Sometimes it feels like everyone and their dog is breaking up, and according to Hawaii.gov data from the 2010 census, 9.5% of homes in Maui County (average 10% in the USA) are single-parent households. Being a single parent, whether you are male or female, can be extremely isolating, challenging and overwhelming at times. For me, by the time I get done with work, make dinner and get my daughter to bed, I have very little time or energy to do anything else. So I asked a few single parent friends how they do the mono-parenting and have found the answers helpful to make life more manageable:
• Find a friend, therapist or someone to talk to and make it a date. If you can afford one, a therapist has benefits because you can talk about yourself for an hour without the guilt of dropping all of your drama in a friend’s lap. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have mom or a close relative/friend that has the time and patience to hear you, dump away! When you spend so much time with your children, your wants and needs are often put to the side. Try explaining to a 4-year-old why mommy had a bad day dealing with passive aggressive co-workers, and you are not likely to get the heartfelt response you are seeking. However, having this time to vent or shall I say ‘process’ with another adult can be very cathartic.
• Budget – Somehow, someway. Using Mint (the can’t live- without-it way to keep track of your finances app), or following a daily budget can be really helpful. Depending on your financial situation, living on one income can be a real challenge; so the better you are grounded with this, the more stable and less stress in your life. If you are finding that you are struggling financially to make ends meet, this could lead to you spending a lot more time away from your child whether it be picking up more hours at work, or a whole second job. This can mean that you have to try even harder to make the time that you have with your children count.
• Even if it is a short time, putting down the phone and focusing on your children for whatever time you have to give can go a long way for your relationship with them. Sometimes, you don’t even have the liberty of any free time with your children, and if you are like me and coming home just in time to make dinner and start the bed time routine, adding a little bit of wonderment, games and fun to these routines can turn them into quality time with your child.
• If possible, have childcare lined up for your child on occasion. Every parent deserves a little alone time…I know, you’re saying, “what is that?” But, believe me you can actually carve out time for yourself once and a while for the sake of yourself and your children. It is important to your sanity! Who knows you could even go on a date! A good free idea is co-ordinate with other single parent friends and take turns going out.
• Create something in your life that is your own. This can apply to my friends in relationships too. Do something that you love, whether it be paddling, windsurfing, yoga, knitting, exercising, or crafting. This creates a consistent outlet for stress, and if you love it, it should be (somewhat) easy to do frequently!
• Focus on the positives! It is very easy to get hung up on mistakes or bad days, especially when there has been no breaks or down time, but if you can focus your mind on your parenting successes, this can be a game changer!
• Unwind (or wine) at the end of the day and try and get a good night’s rest. Many single parents feel chronically exhausted because of the pressure of so many tasks at once. Burning the midnight oil can lead to feeling overtired, being irritable and even depression, and we don’t have time for that!
• Finally, breathe and forgive yourself for the mistakes you make. You are doing a job that two people generally find challenging!
Image Credit: mauimama