Whatever your reason for being a single parent, raising children alone comes with its challenges as well as its rewards. Add to that the responsibility of being a working parent, and things can get even more difficult.
Between work, meals, emails, bath time and bed, it’s easy to lose yourself as you move from one thing to the next. But it really is possible to meet your many responsibilities and achieve a life of enjoyment and fulfilment for you and your children as a single working parent.
Firstly, you’ll need to let go of any guilt you may be harbouring. As parents, we all worry about the start in life we are giving our children. There’s plenty of proof that single working parents can raise raise happy, well-balanced and confident children. When it comes to parents, it’s about quality over quantity!
Keep these tips in minds to help you stay focused on your happiness, health, and the special life you and your child share...
Don't be afraid to ask for help. You do so not out of weakness, but out of love for your child. You might feel like asking for help is admitting defeat, but if you keep doing everything on your own you may exhaust yourself - and that’s no good for you or your child. You may even be shocked by how many people are willing to help. People who care about you may want to play a larger role in your life but may fear they're being intrusive. If a friend offers to lend a hand, accept.
Reach out to your extended family of friends, neighbours, and community organisations such as a parent groups or your place of worship. Have you considered trading childcare with another parent? Make sure you have backups in case things go wrong. Who do you call upon if you come down with an illness? Who should your childcare provider contact if they can’t reach you?
Creating the balance between your life as a working individual and as a parent can be difficult, but finding ‘me time’ can help you become happy, positive and successful in both. Ask a family member or friend to babysit while you attend a yoga class, go shopping, or even sit in the park with a book for an hour.
Regular time for yourself will help you de-stress and your child will be glad to have a happier, more energized YOU. Taking a night out every now and then to let your hair down is also important. Whether you are heading out with friends, seeing a film on your own, or going on a date, put it in your diary and hire a babysitter in advance.
Be open and upfront with your employer about your situation. Explain that you are a single parent and try to negotiate a mutually beneficial flexible working arrangement. Your employer should understand your need to seek an agreeable work-life balance. These articles may help:
Let your work life be your work life and your home life be home. Sometimes a clash is unavoidable but when you can, put all your focus into one or the other at any one time. This will make you more productive at work, and more present as a parent. You can do this by ensuring that you have childcare you can trust, and a work arrangement that means time off is time off!
Our work lives are usually packed with goals and objectives, but it’s important to set them in your home life too. This will help you make sure you are being the parent you want to be, and living the life you want to live. They can be short term goals such as writing memories in a journal or printing photos for a scrapbook, or they can be long term goals such as preparing for a new school term or teaching your child a new hobby.
Schedule in some time to be 100% devoted to being in your child’s world. This is one of the best gifts you can give to them and it’s so simple. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but it should happen regularly. Enjoy being with him or her and make it all about the two of you having fun together.
You could visit the local library or museum, go for a walk or a cycle ride, bake a cake, watch a film together, or even build a fort in the living room! It’s also about building the bond between you in a join activity that you can both enjoy.
Between alarm clocks, homework, traffic, deadlines, and cooking dinner, your own well-being is probably at the bottom of the pile. Plan and prepare healthy meals in advance so you’re not tempted by a quick fix that isn’t good fuel for your body. Factor in time for regular exercise, even if it’s a walk to the park with your child. Be strict with your own bedtime as well as your child’s - you need sleep too! A lack of shut-eye has been linked to a host of serious health issues and you need enough to function properly. It’s also important to keep a healthy mind and talk about your feelings with someone close to you.
Every family is different, and you’ll find your own way to raise yours. If you need some support, you may be interested to know that we are in the process of launching the first in a series of online courses designed to help working parents - from the stage of becoming a parent to returning to work - enabling them truly thrive in their career and family life.
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