Becoming a single parent is not always a straightforward choice, whether it resulted from divorce, the death of a spouse or through other circumstances. Being a single-parent is never an easy task.
We spoke to a number of single parents and ask them to share some of their bible-rules that have kept them afloat and thriving as a single parent. (Yes! They all are!)
1. Find a support network
Being parents is never a walk in the park and it is more challenging when you are a single parent. One of the most important things we need to do almost immediately is to establish a support network.
Include our family, allow them to help and extend their assistance to us. It is also important to have some close friends that we can entrust our child with in the event of an emergency.
Never be ashamed to receive help from others or to let them know when we need a hand. It is not a sign a weakness when we call them for help.
Support systems can also come from a community group, such as other parents from school that can help share plans and tasks.
2. A Positive Mind
Ultimately we have to keep our heads on our shoulders as there will be times when we think that everything is falling apart. The world can look like a dysfunctional place. Remember that staying positive is vital.
Yoga works to keep balance and perspective, and helps realign thoughts. Another plus is that it helps us stay healthy, not only physically but also emotionally.
We just need to know how to find our zen, whether it is through yoga, eating more healthily or doing any other sport. Whatever it is, keeping a positive mind is the ultimate fuel that will keep the ship running.
Discipline is key when steering the ship on our own. It takes a lot of will power to start and, of course, to persevere.
Timekeeping has proven to be the hardest thing to do for single parents, especially if we have more than one child and/or they are at a young age.
However, if we can be disciplined and keep the daily routine and goal-oriented tasks going, it will save us a lot of unnecessary wild-goose-chasing in the process.
4. Keep Calm if some things don’t go as planned.
There will be times when nothing is going as planned. There will be bad days and there will be some completely messy days. The best thing to do when this happens is to take step back and remind ourselves to stay calm.
Reorganise tasks and re-prioritise. Some things will be beyond our control – we just need keep our perspective straight and realign our goal.
5. Take care of yourself, first.
When we think that everything is bouncing out of control, pause! Stop everything you’re doing. It is okay to leave our child with a trusted family member or friend while we pick ourselves up.
Go for a walk, treat yourself, take half a day off from everything, even caring for your child. Find your balance.
We will not be of much help when we are a wreck, so always make sure we are fit enough physically and emotionally before taking a lot on our plate, caring for one too many things.
6. Task sharing at home, with your child.
There is a saying: “It takes a village to raise a child”. That is no laughing matter. Raising our child alone can be quite an intimidating task so it is appropriate for us to share our tasks and chores.
Assign them enough tasks so they can take part, after all they too are living in the house.
Try task-sharing according to their age. For example: Let them help set the table for dinner when they are 4 years old; they can sweep the floor of their room on Saturday when they are 5; have them wash their own plates after meals when they are 6 years old.
7. Communicate with your child
No matter what the reason is for becoming a single parent, there is no easy way to explain the situation to our child.
However, as they grow older, anticipate that they will want to know.
Allow them to know and understand – communicate and share with them what they would like to know.
Never attempt to brush their questions aside or pretend nothing happened. Sharing with them will help shape their mind and answer their natural curiosity, which is a lot better than having them assume everything for the worse.
8. Include your child
Never think their opinion is insignificant. Allow yourself to listen to their feedback, from the smallest decisions (why they like basketball instead of Taekwondo), to making some major ones, such as when we plan to move house.
Allow them to be a part of our decision-making process, to promote independence and problem solving skills.
Eventually if we do start seeing someone, always be honest and include them. Make their opinions matter because at the end of the day, we are all in this together.