There are so many stresses that a single parent has to contend with – firstly there may be the fact that a divorce or a bereavement of losing a spouse has to be dealt with and come to terms with; then there is the fact that a single parent has to balance home, and work.
A single parent working means a single income and this may often mean that the parent has difficulty making ends meet, having to undergo financial stress.
There is also the practical problem of having to juggle household chores and then finding the time to spend with kids.
If the day care is inadequate or doesn’t seem to be working for another reason, this is more stress for a single parent.
In the midst of all this there may not be any time for rest or relaxation; and neither for social interaction that could lead to a new and rewarding relationship.
1. Tips to overcome financial stress of being a single parent
Outline a monthly or weekly budget, and then stick to it; prioritizing spending and avoiding credit as much as possible. Prioritizing is important – take a long hard look at how much is being spent on clothes, cable TV, cell phones, and see how expenditure can be cut back.
If however you find the bills piling up, consider consulting a credit counselor. Contacting the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227 may be a good idea.
When a single parent finds that he/she is unable to make mortgage, rent or car loan payments; consider moving or temporarily putting up with family to tide things over.
2. Tackling household chores
Doing everything around the house can be not only overwhelming, it may just be impossible to cope with. So assign tasks to the children in the house as well; as per their age and capability.
Also have a daily routine that is followed so that the set pattern can make things such as meals, chores, bedtimes and so on more efficient, organized and streamlined.
3. Admit it if you need help
If things get too overwhelming there is no shame in admitting that it has become too difficult to cope and that a person needs help. Consider taking on help or even consulting with a counselor who can help sort through the stress and emotional problems.
4. Seek adult friends, and social contact
Much as any single parent may love their child, it is natural to need adult company and stimulation. So make time to meet friends or to make new ones. Try and meet with adult members of the family more often too.
5. Set boundaries
A single parent has enough stress to deal with, without having to deal with badly behaved children as well. Make sure that rules are obeyed and methods of discipline consistently adhered to. These rules should also be communicated to care givers so that the kids are consistently dealt with.
6. Be honest with kids
It can add to a parent’s stress that a child has difficult questions relating to an ex-spouse or a deceased parent. Be as honest as possible and try answering questions in an age appropriate manner.
7. Do not feel guilty
While it may be easy for a single parent to feel guilty about the situation that they or their children are into, this guilt can be a corrosive and negative. If your kids cannot have some of the finer things in life, then there is no need to feel guilty about this; you’re doing the best that you can.
Keeping it all together and then making time for the kids and also making sure that they have all the necessities as well as your support and love, count for more than you may think.
8. Join a Support Group
A single parent may likely feel the loss and the loneliness, and the emotional vacuum that a spouse may leave in their wake. This may be difficult to take and joining a support group for widowed or divorced parents (as the case may be) and focusing on getting the help you and your kids need is the key to getting back on track here.
9. Take time out for yourself
Yes it’s true, there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all that you have scheduled for the day, but prioritize yourself too. Remember if you are stressed and burnt out, this doesn’t bode well for your family and you may end up more stressed and even less able to cope. So chat with a friend, make time for a relaxing bath, go on a date and take the time to relax.
10. Look after your health
You may make sure that your kids are keeping good health, but if you don’t look after your own health, then this may be asking for trouble and bad health or disease can not only take you by surprise but also wreak financial havoc on your budget. So be active, eat healthy, take the time to exercise and try and inculcate the same habits in the kids.
11. Don’t forget to enjoy your children
Remember you are never going to be young again and your children are never again going to be the age that they are currently. There is something inherently wonderful and fascinating about children at every age and the transformations that they undergo are equally wonderful to witness.
So remember to play with your kids, enjoy spending time together and doing things together even if it is only tossing a ball in the park or going bicycling or rollerblading together. Read together, go for a walk or a picnic, listen to music together, and spend time being a family.