Written by: Cally Worden
Most people don’t have kids with the intention of single parenting. But life often has other ideas, and for a host of reasons, many Mums and Dads find themselves left holding the baby alone. Being a single parent can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming – suddenly it’s all on you. If you find yourself in this position, here is some advice to help you find a new equilibrium in your life.
The Initial Shock
Single parenthood is usually the result of family breakdown, or family tragedy. Whether you are aware of your impending single parenthood or not, nothing can really prepare you for the reality of your new situation. Dealing with the aftermath of circumstances that have led you to become a single parent, can be incredibly emotionally draining and with the practicalities of life demanding all your energy, your emotional well being can be way down the priority list. It is vital that you make time out for yourself in whatever way will help you to relax. You cannot maintain the energy you need to survive as a single parent if you don’t take care of yourself.
Friends and Family
Your support network is now more important than ever. If you have friends and family nearby they can provide much needed back-up. Single parents have to juggle so many aspects of life. We all need a little help sometimes, so never be afraid to ask for it. Requesting assistance is not a sign of failure or weakness. It takes a strong person to recognise they need help, actively seek it, and above all, accept it. If your situation has left you largely devoid of a support network, then consider contacting a single parent support groups or charities such as Gingerbread. You don’t have to do this alone.
Many single parents have to struggle by on much less income than before. Make it your business to understand your rights in respect of available benefits, child maintenance and tax credits. The Citizens Advice Bureau is another valuable source of information, and organisations like the Family Welfare Association can often help with costs associated with your own education and training, which may give you a boost to either get back into work, or enhance your money-earning prospects.
General Survival Tips
- Accept any genuine offers of help graciously and gratefully – school runs, babysitting, offers of occasional childcare – all these little things can make a big difference to your life
- Enlist the help of older children to help out around the house – it will teach them good life skills, and instil a sense of personal responsibility that will benefits them as they grow up. This is something you may have done anyway before single parenthood, so why not continue now when it’s even more important to your family unit
- Be as organised as you can about the cost and practicalities of acquiring things – saving up for new shoes, a school uniform, or simply putting a bit by for Christmas will help ease your financial burdens in the future
- If you know time will be short for shopping around, then plan trips as far in advance as you can – ring fencing time in this way for any predictable activities is good practice and will help you to feel less overwhelmed by everything there is to do
- Take advantage of any skills learning opportunities that are available to you – you may not instantly see the benefit of them, many things you learn in life come in handy when you least expect them to, and the simple act of acquiring a new skill will boost your general confidence no end.