In an ideal world, a child is raised in a home with two parents. In years past, one parent would work outside of the home while the other would work to take care of the children and cover the home front. However, that “ideal” world no longer exists for many people; for others, they’ve changed the definition of “ideal” to fit their family’s needs.
Single parenting is on the rise. As of 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are around 13.7 million single parents in the United States alone. One out of every four children is being raised in a single parent household.
The Mayo Clinic explains that without a partner, the stakes of parenting might seem even higher to you. You might have sole responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day child care while working full-time. This responsibility can result in added pressure, stress, and fatigue.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with some of the challenges that come with being a single parent:
- Find quality child care. If you need child care, find someone who you can trust. Be sure that your child care provider is qualified and don’t be afraid to check references. Make sure the environment is safe and clean. You will feel better knowing that your child is well taken care of when you are at work.
- Set up a support system. It might be tempting to try and tackle everything on your own, but it’s important for your health to have someone you can talk to about parenting. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help.
- Treat your kids like kids.Parents explains that with the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely too heavily on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. Remember, your children can’t and shouldn’t have to substitute for a partner.
- Take care of yourself. Baby Center advises that self-care as a single parent is about paying attention to your basic needs. Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking time to decompress after a day at work? These things are all too easy to neglect, especially if you don’t have a partner to help take some of the pressure off.
- Don’t feel guilty. Don’t blame yourself for being a single parent. You should be proud of yourself for taking control of your situation and making family your priority. And whatever you do, don’t spoil your child to “make up” for their missing mom or dad.
Being a single parent can really weigh on a person. It’s a demanding job and can lead to sleepless nights, anxiety, and self-doubt. If you’re feeling like this, talking to a therapist can help you work through these emotions and come up with coping strategies. You are doing a very important job, and deserve all the support you need.