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5 Ways to Stress Less as a Single Parent
Raising children is hard. It’s a job that feels daunting even when two people embark on it together — so when there is only one of you, the task can feel even more stressful. Single parents will experience higher stress, pressure, and fatigue. They may find themselves on a perpetual emotional roller coaster of feeling successful and on top of things, to the feeling of guilt of maybe not being good enough and feeling exhausted all the time.
Whether you’re divorced, co-parenting with an ex, unmarried, or a single mom by choice, the fact is once you’re a single parent: life will never be the same again.
So how can you ease the stress, and be a better parent/happier person?
1: Work on having a social life.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. But as a single parent, it is so easy to let everything become more important than you. When you are the only parent, you’re expected to be physically and emotionally present. Then it can become all too easy to become a recluse. You’ll pull inside your shell — which is the perfect place for feelings of loneliness and bitterness to grow. So plan ahead! Plan to have a girls night, or a blind date, or anything to get you out! It’ll be a good time for some adult conversation, and give you something to look forward to!
2: Rely on your support.
Your instinct is probably to prove that you don’t need anyone, that you are just as good as two parents — that you can do it all. Don’t even try! That’s a recipe for burnout. Surround yourself with good people and let them help you! Say yes when someone you trust offers to babysit. Say yes when someone wants to make you guys dinner. You might feel guilty at first – or have difficulty relinquishing control – but after a while, it will feel comforting to know that help is only a phone call away.
3: Remember that your kids are just kids.
When you’re feeling lonely, sad, or emotionally topsy-turvy, it’s very easy to rely on your kids for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But kids don’t have the emotional intelligence to substitute for an adult relationship. If you find yourself venting too frequently or relying on your kids too much — talk to an adult friend or family member. Seek counselling if necessary.
Also, make sure if you have a bad relationship with your child’s other parent, that you don’t place any of your negative emotions towards your child’s other parent on your child. It’s important for the emotional health of your child. If there are surrounding circumstances that make your child’s relationship with their other parent untenable, make sure you put your child’s needs first. Protect them without poisoning them.
4: Stop feeling guilty!
Easier said than done. But dwelling on the things you can’t do or didn’t provide does not help you be a better parent. For your own sanity, focus on the things you did accomplish! If you’re feeling guilty about a divorce or a poor relationship with the child’s other parent, perhaps you should join a support group or talk to a counsellor.
Just remember that you give your child love, encouragement, and all the support you can muster on a daily basis. And that’s a pretty big accomplishment! If you’re ever doubting your accomplishments, try making a list of all the things you’ve done.
Inevitably your kids will begin to have questions. Especially as they get older and see their friends with two active and involved parents. It might sting a little, and no matter how prepared you are, it won’t be easy. But if you practice what answers you want to give, it might go a little smoother. If you become a single parent when your child is a little older, talk to them about their feelings. Dialogue with them through their whole grieving process (no matter how you become a single parent, there will be a grieving process). Another thing to note, children who have the best chance after a divorce have two parents who communicate about co-parenting issues and place the child’s needs above their own desires not to see each other.
In conclusion: to all the single parents out there, thank you! Thank you for not giving up and doing your best. You’re doing better than you think. Being a single parent is certainly challenging, but it is definitely rewarding. Keep showing your child love, support, and respect. Stay honest and stay positive. You’ve got this!
Surviving (and Thriving) as a Single Mom
The Truth About Being a Single Mom
7 Ways Single Moms Cope With Loneliness
Single parent? Tips for raising a child alone