Being a single parent can be great, although it has challenges.
As a friend of mine said, "It Takes a Village."
That statement, and every connotation it has, celebrates every mother, father, and grandparent who takes care of children independently, 24/7, or part-time. It takes a strong person to be a single parent: You are their sole provider, and they depend on YOU. Some people love it, and some people struggle. Did you know in the U.S. today, nearly 24 million children live in a single-parent family? This total has been rising since the early '60s and covers approx. one in every three kids across America*. So in honor of today's special day, we're sharing a few facts on what it means to be a single parent, how to do the best you can, and what's most important. Here goes:
Obviously, with the numbers above – you are NOT alone. Some resources can help single parents.
Resources can start with hiring help or learning to navigate that crazy schedule by asking for help!
Join forces with other single parents; they get it and are unafraid to lean on each other for transportation. Having kids play or being with another single parent can help you take the weight off your shoulders.
It can sometimes seem chaotic to get help for childcare between work, school, and public life. Make it less messy and ensure everyone is on the same page. At the beginning of each week, ensure the kids know what is happening and where they will be for the week.
Balance your schedule: You are one person, and though you’d love to do it all, it's not healthy or helpful for you to try. Call for help, and if you have teenagers that drive or kids that can fully support you…make it happen.
Be consistent with your schedule. The best thing you can do for your children maintains a plan with your ex that works for both of you. This makes kids feel like they can expect the same each week even though there is back and forth.
Enjoy your one-on-one time. No matter how many children you have, go into a single-parent day with a positive attitude and have fun with your kids. They may see you sweat at times, but overall memories you want to keep positive.
Take care of yourself. Yes, even if kids are with you, know your limitations and do not feel guilty for taking an hour or so for yourself. Whether napping, working out, walking with a friend, or anything else you enjoy. Kids must be taught self-care; you do not need to apologize for needing your downtime.
Establish special moments or traditions that are for you and your kids only. These new moments will last a lifetime. Kids feel loved and cherished during these times, times you and they will cherish forever.
Be Human – meaning be honest; you do not have to be Ms. or Mr. Happy face or stoic – be you because otherwise, children can see right through that.
Be accessible – when they are with you, maintain that you are there for them when they need to talk or snuggle. This fulfills one aspect of balance and stability.
Lastly, life is ever-changing, and that’s all right. If you can communicate with your children what’s going on, whether good or bad, let them always know that you love them, and that’s what’s most important.
One last thing: LOL at yourself! You're learning to be the best mom or dad you can, which means you’ll probably mess up, but that’s alright. Just keep a great attitude and giggle as much as possible. Xo, Erin
* Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation