Whether or not being a single parent was part of your life plan, you may experience some challenges. Managing your family's daily responsibilities or decision-making on your own can mean added pressure and stress. That's why it's important to know how to support not only your children but also yourself. Here are 10 tips that can help.
1. Get a handle on finances.
Learn how to budget your money, and keep track of your income and bills. If you need a job, contact employment and temporary agencies for help. If you need more education, consider getting your high school diploma, a college degree or other special training.
2. Talk with your kids early and often.
Let your children know about the changes in the family. Sit quietly with your children and allow them to talk about their feelings.
3. Find and accept support.
Don't try to handle everything by yourself. You will need the support that family and friends can give. Get to know other single parents through support groups. Your child's pediatrician can also be a great source of help and information.
4. Take time for family.
Set aside some time each day to spend with your children. Some ideas include reading a bedtime story or eating a meal together with cell phones turned off. Your time is one of the most important things you can give to your children.
5. Take time for yourself.
Time spent away from your children is important for you and for them. Find someone to care for your children while you enjoy some time alone or with friends. Do things that you like. It's also important to take care of your health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and get enough rest so you can better deal with stress. Visit your own doctor regularly.
6. Keep a daily routine.
Schedule meals, chores, and bedtimes at regular times so that your children know what to expect each day. A routine will help them feel more secure and help you manage multiple tasks.
7. Maintain consistent discipline.
Parents should work together to discipline their children similarly. Check your local library for parenting books. Local hospitals, the YMCA, and places of worship may sponsor parenting classes. Learning positive ways to handle your children's behavior will reduce stress for everyone.
8. Treat kids like kids.
Although being a single parent can get lonely, try not to treat your children like substitutes for a partner. Avoid the temptation to rely on them for comfort or sympathy, and never complain to them about your co-parent.
9. Stay positive.
Be aware that your children will always be affected by your mood and attitude. They will need your praise and your love through hard times. It's okay to be honest about your feelings of sadness and loss, but let them know better times lie ahead for all of you.
10. Find quality child care.
Choosing quality child care is essential for your children's well-being and your peace of mind. Never leave a young child home alone, and don't rely on older siblings to babysit for younger siblings. Also be careful about asking new friends or partners to watch your children, even for a short time. They may not have the patience, especially if a child's behavior becomes difficult.
Children need to be cared for by an adult with proven experience in child care. When looking for quality child care, do your research. This may include visiting the child care center and observing child caregivers when they are with your children. Ask for referrals from your child's doctor and other parents. Check whether your local city or county government may also have a list of licensed child care centers or homes.