13 Ways To Reduce Stress As A Single Parent
This year I forged into the world as a single parent.
At this stage in my life, I never thought I would be here. I thought that after 20 years of marriage I was looking down the barrel of retirement and eagerly anticipating my future as a “Grey Nomad”, but alas, I guess that wasn’t in the plan for me, or at least not yet anyway.
I have always admired the single parent struggling to do it on their own, however I never truly appreciated what they faced every day until I found my myself having to follow suit.
It’s not so much all the day to day tasks, like making sure the girls are organised for school, cooking and cleaning and maintaining a house all while working full time. Yes it’s hard, but it’s not the hardest thing.
The thing I am struggling with is the loneliness.
Someone to talk with at the end of the day.
Someone to say goodnight to before you close your eyes.
Someone to say good morning to once you open them again.
Someone to bring you a nice cup of tea when you’re feeling crappy.
Someone else to yell at the kids besides myself and someone share in the joyful moments too.
How can we make it easier?
I have also discovered that there are some sure fire ways to make this single parent gig a lot easier on you and your kids.
Routine Routine Routine
- Have a morning and an afternoon routine which everyone follows. Knowing what to expect and knowing when everything should happen each day is comforting and can make things a lot more organised.
- Meal plan for every day every week and write shopping lists accordingly. This prevents the dreaded impulse buy, plus you can get in and out of the supermarket quickly without scratching your head wondering what to make for dinner. You also have your ingredients on hand without any last minute dashes after a long day at work.
Get those kids working
- Have chore lists made up for the whole family, put yourself on there and not just the kids. That way there isn’t constant whinging that it’s “not my turn to feed the dogs”, “It’s not my turn to take out the garbage”. They can see at a glance that is indeed their turn…argument solved.
- Teach your kids (age appropriate of course) to use the household appliances. There’s no reason your teenager can’t put on a load of washing or run the dishwasher. Teach them basic household skills and even some easy meals so they can contribute. It will give them a sense of accomplishment, teach them a new skill, all the while helping you out.
- If you have older kids that drive, utilize them to help with picking up and dropping off of younger siblings. Send them down to the supermarket to pick up incidentals. My 18 year old has been invaluable to me in this instance and there is no reason why they can’t lend a helping hand.
- Older siblings also make great babysitters. Although at times you do have to fit your social life in with theirs and that can prove challenging.
- Sync up your calendars. I have found the sharing capability with the inbuilt Iphone calendar invaluable. 3 of my girls have mobile phones and the youngest has an Ipod. I have set up a “family” calendar whereby we can all add things like work shifts, parties, play dates etc. That way everyone knows at a glance on their devices when someone needs to be home for babysitting duty. This also prevents double booking yourself and lets me know what everyones plans are. It’s so easy! Which teenager doesn’t have their phone with them all the time? There is also the reasoning that “if it’s not on the calendar then it’s not happening”. No one is able to say, “well I told you about it weeks ago” ‘Cause if you didn’t put it on the calendar, then no you didn’t.
- Join some Facebook groups. There are some good ones out there for a single parent, or perhaps parenting groups in general. Groups are a good way to not feel so alone, especially when you realise just how many other single parents are in the same situation.
- Pick a fun activity to do with the kids every couple of weeks. It doesn’t have to cost anything. It could be a drive to the beach or national park. A craft activity at home. A movie and popcorn night. A family BBQ. Anything at all, just as long as you spend some quality time together. Life can get away from you. We all get caught up in the day to day and forget about the joy. Don’t forget to still experience joy once in a while.
Go out and have fun!
- Go out and have fun! Where is it said that once you are a parent your social life is over? Make new friends, dance the night away. Parenting on your own is hard and lonely. It’s not good for you or your children to shut yourself away from the rest of the world.
- With everyone at school, uni or work during the week, things can get a little messy in the house. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of each day whereby everyone is responsible for putting away their mess. Most of what makes a house look messy is just general clutter.
- Accept the help if it is offered. This is one I really need to learn myself . I never ask for help and I very rarely accept it. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to create the impression that I’m not coping, which of course I am! Maybe it’s because I hate inconveniencing other people, which I do! Maybe it’s just asking and accepting help from others makes me feel uncomfortable, which it does! These are all things that should not factor in your decision to ask for or accept help. You can bet there are plenty family and friends who will only be too glad to lend a helping hand. I really need to take heed of my own advice.
- Don’t be afraid to move on. Yes your relationship is over or has come to an end and yes that is sad. I truly believe the saying time heals all wounds is true and in time spending time with someone else is completely normal There is still a lot of fun to be had in your life and you only get one to enjoy, make the most of it.
Even though day to day living as a single parent is harder, busier and stressful, we are all happy and healthy. We make the time to laugh each day and to be grateful to have one another.
I’m not saying we don’t have days where everything just grinds to a halt and I feel like throwing my hands up and surrendering, but we are getting there.