5 Ways to Make Being a Single Parent Easier
Being a parent is one of the most rewarding, yet hardest jobs you can do. Being a single parent is even harder. Everything from the nitty-gritty of daily life to the big issues is all up to you. If you are a single parent, then undoubtedly you already know this. But what can you do to make life seem easier? Here are five tips.
1. Be Organised
It sounds simple, but unless you're already the ultra-organised type, it might not come easily. Being organised, however, can mean the difference between feeling like you are living on a chaotic roller-coaster, to adopting a more relaxed way of living for you and your children.
Make sure you have everything ready for the children before you go to bed. School uniforms, PE Kits, swimming gear, packed lunch—whatever they need, get it ready the night before so that your morning will be a breeze rather than something that resembles a war zone. The same goes for yourself—things like work clothes should be ready and at hand so that you wake up prepared and ready to go, rather than having to empty the laundry basket in a mad frenzy for that item you meant to wash on Saturday and forgot about.
And when you're not at work/school, plan the day ahead of time so that you can make the most of your leisure time. Make sure you have everything sorted in advance— a gift for a party, picnic for a day out, etc. It definitely makes a difference to think ahead when you don't have any other adults on hand to help you out.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep can make a surprising difference to the way you feel. And yet, being a single parent makes you a prime candidate for sitting down at the end of the day, only to accidentally fall asleep in front of the TV. Not only are you exhausted, but there isn't anyone else around to wake you up. If that sounds like you, try to force yourself to go to bed before that happens, because waking up on the sofa in the early hours and then having to make your way to bed makes for a very disturbed sleep pattern, which is no good for your mood or your health.
If you find yourself still working in the evenings, have a cut-off point and stick to it. You'll function better and be more productive if you regularly get a good night's sleep. And when you do get into bed, don't allow your mind to focus on problems or worries. You can't do anything about it right at that moment—this is your time to rejuvenate.
3. Have a Plan
If you are finding life hard, and it seems as if there is no end in sight, you need a plan. This is particularly important if you are struggling financially, as a lack of money can leave you feeling unstable and vulnerable.
Make a realistic plan of where you would like to be in one year, three years, or even five years from. Think about it properly, and plan the steps you will take to get there. Whether that is changing your job, starting a business, working from home so that it is easier to fit in around the kids, taking a course, or even moving house - write it all down and meticulously consider what your options are.
Having a plan might not change the present, but it will motivate you and give you hope that the future can and will be different. Plans give life meaning because no one wants to be stuck in a rut with no obvious way out.
4. Give Yourself a Break
Say 'no' more often. You don't have to act like Superwoman all the time (and anyway, you are already Superwoman for raising your kids on your own). If something feels like too much when you are already being pulled in all directions, just say 'no'.
Even though you might feel guilty at the time, you shouldn't—and you'll feel better for it. Children can have a lot of social engagements these days, and if you are working as well, or if you have more than one child, you simply cannot always fit everything in. What's more, if you try to, you will only run yourself down and end up feeling resentful and joyless.
There is a book out at the moment called 'Lagom', which portrays the Swedish outlook on developing balanced living—but it's not just the Swedes that need this, it's everyone!
Remember, if you're running ragged and nothing is fun, something needs to change.
5. Do Something Together
Do something together, as often as you can. This is probably the most important piece of advice anyone can offer, ever.
Life is short and has a tendency of passing by whilst we barely notice. When you are a single parent, it is easy to allow your days to be filled with nothing but work and chores and ferrying children from A to B. It's understandable—life can be exhausting. But in allowing that to happen, you're missing out on one of the most important aspects of being a parent - spending time with your children.
Spending time together as a family is really important - it strengthens bonds and increases happiness. Try to find something to do together every day, whether that is going out somewhere at the weekend, or just playing a game together at the end of a work/school day. You might not feel you have time, but some games (like Boggle, for example) only have a play time of around 15 minutes or so. That 15 minutes, however, will add to the well-being of your family.
Remember, in the end, it's the memories that matter, not whether your house was immaculate.
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