Guilt is a big part of being a single parent, no doubt. It is not easy to juggle your time and all the parenting responsibilities. More often than not, as a single parent, you end up doubting your parenting decisions. Without a parenting-partner, all the decision-making rests on your shoulders. You have to take full charge of raising your kids. You have to find out what is essential for their upbringing and instill the right values, skills, and traits in them. Sometimes you end up stressed. While it is okay to feel some stress, too much stress regularly has the risk of leaking into your relationship with your children. That is why it is important that you find ways to centre yourself both mentally and emotionally. Other than being strong during your stressful moments, you also need to be an inspiring role model for your young ones. You might not realize it, but they are persistently learning from you, from how to deal with their own emotions to how to handle situations.
Here are a few tips on how you can maintain your balance as a single parent:
Have a routine
An excellent place to start from would be creating a daily routine. A habit will help you keep calm and balanced and also help your kids know what is expected of them. Having a schedule helps you stay organized, you don’t end up scrambling to fix time for dinner or helping your munchkin finish homework. With a routine, you don’t run the risk of interruptions taking charge of your day; you will always remain on track.
Simplify your activities
As a single parent, you don’t have the luxury of time to do all those things you would if you had a co-parent. When you simplify your life, you keep it conducive for you and the kids. Cutting down on activities and scheduling your kid’s activities to take place at the same time as yours ensures both you and your kids don’t get overwhelmed. This way you get to kill two birds with one stone. Always remember that you are one person and you are not helping your children when you are always ragged and exhausted. If you don't simplify your days, you risk burning out quickly.
Organize your finances
Money is a leading cause of stress for every parent. As thus, it is critical that, as a single parent, you get hold of your finances. Money, just like time spent with your kids, is vital in ensuring your kids get the best as they grow up and in future. Organizing your finances helps in reducing anxiety in your family and enables you to provide a comfortable lifestyle for your children. You may need to create a budget, learn about making long-term investments, and of course taking charge of your existing debts, if any. You need to set specific, and achievable goals to clear any debts by maybe making payments you can afford towards your loans and gradually increasing the amount you save for your kid’s future.
With an improving financial situation, you will feel less stressed, and like mentioned earlier, your kids will pick this up. Irrespective of the amount you earn, organizing your finances will enhance the overall well-being of your family.
Despite the ever-engaging work, chores, school, and events, you have to find enough time to spend with your kids and then with yourself. Spending time with your kids together as a family helps build your relationship with one another and allows both of you to relax. Be it talking, going for a walk or doing an activity; spending time together ensures you stay engaged with your kids and you get to know their thoughts even as you guide them through life.
Other than spending quality time with your kids, you need to have you-time. You need to create time for yourself. Remember, when you operate at your best, you give your best- at work and to your relationship with your children. You need to take time to concentrate on your well-being and health. It could be the basic stuff like having that warm bath you adore or reading a book as long as the result is a refreshed and less-stressed you. There is no better way of improving your energy levels, mood, and ability to stay calm even when under pressure, other than doing the things you enjoy, especially those that are not mentally draining.
Consistency, honesty and being positive
Both you and your children need consistency. That is the only way you will both know what to expect from each other with fewer stress-causing surprises. To achieve this, you need honesty. Honesty liberates you as a parent and at the same time teaches your children the value of being truthful. This way, they grow up straight and without false hopes or ideas about life. In most cases, this starts by telling the story about why you and your partner split up- within reason for their age. At all times, you need to answer their questions honestly- in age-appropriate language- and make them understand why things are like they are.
Lastly, in parenting, it is vital to stay positive. Perhaps, this is the most important lesson you can teach your children. Narrow your focus to the things you can do and be grateful you can achieve them. Get to smile often and say positive statements around your children. Even when you have to fake positivity, do it. It will lift everyone’s mood, and it can have a real effect on your emotions as well. Forced or not, the impact of your smile will always be real for your kids.
Finding a balance is not only about finding an equal-share split between being a parent and looking after yourself. For a parent, balance is more of being creative and coming up with ways of maximizing free time and dictating what you gain during that time. It is about finding ways of bringing yourself through the process of parenting and at the same time acquiring something for yourself while at it.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke