There are no two ways about it – being a single parent is tough. I know because I have done, and continue to do, it myself. Happily, I am able to say that my daughter, Ashley, is growing up well and has access to all of the opportunities in life that she will need.
One of my aims with Family Strength is to inspire people to achieve what I have in their own lives and I especially want to speak directly to the single parents out there who are scared they might collapse under the weight of the responsibility.
My message is clear. You can do this and I am here to help. Here are a few of the things that I have learned during life as a single parent that may be able to help you.
Take Care Of Yourself Too
One of the best pieces of advice that I can give to single parents is that it’s okay to take time for you every so often. In fact, focusing on your own health and mental wellbeing will put you in a better position to raise your child.
It can definitely be hard. After all, your child is always going to be your priority, plus you need to strike a balance between working to provide for the both of you and making sure your child enjoys life with his or her parent. Still, in taking care of yourself you come to understand exactly what it takes to do the same for your child.
You don’t have to go it alone just because you are a single parent. Your family and friends are all there to help you along the way, plus the communities on blogs like Family Strength are able to help you with all of the advice that you need.
Of course, asking for that help can be difficult. I have a lot of pride and I struggled with the idea that I would need a helping hand from anybody. However, I quickly realized the scale of the task ahead of me as a single parent and embraced the idea quickly. I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I ever did, because the help and support I received has shaped me into the parent I am today.
Now this is one of the biggest tests for single parents. Starting a new relationship is exciting, but it comes with so many questions when you are a single parent. When do I tell my partner? What do I tell my child? How do I handle introductions? What do I actually want?
These are all important questions and my advice is to try and take the pressure off yourself. Yes, they all need to be answered, but trying to rush to those answers could stress you out and prevent you from enjoying the relationship. Be open about being a parent and move onto the other stuff at your own pace.
Don’t Fall To Couples Envy
For a while there I was guilty of looking at couples with children and being envious of them. I wanted so badly to provide that stability for Ashley and it made me feel as though I wasn’t doing right by her because she didn’t have a father in her life.
It wasn’t until I took a step back and took stock of how well Ashley is growing up that I realized that being single doesn’t necessarily mean your child is missing out. Every parent has their problems to overcome, be they single or part of a couple. The key is to always keep pushing through those issues, regardless of your relationship situation. Couples envy will just lead to you failing to see the amazing job you are doing on your own.
Single parents will often struggle with fitting work around family time. I know I did, especially when I was working as a personal trainer at a gym, as the hours were long and I had little flexibility.
I quickly decided to go freelance so I could take more control of my schedule and ensure I was there for Ashley first and foremost. Now I’m not saying that’s the path that every single parent should take, but it is imperative to make sure that your need to work to provide for your children doesn’t supersede the importance of actually spending time with them.
Focus On What You Can Control
I’m a bit of a worrier at the best of times, which has led me to focus a little too much on the things I can’t control, rather than those that I can.
This is rarely a good idea, as it just leads to stress, which can affect your parenting. Accept the things you can’t change for what they are and instead focus on what you can do to make your child’s life even better.