Being a single parent can be challenging and rewarding
You are not alone! Millions of single parents ae raising happy healthy children. The key is balancing your needs and the needs of your child. This involves:
Single parents often face challenges that can cause stress. Learning to manage stress can help you be a healthier person and a better parent.
It is important to create a plan to overcome challenges and work hard to carry it out. This way, you can more fully enjoy the rewards of being a parent.
Getting the support you need
Just becauseyou are a singlr parent, you don't need to do it alone. In fact, trying to do it alone may be harmful to you and your child. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Believe in yourself and your ability to raise your child well!
It's important to accept your role as a single parent.
Ackknowledge your feelings
Becoming a single parent can be stressful. It's natural to feel a roller coaster of emotions. for example, you may feel;
- sad or angry (if you lost your partner due to divorce or death)
- excited (if you chose to raise a child yourself)
- overwhelmed (if you feel unsure about handling many responsibilities).
Tqlking with someone can help you work through your feelings.
Rise to the challenge
whether or not you choose to be a single parent, you can accept your role and do your best to succeed at it. After all, your chid is depending on you.
Choose to be positive
- better manage everyday challenges
- reduce stress
- feel good about yourself
- set a good example for your child
Be ther for your child by taking care of yourself
You will be better able to handle stress and overcome challenges if you take care of your own needs.
Get plenty of rest
Try to have a regular sleep schedule for both you and your child. Being well rested can help you rduce stress and be more successful at work and home.
Try relaxation techniques
To help reduce stress, you may want to try:
- deep breathing
- tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body
- imagining relaxing or peaceful places or situations
Choose healthy foods that fit your culture and taste
choose lean, low-fat or fat-free foods over high-fat ones.
eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Vary your choices, Mke half your grains whole grains, Limit sodium, satured fat and added suugars (in drinks, too). Balance portion sizes with physical activity to manage weight.
Gt enough physical activity
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. In addition, do muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 days. Consult your healthcare provider before staring an exercise program.
By taking care of yourself, you can be a healthier and happier parent.
Take up hobby
Or return to a hobby you've enjoyed in the past. Whether you like to paint, knit, hike, or play an instrument, it's important to take time to nurture your interests.
Talk with others
Avoid talking to your child about adult matters. Instead, share your worries, hopes, and dreams with other adults. Consider:
- talking to other single parents
- joining a support group for single parents
- talking tto a mental health professional or spiritual leader
Spend quality time with adults
Make it a regular habit to spend time with friends and family who make you feel loved and supported. If you date, make sure you choose healthy and responsible individuals.
Avoid unhealthy habits
- Avoid tobacco products. if you need to quit, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Limit alcohol or don't drink at all. Ask your healthcare provider what's best for you.
- Don't use illegal drugs. If you need help to quit, talk to your helthcare provider.
Breaking or avoiding unhealthy habits will help you feel healthier and more relaxed.
Balancing work and home
Although it can be tricky, there are ways to make it easier for you and your child.
Find quality child care
It's important to find child care that you can trust and depend on.If you are comfortable with care your child id receiving, you'll be able to focus more while you work.
- Visit www.childcareaware.org for quality care in your area.
- Find out if you qualify for for either the Head Start or Early Head Start program. These programs provide free child care to low income families.
- Ask friends, family and other parents for child care recommendations.
Look for child care providers that are licensed and accredited by national child care associations.
If possible, work with your child's other parent
If he or she is involved in your child's life, try to work together to share resposiblities. For example, have one parent handle visits to the dentist and the other take care of haircuts.
It may be hard to ask for help from the other parent at first. But remember, you both want what's best for your child.
Ask friends and relatives for help
Consider asking a friend or relative to:
- provide backup child care (if your regular provider ever cancels)
- watch your child before or after school or child care
- bring your child to school or child care
Share responsibilities with another parent
Talk with other single parents about:
- trading child care responsibilities
- carpooling to school or child care
- exchanging help (for example, by sewing clothes in exchange for minor home repairs)
Manage your time
- Set priorities. Whether at work or home, decide what needs to be done and focus on those things first.
- Stick to your schedule. Arrive and leave work on time. This way, you can get the time you need to relax and be with your child.
- Learn to say "no." Doing too much can lead to stress that you don't need.
- Take scheduled breaks. Use this time to clear your head and relax.
- making daily "to-do" lists
- using a planner or family calendar
- using a home filing system to organize important numbers by, or in your phone
Give your child things to do
Ask your child to help with tasks that are right for his or her age. A younger child may be able to help pick up toys or clear the dishes. An older child may be able to help with the laundry or trash. Be sure to thank your child for being so helpful!
Remember, no one is perfect. Just doing your best is enough.
PARENT WITH LOVE
As a single parent, you are the main source of love, support and guidance for your child. It's important to nurture your relationship. Here are some tips:
Spend quality time together
Your child wants nothing more than your attention. Take at least 10 or 20 minutes a day to completely focus on your child. To do this, consider:
- eating at least one meal together every day
- talking on the way to and from school or child care
- playing a game or reading together
Express your love
In addition to kisses and hugs, show your love by listening to your child and spending time together. When he or she makes a mistake, be clear that you still love your child even if you do not like his or her behavior.
If you've recently sepatrated from or divorced your partner, your child may be confused and upset. Your child may worry that he or she caused the split or that you don't love him or her anymore. It can help to:
- Explain the situation in a way that is right for your child's age. For example, say "Daddy and Mommy have decided they will be happier living in different places."
- Reassure your child that your love for him or her will never change
- Answer questions as openly and simply as possible
Your child is watching and learning from your actions. Be the good role model your child needs.
Control your emotions
Being a single parent is challenging. At times, you may feel lonely, overwhelmed and stressed. Resist the urge to take these feelings out on your child. If you feel your temper rising, give yourself a "timeout." Take 10 minutes to calm down by calling a friend, practicing deep breathing or take a shower, for example.
Respect your child
Remember that your child is an individual wuith his or her own thoughts and feelings. Understand that your child will not always agree with you or do exactly what you would like. Treat your child with love and respect and he or she will learn to model this behavior too.
Catch your child being good
If you see your child acting in a positive way, praise him or her! This will encourage your child to behave well in the future.
Use healthy forms of discipline
Decide how you will handle misbehavior ahead of time. Make sure the consequence is fair and right for the misbehavior. For example, consider:
- putting your child in a "timeout"
- taking away a privilege (such as playing a video game)
- taking away a toy or game (if he or she won't share it with another child, for example)
Make sure your child knows the rules and the consequences for breaking them. Then, enforce the consistently.
Never hit or spank your child. Doing this only teaches him or her that it's OK to hurt someone to get what you want.
PARENTS ANONYMOUS OF NEW JERSEY, INC.
Parents Anonymous is a self-help group that offers parenting support and referrals to resources in your community. If you feeling stressed out, you can call their help line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and speak to specially trained volunteer to help you work through your frustrations befor a crisis occurs.