Raising a baby is one of the most difficult yet enriching experiences for all of us. Doing it by yourself will mean twice the effort, patience, and frustration. But it also means twice the pride, joy, and elation. Whatever the reason that you choose to do this parenting gig alone, or whether the choice hasn’t been yours to make, the journey, though hard will be eventful and fulfilling in the long run.
While all the good stuff seems to be evident only in retrospect, here are some survival tips to get through the bad days. It helps to remember that everyone has bad days; be it single parents, parents who raise children together, or any other kind. Do you get the drift?
Build a support system
If you know you are in this alone, try to take time off to slowly build a support system. There is a quote that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. A truer word was never said. First tell yourself that you do not have to do this alone. Then go about building a support system for yourself.
You will be surprised at the goodwill that is out there. Everyone has either raised a child or seen someone do so. So it is one topic where most people other than having an opinion also have a lot of empathy on.
Take time off for yourself
Whether you like to admit it or not, caring for another individual round the clock and putting their needs above yours is an exhausting task. You can’t be a good parent if you do not take the time to physically and mentally nourish yourself.
Make sure you take time off to exercise, destress and recharge your batteries every once in a while. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty about it. Instead, learn to see it as a time investment that you make for your little family to flourish.
Be part of a community
Sometimes it is hard to chug along a difficult road alone. But when you have company, it seems easier to deal with life. Connect with others who are single parents and learn from their experiences. People with older children are bound to have wisdom you will find useful as they have traversed the road you are now crossing.
When you have limited time, set resources; you are prone to finding ways to optimize resources to the maximum. So share this wisdom with others who may find it useful. Try to be a part of a community that is enriched by mutual wisdom and shared experiences.
Since you are a single parent, you will need to make sure you have enough money for a rainy day. Given that you do not have the luxury of two incomes or the support system a two parent family will have, your savings will come in handy when you have an emergency that is unavoidable.
Ask for help when you need it
Many times, we get so caught up in the humdrum of life that we do not stop to wonder how to make our lives easier even if such a route may exist. If you look around, you may find people who admire your grit for taking on the role of parenting all alone and will be more than willing to lend you a hand when you need one. Be respectful of this privilege and take it once in a while when you feel overwhelmed with the duties of parenting.
Plan ahead for emergencies
Since you have to take on the role of a father and a mother, situations where you may find things difficult to handle will be many in number. One thing that always helps is to have a plan in place. List the situations in which you might find the daily routine collapse and come up with a plan on how to handle such a situation.
It could be a simple mobilizing of resources to making some previous arrangements to handle meals etc if you fall sick. Planning in advance will make sure that you disrupt your child’s sense of stability as less as possible when you have to deal with any kind of emergencies. It will also give you a valuable chance to discuss the solutions with your child in order to prepare them for the same.
Involve your family
Whatever the reason you have ended up single, remember that families are an important component of a child’s upbringing. It is good for your child as well because they will become friendlier around people other than you.
An only child or a child with a single parent tends to get clingy because of lack of exposure to too many people. You can remedy this by getting together with family and friends during the holiday season or thanksgiving; thereby give your child a sense of belonging.
Embrace your situation than feel sorry about it
Everyone finds themselves in situations in life that are not exactly ideal. But as a parent it is better you take it in your stride than wallow in self-pity. This is important for two reasons. One is that you will be setting an example for your child to take life in their stride and deal with a problem than feel victimized.
The other reason is that dealing with a problem or situation head on makes life easier as it is a changed mindset that will lead you to take challenges in your stride. Always remember that life should be viewed as a continuum rather than a snapshot. This perspective will help you fret less over bad days and see the larger picture.
At the end of the day, everyone struggles through the initial years of parenting. As a single parent, you will find that the bond you share with your child is very strong. You can also use the situation to your advantage as you will have a very strong influence over your child being the primary and only caregiver. So shape their minds in a way only you can and embrace the journey. Happy Parenting!
Are you a single parent? What are some things that keep you going? Share with us your experience in the comments below!