Raising a child is like an ocean voyage – full of raging storms, rough waves, and occasional sunny tranquillity. It’s hard enough with a partner, but when you’re doing it alone, the difficulty rises to a whole new level.
Just because you’re steering a one-person kayak rather than a two-person canoe doesn’t mean you can’t handily navigate the tumultuous waters of parenthood. These tips can help smooth your journey.
1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: While a trip to a luxury spa would certainly be nice, self-care in the early days of parenting is more about paying attention to your basic needs. These are all too easy to neglect, especially if you don’t have a partner to spell you.
2. JOIN FORCES: Being the lone mom or dad on a playground full of parenting couples every Saturday morning can get old pretty fast, as can being stuck at home every evening with only your baby for company. Finding mums and dads in similar situations can be a lifesaver.
If you’re having trouble finding buddies, consider joining a single parent support group. Visit the Parents Without Partners website; check Facebook, the BabyCenter Community, and other social networking sites.
3. BUILD A COMMUNITY: A strong community can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging – the perfect antidote to the isolation brought on by solo parenting. Don’t just focus on other single parents. The more varied your community, the richer it will be. If you’re on the introverted side, building a community can be tough. You may need to push yourself into social situations. For example, join a church or synagogue, find structured playgroups, or attend weekly story time at your local library.
4. ACCEPT HELP: For some, this is easier said than done. People sometimes feel they don’t deserve to feel overwhelmed by choosing a single parent. But that doesn’t change the fact that you need help.
5. MOVE PAST COUPLE ENVY: Sometimes as a single mother especially, you feel envious of friends who have kind, involved husbands, men who actually wanted to be with them, who wanted to pitch in. But on the other hand, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the illusion that everything would be perfect if you just had a partner.
6. PLAN AHEAD FOR URGENT SITUATIONS: It’s midnight, your toddler has a fever, and you’re out of ibuprofen. Or you have a virus yourself, and you’re too busy throwing up to care for your baby. Without another adult in the house, what do you do?
It’s important to be prepared for these types of situations. Find out if there’s an emergency babysitting service in
your area – while these services can be expensive, they can often provide help fairly quickly.
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