When my sons were small, I worked hard at establishing habits that would make my life as a single parent easier. These strategies served me well when they were young, and I adapted them as they got older.
My kids are older now and I have the wisdom and perspective to see that, somehow, it all works. And when things don’t work, you tweak them. Don’t be bound by thinking you must live your life a certain way. In fact, you need to do what’s best for your family in a way that celebrates and appreciates everyone’s temperament. And when you are whirling through the days, remember to step back and take a mental snapshot now and again. This is your life, after all.
6 Tips for Single Parents:
1. Have a full gas tank.
I would always fill my car with gas when the tank fell below half full, so I’d never be racing to get somewhere and have to stop for gas.
2. Stay home on Friday night.
I tried my very best to keep Friday nights free to relax. That was what kept me sane because by the end of the week, I was severely depleted from five days of work, commuting, daycare drop-offs/pickups and endless errands. Friday night was pizza and root beer night, and being home meant the boys could stay up a bit longer telling stories in the dark with their flashlights. In turn, I could gratefully change into my sweats, plan out the weekend and finally, once they were asleep, have that “Congrats, you made it through another week!” celebratory glass of wine.
3. Make extra food and freeze it.
Saturday mornings were homemade pancakes, waffles, or French toast. I would double the recipe and freeze the extras, meaning there was always something for breakfast in the freezer, no matter how close it was to payday.
4. Plan simple meals and grocery shop accordingly.
Other things that made a big difference included meal planning and creating a grocery list to match it. Now, I really did not enjoy this task. But it was easier than standing in front of the cupboards with whiny, famished children tugging on me. I kept meals very simple and somewhat balanced. Having a good variety of quick foods on hand was such a relief at the end of the day.
5. Find ways to have time for yourself.
On the weekends, I had the boys take rest time after lunch, which was one hour in their rooms where they could nap or play quietly. Sometimes I’d push it as long as I could (which was pretty easy, since they couldn’t tell time, ha!), or I’d allow them the privilege of sharing rest time together. They’d work really hard to play cooperatively so they could have this special treat again and I had extra me time to do whatever.
6. Keep plans simple.
In the summer, we’d spend most of the day at a park or in our backyard. We soaked up the sun and ran through the sprinkler. We gardened and hung clothes on the line. It was a simple time in many ways. We stayed close to home much of the time. There wasn’t a lot of extra money, and my boys were so very curious that it was hard to keep track of two in public by myself.
I hope these tips for single parents help others who are trying to make it work. It’s not easy, but having some guiding principles and routines can really make a difference.