The TSL Kids Crew Blog
Raising a child is difficult enough, but doing it as a divorced or single parent in today’s world comes with even more challenges. Besides the normal struggles of balancing a career and family life, now parents have to navigate a global pandemic, help their children combat bullying and protect their mental health. Although there may be more difficulties in raising your kids alone today, there are ways to parent successfully on your own and create a thriving environment for your children.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
Be PresentToday, it’s not uncommon for parents to feel like they are competing with technology for their children’s attention. However, having quality time with your children is especially important for single parents. If you share custody with your ex, time with your kids can become limited, so you want to make these moments meaningful. How can you do it? Minimize any distractions when you’re together and create an environment of open communication where they can discuss their feelings.
It’s also vital to give your children the proper amount of affection and praise, as they may feel neglected if you have a busy schedule. Do your best to stay involved in your children’s lives and acknowledge any achievements, small or large. This could be as simple as letting them know you’re proud of their good grades or supporting them at their school play.
Be ProactiveAs the nation faces economic highs and lows due to the pandemic, the financial strain it places on single parents may be greater than ever before. Along with managing different schedules and daily tasks, you need to account for the future, which can be overwhelming and expensive. But as long as you're organized and plan ahead, you’ll be able to overcome any financial burdens.
Especially with one source of income, you need to consider the cost of child care, school supplies, extracurricular activities, and other child-related expenses. You should examine how these expenses may change once your children grow older, like the prospect of a car or college tuition, and how you plan to adjust to these differences. Also, think about any goals you have for your family. Do you want to create a college fund for your children? Move closer to relatives? Get a dog?
Create a budget for your current expenses and also add room to fund your goals. Being proactive and planning ahead for necessary costs and financial goals will help you stay on track to afford the future.
If you’re struggling to pay for these expenses or save for your goals, try looking into government assistance programs, child support, or find creative ways to stretch your paycheck. If you’re in need of a large sum of cash, for something like enrolling your child in a travel sport, you might consider a personal loan.
Communicate with Your Co-ParentIf there is a co-parent in the picture, it’s important that the two of you do your best to communicate effectively. This may present a challenge, especially if the relationship ended poorly. However, the matter in which you communicate as a co-parent can have a profound impact on your relationship with your kids and how you raise them. There are many matters that the two of you will still need to discuss regarding your children, such as arrangements for drop off and pick up from daycare, dates for important events in your child’s life and even more serious decisions like whether or not to have your child vaccinated. While daycare drop-off and pickup may be easy to discuss, weightier matters, like vaccination, might take more time and patience depending on each parent’s stance. Recognize that you and your ex will not always agree on the best course of action for parenting your children. Despite your agreements, try to avoid arguing, especially in front of your children. Choose your battles wisely. For more serious matters, rely on facts and research rather than your opinion. Lastly, the two of you should come up with a plan for how you will handle matters you are struggling to come to consensus on. Whatever you do, avoid making your children mediators.
Prioritize Self-CareAt times, being a single parent can feel exhausting and be emotionally draining. You focus so much on being a good parent that you can forget to take care of yourself.
However, it’s vital to prioritize self-care when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re struggling with a negative mindset and neglecting to prioritize your own needs, you’re not rejuvenating yourself—and therefore can’t give your best to the children. A bad mood may indirectly transfer into your parenting, so set aside time each week to focus on yourself and recharge.
For busy parents, appropriate child care is especially important to prioritizing self-care. Whether it’s spending time alone to relax or having a fun night out with friends, you should do something enjoyable when you’re not on parent duty. Even if it’s just for a few hours, this will give you much needed time to relax and focus on your own well-being.
TSL Team Contributions
This blog is for parents and educators to learn more about our organization. It's also the space where we share information of interest to parents.