Single parents go through so much in life. In fact, they suffer more than anyone else when it comes to some things.
This post is an incredibly hard one to write for me, as I have struggled during married and being single. Although there were many issues during my marriage, obviously or I might still be married, there were less basic struggles. Single parents go through a whole other level of struggle and stress.
Unique struggles of single parents
Unlike others, single parents have problems that are a bit more difficult for them to figure out. I remember being on my own for the first time and realizing one big revelation: I had to become self-reliant for the most part.
There are many other unique struggles for single parents, and I can tell you what a few of them are.
When you’re married or in a relationship, travel duties can be split into two. While one of you can plan the sight-seeing agenda, the other one can list items to pack, for the both of you and the children. When you get to your destination, the two of you can feel secure knowing there is safety in numbers and feel there is more protection for your children.
Single parents, on the other hand, have to deal with all planning and packing by themselves, except for the small amount of help from their children. They also have to be the sole protector of their children when they are in a strange place.
Single parents usually don’t travel as much due to these facts, unless they have a friend willing to make the trip with them which can be a solution in some cases. Otherwise, you might want to do research beforehand and locate the vacation spots which are family friendly.
I know that everyone has feelings of guilt from time to time, but single parents feel this a bit more often. When you are single, you always feel guilty about any decisions made which don’t include your children. For example, if you go out with a friend, you feel guilty for excluding your children.
Who knows, you may even feel a certain amount of guilt for your part in the separation from the other parent. You could also feel guilty about not being able to afford some of the things they need or want. Guilt, while not exclusive to solo parent dynamics, is still much worse in this case.
One way to help you overcome guilt is to do more things with your children that make both of you happy. You don’t have to have lots of money to have fun with them. As far as doing things on your own, this is a pang of guilt you will just have to overcome with time.
It’s a no brainer to understand how finances are harder for single parents. Obviously, a household which includes both parents is more financially secure. Both parents can pay bills and buy things the children need at the same time.
While child support helps soothe financial issues, it cannot provide the same help with utilities and other individual household needs, and so there is a limit in this area.
Here are a few financial tips for the single parent: cut coupons, look for sales, get support from others, and keep a good relationship with the other parent. After all, they are also responsible for the children’s needs.
As far as household bills go, you can find many ways to reduce electricity bills and maybe even reduce home entertainment expenses.
If you were one to enjoy the nightlife, as some do, then as a single parent, it will almost disappear. Married couples have better opportunities to enjoy nighttime activities like going to parties, concerts, and even just having a drink with friends.
If they don’t go together, they can always take turns. You see, with a two-parent household, you can still go out alone sometimes, without the worry for a sitter or leaving your children without a parent. When you’re single, you cannot always depend on the other parent to step in for your social life.
More than likely, they won’t feel comfortable doing this all the time. When you are a single parent, your past nighttime activities will slow down dramatically, and you might even have to change your entire life and enjoy more daytime excursions… which usually include your children.
5. No more sleeping in…at least for a while
Remember those Saturdays when you could sleep until lunchtime? Yeah, you can forget about that as a single parent. There are no more weekends where parents take turns sleeping in. Now, you will be the only one up at the crack of dawn to change diapers, prepare breakfast and do all other needful things for your child.
Even if the child is older, they will still usually be up bright and early with needs. Just get used to it. There is one way to sleep in on the weekends with children, and that’s to keep them up a bit later at night. While this is not a foolproof way, it sometimes works.
When there were two parents in the home, decision making was easier. The reason was both parents could think things through, discuss the issues and then make a decision based on that criteria. They could also take any needed action based on the decision as well.
Single parents have a more difficult time making decisions. If the decision concerns something exclusively within the household, the single parent has to make the decision alone. This includes any consequences from that decision.
There will be decisions like which school your child will attend and when they are mature enough for new responsibilities. The good thing is, you can always ask friends and family for help in this area.
Everyone gets tired, but single parenting can drain you to the point of absolute exhaustion. Not only are you responsible for your own life, but you are also responsible for your children and their issues as well.
Even though the other parent may have joint obligations, what occurs in your home is your sole concern. There will be birthday parties, doctors appointments, school events, and many other stressful yet exciting situations. With one parent taking most of this responsibility, it can even seem almost impossible.
It’s true what they always say, “When they sleep, you sleep”. That’s right, the best way to get some rest is to take advantage of their rest times and make them your own. Even an extra hour will help.
In a household with two parents, sickness can seem difficult at times to handle. With only one parent, it can be overwhelming. Now, I’m not specifically talking about sick children. I am actually talking about when the single parent is sick.
When you, as a single parent, are sick, you also have to deal with your children’s needs at the same time. You also have to do these things without letting your children contract your cold or illness. Now, can you see how difficult this struggle can be?
One way to help in this area is to remember to eat a balanced diet, take vitamins and keep up to date on flu shots and check-ups. While this might not completely eliminate sickness, it could help a bit.
Single parenting can work!
Although these things may seem daunting, the single parent can navigate them. With the right help, you, as a solo provider can learn tricks and tips on how to excel at going alone. I know I did. It took some time, but before I knew it, I was in a pattern which seemed to work.
Sometimes the best advice is always to be humble enough to ask for help.
Before you throw in the towel, give it another try. Although single parenting may seem beyond your expertise, it’s all worth it! Good luck!
By Sherrie H.