No one ever expects to raise their kids alone, but for some, life has other plans. Being a successful single parent may seem daunting, but there are ways to navigate the challenges and find fulfillment in the journey.
Often, a death in the family leads to a parent having to raise their children alone. Your feelings of helplessness, sadness, and even fear are understandable if you’re a single parent due to a breakup (such as divorce or a death in the family). The truth is that these sentiments are common and should not be hidden. You’ve already proven that you’ve got what it takes to be a fantastic parent just by caring about providing a good upbringing for your kids.
Having to raise a child by myself was something I never foresaw happening to me. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to start a family. Nonetheless, after I met my wonderful husband, we both knew we wanted to start a family. When our babies were born, we were overjoyed. I didn’t give much thought to one of my life’s greatest challenges, single parenthood, until recently.
When I became a parent, I became a single parent overnight. My 36-year-old, robustly healthy, and physically fit husband had a heart attack in October 2017. My husband passed away despite my best efforts and those of the emergency medical personnel who tried to bring him back to life. I was a widow with two small children when I left the hospital the morning after my husband died.
My kids were only two and five years old. It was unthinkable that I would have to face the rest of my life without my husband. The prospect of being a single parent to two children was terrifying. Although it was difficult, I knew I had to give it my all.
Maybe you’re a widow like me who’s also raising a kid on her own. You may have gone through a divorce and are now a single parent. Possibly you decided to separate from an abusive partner. You may have decided to raise your kids on your own. Regardless of how you found yourself in the position of a single parent, know that you are supported. As a single parent, you may find the following five suggestions useful.
1. Take care of your own feelings and teach them to do the same.
Grief is difficult to deal with on its own, and adding the challenge of figuring out how to raise children on one’s own can be overwhelming. Find ways to take care of your own and your child’s emotions. Emotions can be processed healthily through counseling, group therapy, journaling, or even just having open conversations with your children.
Taking care of yourself will be especially important because your children will be looking to you as a role model during this time, especially as it relates to dealing with their own feelings of loss and anger. Remember that your kids probably feel the same things you are if you are sad, lonely, scared, or angry.
Spend some of your time healing and caring for yourself. This will establish a precedent for how your kids handle their emotions. When talking to your kids, it’s OK to let them know if you’re going through a tough time, but reassure them that you’ll get through it. They will seek solace and support from you.
2. Take an interest in and make time for your children.
No matter how hectic your schedule may be, prioritizing time with your children is essential. You might be the only (or primary) adult figure your children look up to. The most crucial thing you can do as a single parent is to forge a close bond with your child. You need to put in the time and effort to build a strong bond with them that will benefit them greatly, especially as they get older.
Spend time doing things that both of you enjoy. Many enjoyable activities can be done at home, such as reading, playing games, and enlisting children’s help in preparing meals. Enjoy a weekend “field trip” to the park or ice cream parlor. In fact, you could save up for a little getaway and have some fun together. Taking a step back from the demands of daily life can help families rediscover each other and regain their footing.
Be sure to ask how your children are feeling emotionally every once in a while. Talk to your kid about how he or she is feeling and how the day went when you have a moment of peace, like right before bed. It’s important to show concern for others’ worries by actively listening to them and responding accordingly. If she needs to cry, hold her and let her. Show your kids that you care about them even if you have a lot going on.
3. Develop schedules and limits.
Creating routines, such as set meal and bedtimes, is crucial to maintaining harmony and productivity as a sole provider. This also aids in setting reasonable expectations for your children. Having your kids pitch in to help out around the house is also a great idea. Kids as young as three or four can help out with light housework. I made it a habit to have my kids put away their toys every night. I instilled in them the habit of putting away their toys at the end of each day long before they could read. A bin in my closet would serve as “mommy jail” for any toys or books that were not returned.
You should lay out the ground rules for your home and the consequences for breaking them. My children’s interest in tablets has grown as they have matured. Although I try to limit their exposure to screens, I recognize that positive behavior should be rewarded with screen time. Each of them has new daily chores and responsibilities that I have given them now that they are older. They risk losing their screen time privileges for the day if they disobey household rules or don’t get their chores done. Despite the pleading and sobbing, I always follow through with this consequence. We have found it to be extremely useful.
Putting oneself first is not egotistical. As a single parent, self-care is crucial. Taking care of yourself may seem like a luxury and a waste of time when you’re responsible for raising a family, but every parent should make time for this.
Simple self-care measures include things like taking a long bath after the kids go to sleep, ordering takeout instead of cooking, or hiring a babysitter so you can go to the movies with a friend. Do whatever you deem necessary to restore your energy, and don’t beat yourself up about it.
The practice of self-care on an intermittent basis is admirable, but it is also important to remember to practice self-care daily. Everyday self-care includes things like a balanced diet of nutritious foods, plenty of water, adequate rest, and exercise. You will get a mental and physical energy boost from this.
5. Locate your people.
One of the best things you can do as a single parent is to find a support system you can rely on during this challenging time. Do not be embarrassed to ask for assistance from your loved ones if you have them. Often, loved ones mean well but don’t know how to aid you. You can get help from your loved ones if you are open and frank about what you need.
Do what you can to form a “family by choice” if you do not have a biological one. You should round up your usual crew of reliable aid providers, such as your regular babysitter, best friend, trusted neighbor, or nice mom down the street. Many people today keep their families at a considerable distance. We may have to rely solely on the assistance of our closest companions. If you are having trouble, it is important to find those people and confide in them. Yet again, they might be lost and need your direction to figure out how to help you.
Join a support group, even if it’s virtual if you’re having trouble finding people you can trust. If you’re a single parent, you may want to join one of the many online local or regional support groups. Additionally, it would be wise to reach out to people who are part of your faith community. There are often specialized ministries and programs for single parents at local churches.