Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children;
now I have six children, and no theories.
Being a parent, especially a single one, is by no means easy. Many single parents are experiencing dangerous levels of stress, and they cannot see any clear way to get around it. Chronic stress is harmful to your body, mind and spirit. As a parent, you need to find some positive ways to deal with the stress so that you can remain healthy for both your children and yourself.
With a little bit of extra planning, help, and effort, you can better juggle being both the parent and provider of your family. Here are a few tips that may help you combat the everyday stresses of being a single parent:
1. Plan ahead. The best thing you can do when you are a single parent is to plan ahead. You will find that the simplest things in life that cause you a great deal of stress can be better managed or completely eliminated when you plan ahead.
Prepare a few meals in advance and freeze them until you are ready to use them.
Have everyone lay out their clothes the night before and place their shoes by the front door so getting the day started will be less of a chaotic footrace figuring out what to wear.
2. Involve the children. You cannot do everything by yourself! So get your children involved in getting things done. Any help that your children are able to contribute will save you a lot of time and stress each day. It will also help teach and demonstrate to them the importance of responsibility and contributing to the family.
Teach them age-appropriate tasks like cleaning their room, doing laundry, making the grocery list, planning meals, cooking, taking out the trash, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.
3. Know your limitations. When a friend, colleague, or family member asks something of you that you know you cannot do, say no. It may not make the other person happy, but knowing your limits can help you decrease the stress that comes with feeling overworked unnecessarily.
If you do not respect your time, who else will?
4. Get a support system. When you have people around that you know you can turn to and rely on, you will be better be able to release your stress in a more positive way. When you need a little bit of reinforcement, it helps to know you can pick up the phone and call for backup!
Your support system will hopefully consist of family members and friends who are willing to listen to you vent, or even help you around the house. They should also be people who can speak into your life, and you hear what they say.
5. Make time for yourself. Schedule at least 10 to 15 minutes just for you into each day. This time can even be for something simple, like doing your fingernails, taking a hot bath, or reading for pleasure.
Your alone time will refresh and revive you!
These are all very simple, yet effective, ideas about how to deal with the stress of being a single parent. Make no mistake. These tips will by no means do away with your stress altogether, but they can help you manage it in a way that will allow you to get things done and enjoy your life and children.
Remember that your children will only be small for a short time, and you don’t want to squander those years in a stressed out daze. Instead, take advantage of the here and now, the moment, by incorporating a few of these stress management tips into your life.