No matter whether you’re a full-time single mom or you have a co-parent who’s sharing the load part-time, becoming a single parent undoubtedly brings up a lot of feelings. Relief, grief, excitement, anger, fear – all of these feelings are normal in the early days, and you need to allow yourself time to work through them.
But although single parenting is hard, it’s also a beautiful opportunity to find new directions for you and your family, by tuning in deeper to your desires. It’s a time to reset your priorities, to focus only on what you can control, and to determine what you do well, and when you need to ask for support. Here’s how to set yourself up for success as you begin your new life as a single mom:
Establish your priorities: To start off, you have to be realistic in evaluating what you have the energy, time, and ability to accomplish from week to week. As a single parent, it’s even more crucial that you don’t burn yourself out by trying to do everything for everyone, because when you’re with your kids you need to be whole and present. To set your priorities, you need to have a really clear vision, values, and goals for what you want this new version of your family to look like. Think about the values that you need to achieve your vision (such as respect, helpfulness, and kindness), while considering what your main goals are for your current life and as your kids grow older.
Create a plan: Once you determine what you want your family to feel like, it becomes so much easier to create a plan of how to get there. From how to set out your daily routine and weekly schedule, to which extracurricular activities and special occasions are most important, your family should work together to make a plan that works for everyone and reduces overall stress in the home. Remember to find ways to communicate, schedule, and provide a feedback loop that allows you to continue to improve your plan in a transparent and helpful way.
Ask for support: The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is even more applicable when it comes to single parenting. When you’re creating your plan and schedule, think about how you can ask for support both inside and outside of your home to ease some of the pressure on you. Depending on the age of your children, they can help out with age-appropriate tasks at home, such as cleaning up their toys, setting the table, or assisting with meal planning. Outside of the home, look to family and community members to support you with tasks like babysitting or carpooling.
Make time for self-care and recovery: Even if you’re single mommin’ it without a co-parent, you still need to find ways to have personal recovery time and to prioritize self-care. Not only do you need solo time to prevent burnout, but it’s also so important to model these healthy behaviours for your children. Turn to family and community members for support to help you take the breaks you need, which in turn will help you be a calmer, more present parent.
No question about it, single parenting is an exhausting, high pressure situation. But instead of suffering through it, try to remember to look at it as an opportunity to create the home that you want to have. Including your kids in the planning and scheduling process allows them to play a key role in creating their own home. By taking the time to prioritize and plan for your new family vision, you’ll actually create more time in your lives – not less – because you’ll be focusing on the things, people, and activities that actually matter the most.
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