As a single working parent, I’ve often been addressed with questions around the difficulty of raising two children on my own and quite frankly, I believe that if you stay organized that it is not really that much more difficult than raising children with a partner. In fact, sometimes, because you are the sole authority, in some ways it is simpler. Simple, that is, but by no means easy. You need to create very clear boundaries for yourself and your children and you need to be consistent and the rest is really just logistics.
In our current society, single parent families are so prevalent that you no longer have to deal with any isolation or stigma that used to be associated with it in previous times. That was likely one of the most debilitating aspects in the past but now there are so many support mechanisms available that you can access a number of resources that will assist you in your role.
Life will be busy with school and daycare pickups and drop offs, extracurricular activities, homework and household details so be sure to plan to take some personal time and ensure that your children find ways to enjoy private downtime as well. Establishing the priority of “doing nothing” from time to time is an element that will help to rejuvenate you and something that will serve your children throughout their entire lives. Try to consider what you are told every time you embark upon a flight – take care of yourself first because you are not much use to anyone else if you are not okay.
Create a concrete schedule for yourself that builds in time for delays, arguments about what’s for lunch, traffic and any other potential setbacks that can occur on a day to day basis. Get plenty of sleep (even if you’re dropping into bed on some days) and wake up ready to face the day. If you have a plan and simply move through it, it will all work out fine as long as you remain flexible and relinquish control of the things that are not important. Let your kid wear two different coloured socks rather than engage in a fifteen minute argument that throws everything out of balance. Drink your coffee in the car and don’t attempt any complex hairstyles on your regular workday – for yourself or your kids.
Make sure that both you and your children have a supportive group of friends and plan time with them, both altogether and individually. You will need to spend time away from your kids besides being at work so fit in lunch dates with friends, squeak in a yoga class or an hour at the gym and make plans to go out and have fun with your friends or even, dare I suggest, date! If your friends don’t mind the odd trade-off in sleepovers with your children and theirs, you can minimize costs, give the kids a treat and get the necessary respite that you need. If you need to use a babysitter, do it. Put it right In your budget and plan for it on a regular basis – at least, once a month.
Depending on the circumstances of your family situation, the children’s other parent might also be an excellent resource so work through your personal issues that hurt the marriage, put on your big boy/girl pants and establish a working relationship based on the needs of the kids. Look at it completely logically and don’t let emotions get in the way. Determine from the beginning how decisions will be made, if it is not established in a custody arrangement and live up to your end. Don’t do the other parent’s end.
While single parenthood is rarely something you planned, you can make the best of it and end up having close relationships with your children and civilized working partnership with your co-parent and a life of your own. Leave the drama for the television screen, stay organized and take good care of yourself and those that you love.