When you became a mother, you probably never anticipated having to parent alone. And for those of you who are separated or divorced, you might find yourself thinking, “Had I known I would have had to do this alone, I don’t know if I would have had kids.”The very idea of having to do parent alone most likely evokes great sadness and anger toward your spouse for putting you in this position. This is a normal way to feel when faced with the daunting task of having to raise your child or children without the ongoing, daily support of your spouse. But while it may not be your first choice, it is still possible to have a very fulfilling and positive experience as a single mother.
We all know the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but the truth is that a child only needs one loving, dedicated caregiver to thrive. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You will miss having your ex around to bounce things off of, or hand off responsibility when you aren’t up to parenting, but the reality is that many moms find that their ex-husbands made parenting more difficult. If you feel that you really miss your spouse, think hard about what exactly you miss. Is it the man, the person, the partner? Or is it the extra set of hands? Many couples end up divorcing because of unresolveable parenting differences, or over a complete lack of involvement.
You may nostalgically recall your ex as being your “other half” when it came to raising the kids, but every parent has the ability to be enough for their child on their own. If you are despairing about how you are going to manage this “parenting thing” on your own, here are five tips to make things easier:
If finances are not an issue, hiring a nanny or babysitter is a great way to get the help you miss. You are not any less of parent because you need someone else around to help you manage. If you can’t afford this option, think about forming a co-op with other parents to get a break, or reach out to family and friends.
Involve Your Children.
If you were a parent that took care of everything, it’s now time to get your kids involved where appropriate. Assigning chores, asking for help in places you might not have in the past, or teaching your kids how to do things like laundry or cooking will lighten your load.
Organize Your Life.
Keeping things organized and creating structured schedules will help you maintain your sanity. This can be anything from utilizing an online scheduling program, to creating a chore chart for your family. Keep important documents filed, stay on top of paperwork and try not to let too many things “build up.”
Maintain Firm Boundaries.
This is your greatest tool as a single parent. Many single mothers find that their children become unruly and defiant when they are left to parent alone. Maintaining strict and consistent rules around bedtime, curfew, routines and behavior will ensure that you remain in charge.
Knowledge is power, so making sure you are educated about your child’s developmental stage and what you can expect from them at any given age will make you a better parent on every level. Parenting is not something you want to do with blind faith, you need information and tools just as you would with any other important job.
Overall, be realistic about the expectations you hold of yourself with regard to being a single parent. Parenting is hard in general, so doing it solo will definitely be challenging. Just remember that you can do it, and maybe even better than you did before.
Have a tip or two for other single moms? Write them below in the comment section.