A guide to single parenting
Parenting is a long journey. Along the way, some parents may find themselves flying solo.
As a single parent, you may have many roles in caring for your kids. But there are ways to get through this solo flight that minimize stress and turbulence for you and your family.
Ask for help
All parents need a network of family and friends to help with the challenges of raising kids. It's especially important for single parents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Try not to expect yourself to handle everything. You can ask your family and friends for help.
If you don't have family nearby, look for a support group for single parents. Other single parents can be wonderful resources for advice. They can also provide emotional support and even trade child care. Your child's doctor may also have helpful information.
Connect with your kids
Single parenting can sometimes come with difficult lifestyle changes. Your income may be reduced, for example. Or maybe you move to a new town. You may feel a sense of loss or sadness. It's OK to be honest with children about how you feel. But it's important to assure them that things will be all right.
Your children will need your support, love and praise to weather new changes. If you keep a positive outlook, they will follow your lead.
One of the best things you can give your kids is your time. In the midst of day-to-day demands, save some time each day to just have fun. Enjoy tossing a ball, reading stories or working on a project together.
Keep up routines
Consistency helps children feel secure, says the AAP. Try to schedule meals, chores and bedtimes at regular times so that they know what to expect.
Consistent discipline is also important. Try to work with your child's other parent to discipline in a consistent way.
Take time to recharge your batteries
As you work to take good care of your family, it can be easy to neglect your own needs. Time spent away from your kids can be good for them and you. It helps you avoid feeling burned out. And it helps your children learn that their community includes other caring adults.
Get a babysitter or ask a trusted adult friend or family member to stay with your kids. Go out to a movie. Have dinner with friends. Or just enjoy some time to yourself.
To ease stress during your busy day-to-day routine, take care of yourself. Exercise regularly, eat right and get enough rest.
Look at the positives
Single parenting can be challenging. But there are some silver linings. Single parents often develop closer bonds with their children, since they are very involved in their care, according to the AAP. And kids in single-parent households may develop more independence and maturity when they've been asked to be more responsible within the family.
Flying solo may or may not have been your original plan. But with hard work and lots of support, you will be able to prepare your children for their own life's journey.