The first 18 years of parenting can be exhausting. Feedings, baths, naps, school, dinner and extra-curricular activities can leave parents searching for a few extra hours in the day. Even those in a two-parent household can collapse at the end of the day from sheer fatigue. If parenting is hard for two, then a single parent may think that he or she has no chance of making it. Some moms and dads may find themselves in the role of single parenthood for a season in their life and wonder how to navigate through being the sole caretaker of one or more children. The answer to raising children alone is organization and time management.
Time management is very important if you are a single parent. Even if your bout as a single parent is a short one, effectively managing your time will go a long way in relieving stress. When my husband deployed to Afghanistan, I found myself caring for a four, five and six month old alone. Meeting the needs of our children was priority, but I also knew that I needed to meet my own needs in order to be a good parent.
Laura Markham, clinical psychologist, suggests single parents be proactive, not reactive. This means anticipating your child’s needs and meeting those needs before a major meltdown. Single parents can avoid the pitfalls of a hungry, anxious or tired child by creating routines. Building a schedule that incorporates things such as work, school and extra-curricular activities can help the day run smoothly. If a mom or dad knows that Monday evening is dance class day, then he or she can use this time to run errands, spend time with another child or take a much needed nap. Giving every activity a time slot can help parents plan without over extending themselves.
Shiva Rose, writer and blogger, notes the importance of asking friends and family for help. Knowing that you have a support system can also help single parents manage time. Having a friend or relative available can give you the opportunity to carve out alone time. Single parents may forget during the course of the day to plan to have their own time. Everyone needs time to rejuvenate and time management can give you the hours or minutes to do so. Plan for a monthly day where your child can go over to a relative’s house or have a friend or sitter come over to watch your child so you can treat yourself to your favorite activity. Single parenting can be tiresome but with time management, parents can create predictability and routine for their child and themselves.