’s rewarding, too. And if you follow these basic tips, you may have an easier time juggling life as a single parent. The key is to stay organized, keep your kids on a routine and never be afraid to ask for help.
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