Written by: Jenny Smith
Some people are single parents from the word go, whereas others become single parents after a relationship ends for whatever reason. The transition from being joint parents to being a single parent can be a real test and not something that is adapted to overnight.
The simple reality of single parenting is that you have a lot less time out and you shoulder the emotional and practical weight of caring for your kids. Loads of people are parenting in this way and doing so really well, but this doesn’t take away from the truth that being a lone parent can be very demanding and at times overwhelming.
If you are processing difficult emotions from a relationship breakdown or even the bereavement of your former partner, finding time to do so alongside single parenting can be quite a challenge.
If you have just broken up with someone with whom the relationship was not working, you might experience an initial sense of relief to have finally moved away from struggles and conflict. Things as a single parent may even feel easier initially in comparison because you have a lot more freedom to make all the decisions and may even feel like you have one less child to parent!
Create pockets of time
It is important that you do create pockets of time, no matter how small, where you can just come back to yourself and check in with how you are feeling, how your stress levels are and what you are needing. Letting your kids know that you do have a limit in terms of how much you can give out is essential. It doesn‚Äôt have to be done in a heavy serious way, you can make light of it, but still hold firm boundaries about ways in which you are and are not prepared to parent.
Connect with others
It can be very helpful to connect with other single parents simply because they can empathise so easily with your situation and will know the pitfalls and some of the solutions to them.
Creating strong links with other parents in similar situations will also open up the opportunity to swap childcare. Let go of any ideas about it not being ok to ask for support and help with parenting. Children benefit hugely from diverse influences so if your kids can have the chance to spend time with their grandparents or other friends or family members, do what you can to support it to happen.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, be as kind to yourself as you can. It’s not really a human possibility to be both mum and dad to children, so know that you are doing your best and that given support, you and your family will find their way through in creative and surprising ways.