Nearly one out of every four American children lives in a household with just one parent. This historic number of single-parent households is due to a variety of different factors. From a death in the family to divorce or even a purposeful decision to raise children alone, millions of individuals are tackling the parenting lifestyle single-handedly.
While this can have many high points and moments of triumph, single parenting is a lonely journey at times. It can feel stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming. If you’re new to the single parent scene (or even if you’re a veteran just looking for a little coping encouragement) here are a few tips to help make the child-rearing journey more manageable.
Planning and staying organized are lifelines to parental success. Now, to be clear, this isn’t a call for you to gain an obsessive level of control over your life. Any experienced parent will quickly tell you that real control is a fallacy. However, you can use organizational tools and guidelines to help you stay oriented in a productive direction as you work through each day.
For instance, many parenting items can make your life more organized. If you have a newborn, a well-stocked diaper bag and an organized diaper caddy can make everything from PJ time to diaper changes much easier as you travel. Even something as seemingly minor as a quality nursing pillow can speed along feeding times.
Along with your parenting tools, you also want to invest in activities that can help you stay organized and reasonably in control of your life, especially since you might not currently have a steady partner around to help you on the daily. Schedules are a classic example of one way to do this. As your kids get older and you begin to balance work, school, and personal life, it’s important to create schedules and even a universal calendar to help you avoid double-booking things.
Routines are another lifesaver. It doesn’t matter if you’re going back to school or getting onto a good bedtime schedule, routines can help keep your family focused and productive, even during long, tiring days.
Find Your Standards
Organization is a critical logistical consideration. However, it’s also important to take some time to consider your beliefs and goals as a family, no matter how big or small. What are your personal parental standards for your children? This applies to all aspects of life. For instance, it’s helpful to have thought out standards for:
- Electronics: Screentime, age limits for phone ownership, and other boundaries are a critical part of guiding your kids into the easily addictive world of smartphones, computers, and other electronics.
- Health: Setting health standards, like cleaning fruits and veggies before eating them and washing your hands when you get home, can help to keep your family healthy and strong.
- Social interactions: Time spent with friends, sleepovers, and other social activities often come with parental decisions and standards.
Along with having thought out standards from the get-go, it’s also important to update and review them regularly. You may feel passionate about something one year and find that it isn’t as critical to adhere to once your child is a year or two older.
Learn to Prioritize
As a single parent, your life is going to be hard at times. In fact, as the breadwinner, the caregiver, and the homemaker, you’re going to be very busy a lot of the time.
As such, it’s important to learn to prioritize. This is essential to discuss along with things like standards because if you get too intense about sticking to every standard that you set, it can overwhelm you very quickly.
Instead, learn to prioritize what counts the most and what would simply be nice to have in an ideal scenario. That way, when you feel that time crunch or you’re low on funds, you can make decisions with a clear conscience based on what really counts.
Staying Positive as a Single Parent
Organization, standards, and prioritization are all critical aspects of parenting at any time. When you’re a single parent, though, they are particularly relevant.
Organization helps you keep your family from sliding into chaos. Having standards can both teach your children about morals and help streamline your decision-making. Learning to prioritize can help you let the right things slide to the back burner when times are tough.
Above all, remember that single parenting isn’t a science. All three of these tips are life-long lessons. You don’t need to use them perfectly right out of the gate. However, knowing that you have them available to help you can make all the difference in restoring a sense of order and purpose to your single-parenting lifestyle.