by June Duncan for dadspadblog.com – If you’re facing life as a single parent, there’s a good chance that something tough has put you in that position. Whether it’s divorce, abandonment, legal issues, or even the death of a spouse, the struggle to provide a loving, supportive home for your children is often accompanied by your own, personal issues. The fact is, being a single parent is difficult but ultimately rewarding. Here are some challenges you’ll face along the way and how you can begin to overcome them.
An out-of-whack work-life balance
Very few single parents have the luxury of taking time off from their job whenever they need it to spend more time with their kids. Many would love to, but it’s just not possible. Your job is what puts food on the table and clothes on their backs. Single parents everywhere struggle to find a tenable work-life balance.
The first thing you should do is to sit down with your boss or HR department. Explain your situation. Don’t feel embarrassed that you need to ask for certain allowances. Most employers have experience dealing with single parent employees, so they are willing and able to make your schedule work for you. You may have to give something in return (coming in early or staying later in certain scenarios). Discuss the prospect of working from home and telecommuting. Modern technology is making it easier for some with certain jobs to spend less time in the actual office. Try looking into after-school, community, and sports programs to help bridge the gap between when your child is done with the school day and when you can come home from work.
Foregoing your own personal care
When you have to worry about the health, happiness, and safety or your children 24/7, it’s easy to let your own wellbeing fall by the wayside. It’s important to know that you cannot be an effective parent if you yourself are unhealthy – mentally or physically. Self-care is absolutely vital to a functioning household. You must make good choices for your own mental health or you could risk turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the inevitable stress.
Take a three-pronged approach to overall wellness: eat well, get enough exercise, and practice mindfulness. In terms of eating well, it’s often hard to have home-cooked meals when you’re a busy single parent. The allure of cheap fast food is strong. But there are tons of 30-minute recipes that are cheap and delicious, and plenty of cooking equipment to help you out (Crock Pots, Instant Pots, and other slow cookers). When it comes to exercise, know that anything is better than nothing. Work exercise into your daily routine. Reading a document for work? Why not do it while walking? Have a 15 minute break? Try some of these exercise routines that can be done anywhere.
When it comes to mindfulness, it’s all about giving yourself time to breathe and refocus your energy on the positive. Meditation helps with this, as does yoga. Even some simple breathing exercises can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
This challenge is ubiquitous among all single parents. No matter what you may feel like you’re not doing to right thing, or at least could be doing better. There’s no magic bullet solution to feelings of self-doubt, but it can help to read up on parenting and talk to people you know who have either experienced it before or are currently going through it too. When you leave your bubble and see how everyone struggles, you will be less likely to judge yourself too harshly.
You’ll surely face other, more specific challenges as you travel the path of a single parent. The overarching thing to do with any situation is to remind yourself that you are trying your best, and your children love you. With that in mind, you can shrink the emotional blow of almost any setback.