Related article: My Journey as a Single Parent
Single Parenting Is NOT Easy but Rewarding!
Single parenting can be overwhelming and stressful due to the responsibilities of juggling caring for children and keeping up with the bills and household chores. In addition to these basic factors, handling custody agreements can take a significant toll too.
Let’s start with why managing mental health as a parent is essential to navigating single parenting. Your children and your overall well-being are fundamental, above and beyond any kind of parenting or educational strategies that you would like to implement.
As a single parent, you play a huge role in supporting your children’s well-being, and it is essential to note that the mental health of children is closely connected to their parents. Just like many illnesses and diseases, they tend to run in the family and can be passed down from parent to child, not to mention how poor mental health of a parent can affect the everyday lives of children in so many other ways. However, a parent with good mental health helps create a positive relationship between parents and their children, and will also help children to develop the social and emotional skill that they will need to lead a happy and fulfilled life.
How to Navigate Single Parenting?
Don’t Try to do EVERYTHING At Once and All by Yourself!
Reach Out for Help
Do you feel like you are the only person there for your kids in your single parenting schedule? It is time to create a support system to extend your children’s go-to solutions. You do NOT need to be the only person to do everything! Don’t try to do it all at once and by yourself.
Single parenting can be hard because parents often feel like they are drowning in a never-ending to-do-list. If you are feeling totally confused, consumed and disorganized, get some help!
Try to get some outside perspective, sources can be family, friends, therapists, social workers, single parenting groups on social media, parent communities from school, or even meeting with another parent at the playground where your kids spend time releasing energy can be an excellent place to start.
Many people find managing money and budgets difficult, and you might feel worried about money. As a single parent myself, achieving financial stability has always been one of the goals I’ve aimed for!
There are several potential sources that may help. You can contact previous employers to see if they would be willing to rehire you, apply to a government program for single parents, join a local family support center, or seek child support from your child’s other parent. Again, don’t try to do it ALL on your own.
By reaching out to people, you can potentially get practical help to lighten the workload, and emotional and social support to cope with single parenting.
Be Mindful About your Busy-ness
Have you noticed lately when you ask someone how things are going, many will reply, “Good, but OMG, I’m so busy!” Is this a new way of saying, “I’m fine, thank you!”?
If you are constantly thinking, “I’m so busy, I will never be able to get a break as a single parent,” then you are really not getting a break! Your mindset has already put you in a space where you constantly believe you are running behind schedule and absolutely have no time.
According to the author of You are a Badass, in order to gain time, first, you need to show time some respect. If you are always late, blowing things off, or flaky, you are basically sending the message to the universe, and yourself, that through your actions or inaction you are not prepared to appropriately value time. Try to adjust your habit by starting to arrive early, getting your plans together and writing them down, or setting alarms for important events. Creating a good relationship with time is the first step of having a good relationship with time.
Next time, before you say, “I’m so busy! I just can’t find the time to take a break,” take a moment to think about the message you want to deliver and be mindful of what you choose to think/believe.
Prioritization is the first key to productivity
The New York Times’ bestselling book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan talks about how prioritizing the important tasks over the small ones to meet your goals can lift our well-being, strengthen our resilience, and safeguard our mental health. In our busy lives, many people struggle to prioritize tasks and often feel overwhelmed by all the things they have to do. This wellness book gives you a methodology of how to ignore all the things that are unimportant to your well-being, and do only the things that you should do.
Be realistic about your schedule. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew because we think we must do it all. Single parenting is not all about fully occupying 24 hours a day to feel like you are meeting the purpose of being a good parent. It’s all about prioritizing, being efficient, and being productive. Use your time and effort appropriately.
Remember, you are never going to get it all done! Life moves on regardless. So stop stressing about it!
Be yourself and Put Yourself FIRST!
Yes, before everyone and anything else.
Parents are naturally giving, and we always forget to put ourselves first. However, it is important to address that “we” have to be well before everything around us can be in place. It is like a domino effect, and it can have positive and negative consequences.
There are many situations and people who would like to get all your attention every day! If you let them into your life without order and boundaries, they will start to take control of your life away from you.
If you need to time-block personal time (without the kids) on your schedule, block it! Love yourself, and make time for yourself. because you deserve time to recharge!
All you can do is your BEST
Single parents often feel guilty of not providing enough for their kids, and they also feel the need to be there for them all the time.
However, being-there-for-them is different than making-time-for-yourself. 90 minutes of yoga practice without being around children does not make you a bad parent. One night out to dinner with friends does not mean you-are-not-there-for-kids. Period! Believe me, kids want you to be happy like how you want them to be happy too! It doesn’t matter if it is single parenting or dual parenting. It is all about finding the balance that works best for you and the family.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
if you are feeling stressed around someone constantly, it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself and can add up to self-doubt and negativity in your life. By all means, feel free to erase these people from your balanced-life equation.
Pay attention to what kind of people you spend your time with and who require extra effort to be around. Stay away from gossiping, finger-pointing, judgmental, and complaining people. Really! It doesn’t matter how long you have known that person or how many texts you have exchanged with each other, the person may choose to feel constantly disappointed, hurt, and inconvenienced, and this will have an effect on you. Be strong, rise up and confront the situation without feeling regret about moving on!
Letting someone go isn’t a scary thing, and it does not make you a terrible person. You do not need to create a huge drama, indeed, you should be mindful about not getting sucked into the dramas! Remember, you have already decided that you want out, there is no negotiation in the decision and certainly not an open discussion. Simply say that the relationship isn’t working for you, that you don’t feel good and would like to end it.
Don’t get pulled into working through the problems with them, otherwise, you are back to square one! Get out of victim mode, and move on from the toxicity. Give yourself a chance to live in a more peaceful and healthier relationship with yourself;
When you start to attract the kind of people, things that align with who you truly are, you will create new opportunities in your life and set a good example to your kids by showing them how to manage relationships properly throughout their lives. You can spend your time and effort building a meaningful support system for the family rather than letting the negative people pull down your energy level. (So much that you feel tired and drained during parenting time.)
Say a firm “NO” to toxicity, be the highest version of yourself, drop the matter gracefully and move on unapologetically.
Don’t get put off by uncertainty.
Embrace the uncertainty. Even with a perfect plan, something unexpected will always come up. In fact, many happy memories have been created from the uncertainty we’ve experienced. Stay positive, follow the feel-good moments, focus on the good, practice gratitude, listen to your intuition, and believe that you are the writer of your own story! The Universe will lead you through a most excellent life.
Your reality is created by what you focus on and how you choose to interpret it. Single parenting can be challenging, but there are long-term rewards of having emotionally balanced kids are not so obvious! I promise, good things and support are with us if we stay optimistic and focussed on what we should be focusing on. Keep moving forward!
When parents put their mental health front and center to navigate the single parenting life, this attitude will lead them to a better state of mind to deal with everyday challenges and therefore have more energy to put into parenting. As a consequence, single parenting is enjoyable and children are happy.
Related Article: Single parenting stress: 10 signs it might be anxiety.