Having been a single parent for a number of years, I can say with some authority that it’s hard, I mean really hard. But it’s also great. I have a closeness with my kids that I might never have had otherwise. But back to hard… Whether you are a single parent by choice, divorce, or your spouse is in the military on the other side of the planet, it’s a very tough job.
Day-to-day responsibilities are relentless. All decisions are made by you alone, often with nobody with whom to even bounce around ideas. And when the kids get a little older, they become experts at pushing your buttons with style. Here are some tips for dealing with trying times:
- Continue to take good care of yourself, eating as well as you did during pregnancy, drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough rest and physical exercise
- Ask for and accept help from family members and friends. It makes them feel good, too.
- Avoid cabin fever by getting out of the house each day, even if just for a walk.
- Set clear boundaries with relatives and children. Be flexible, but loosey goosey all the time gets confusing and tires you out. You’re the parent, you set the rules.
- Stick to a schedule when you can. Even babies benefit from a regular routine. Eating and sleeping times will change a lot during the first year and adapting to the baby’s schedule will make life easier for you both. Bedtime can be a fun and cuddly time for you both, but when it’s time for the lights to go out, stick to your guns - you’ll both benefit from the sleep and down time.
- Keep up your friendships and outside activities. Get a parent or sitter to watch the baby one night a week, or take the baby with you to a friend’s house for dinner or meet for lunch.
- Carve out a little time each day just for you, even if it’s just ten minutes. Read a book, find a quiet place to listen to your favorite music or relax in a bubble bath by candle light. Ahhhhhhh.
- Accept a little clutter. For those of us who are neatniks, this may take some practice. But the fact of the matter is getting enough rest and spending quality time with your children is more important than a spotless home right now.
- Talk about your feelings (including sadness, frustration and anger) with someone you trust. You can join a local or on-line support group for parents, too.
- Make friends with other parents (did you keep in touch with the women you met in your childbirth education classes?).
What other suggestions do you have?