As a single parent, you may find yourself struggling to meet your many responsibilities. But by learning from successful strategies used by other single families, you can achieve a life of enjoyment and fulfilment for you and your children.
While being a single parent can sometimes feel tough and thankless, and you may worry whether you’re giving your children the best start in life, there’s plenty of proof that single parents can raise raise happy, well-balanced and confident children.
You don’t have to look far to find children raised by single parents who have gone on to achieve great success in life either – just look at Barack Obama and Bill Clinton!
Nine tips for being a successful single working parent
So how can you ensure that you give your children the best start in life as a single working parent? Award-winning divorce and family law practice Toronto Divorce Law share nine strategies that they’ve seen work for their clients.
1. Work with your employer to create a suitable work schedule
It’s difficult to become a successful single parent to your child when your working responsibilities take over your life. So it’s important to strike the optimal work-life balance.
If your employer isn’t already aware, explain that you are a single parent and see if you can agree a mutually beneficial flexible working arrangement – for example starting work earlier so you can leave earlier, or completing some work from home.
And remember that you have the right to request flexible working arrangements with your employer.
You may find these articles helpful when considering your options at work:
- How to request flexible working arrangements.
- How to appeal a rejection for flexible working arrangements.
- Your legal rights after maternity leave.
- How to make a convincing case for homeworking.
- The truth about family-friendly working.
- Why flexible working makes good business sense.
2. Remain calm in challenging circumstances
You have to wake up early in the morning, spend your days working hard at your job and then spend time taking care of your children in the evening.
It’s the type of schedule that could test anyone’s nerves – but remaining calm in front of your children will help keep everyone happy. Every one of us requires a sense of release for the emotions we build up inside of us. But it’s important to find the appropriate mechanism for releasing these emotions.
Speak with friends or family members on a regular basis. You could also start this process by keeping a diary and writing about your thoughts and feelings.
3. Build a support team and ask for help
Being a single parent can lead to feelings of isolation. No matter how strong you are and how much you’ve achieved to date, you won’t be able to go through the entire single parenting process alone.
You’ll need a support structure. This structure could include other mums and people in your local area. If you don’t know many people, try joining baby or toddler groups or getting to know mums at nursery or school. Even just striking up conversation with another mum at the park or local cafe can be the start of a great friendship.
People are usually more than happy to help, and it will make them feel more comfortable about approaching you for help when they need it too.
4. Schedule access arrangements
Based on what was decided during your trial or informal agreement on visitation rights for your ex, make a schedule for your child visiting the other parent so co-parenting becomes smoother and more efficient. This way you always know when your child will be visiting your former partner.
Try your best to make it work out and don’t stress over things that are not in your control. You cannot force the other parent to take out time for their child – those are the other parent’s issues and not yours. Focus on how you can become the best parent possible.
5. Set goals for yourself
In developing your lifestyle as a single parent, it’s important to move forward. By setting specific objectives on a day-to-day basis, you can build a schedule that becomes a foundation for success in the future.
Whether the goal is a long-term objective, such as going back to school, or a short-term goal such as writing in a journal twice a week, building this type of schedule will help you improve your life. By taking care of yourself, you’re then better able to take care of your children and meet their needs on a long-term basis.
6. Find positive male role models
Children are vulnerable and naive, so try to make a point of not criticising your ex in front of them, nor their gender in general.
It’s important for you to show your child that they are surrounded by good men. If you need to, you can use positive examples such as an uncle, grandfather or male friend.
7. Be prepared for the short and long-term future
Being a single parent means being able to predict when your child might have a need in the short-term or long-term future.
For example, on days when you’ll be spending time with the child at a restaurant, you might bring their favorite toys and a few snacks to keep them happy and entertained.
It’s also important to prepare for the long-term future. For example, you might take an hour out of the week to teach children on the importance of reading. This could then ensure the child is ready for when school begins and will help strengthen their understanding of outdoor signs and other forms of communication they encounter.
It’s a commitment to preparation that can help single parents reduce their stress levels while raising happy children.
8. Have fun!
Probably the most simple yet important tip when it comes to parenting of any sort is to have fun with your child and spend quality time together.
Visit the library, local museum or science centre, take a walk in the park or watch a movie together. Joint activities will strengthen your bond and take your child’s mind off the fact that the other parent is not in the picture.
9. Look after your own needs
Only by understanding your own personal needs and building your relationship with your child, can you become a happy, positive and successful single parent.
Creating the balance between your own life as an adult and a parent can be difficult, but it’s been proven possible by families across the world.
So schedule some kid-free time for yourself from time to time and practise a bit of self-love, by listening to your needs and seeing out activities that you enjoy. When you are happy and relaxed you can keep your kids happy and cater to their needs.
Enjoy raising your family in your own way
Every family is different, and you’ll find your own way to raise yours. That said, following a few simple guidelines, as above, can help make a big difference to the happiness and wellbeing of you and your children.
A few more words of wisdom to bear in mind:
- Create the optimal work-life balance to reduce outside sources of stress.
- Keep your calm by finding an outlet for emotions.
- Build a support structure of friends and family.
- Set clear goals for both the short and long term.
- Commit to preparation for future events.
And remember that, while being a single parent is often not easy, and certainly requires hard work and sacrifices, millions have been down the path before and come out as successful and well-grounded individuals with strong families. And so can you!