Some people are single parents right away. Some people become single parents after being married for a while then becoming divorced or widowed. Either way you become a single parent, you have to make big adjustments.
You need certain things in your single parent arsenal to be a better one. Because, let's face it, being one isn't easy. Some days go really well. Some days go really bad. An unexpected bill, a misbehaving child, a broken washer, or that phone call from the school can just make you want to pull the covers over your head!
After being a single parent for almost ten years, these ten things are completely necessary for me to survive and thrive as a single parent. I am not offering these ten pieces of advice out of arrogance. I have learned all ten of these things the hard way which is how I learn most of the time.
10 Things A Single Parent Needs
1. A way to keep your sanity in a healthy way. Develop some hobbies. Get some exercise. Find something that calms you, helps you blow off steam, and is healthy for you. Being a parent is wonderful, but sometimes you just need to clear your mind for a few minutes.
2. A planner/calendar. Or both. I write down what is coming up and I write down what I did. I do not remember when I cleaned out the gutters last time or cleaned out the chicken coop. I need some thing that I can go back and look at. I have tried to live without a planner for a year. It wasn't pretty.
Write down every event that is happening on your calendar for you and your family to look at. You will have a much better time keeping your sanity if your family and you know what is going on at all times!
3. Reliable transportation. Having a good vehicle that gets you to where you need to go is crucial. I used to live in an apartment complex in a small town almost 20 years ago. Some of the apartments had single mothers living there with no transportation. I couldn't even imagine. They were dependent on their families and friends for rides to next town for groceries and whatnot. That just baffled me and drove home the lesson that a dependable, decent car is a necessity.
4. Food storage. Having a full and complete pantry with some food storage on the side will make your life easier. Supper times will be less of a struggle. That last minute request for cookies will not seem so bad. When you aren't able to get groceries for a week, that food storage will save you.
5. A budget and savings. You need to know where your money is going and why. You need to set limits and think of the future at the same time. You need to make sure you have money for the whole month, not just the first two weeks. A budget is crucial. Having money in savings is important for those future unexpected and expected expenses. Sit down and starting being honest about your money and where it is going.
6. A community of people to help you. Being a martyr and trying to do it all yourself is silly. Gather yourself a group of people that you can absolutely depend on and start asking for help when you need it. Have two kids going in two directions? Ask a friend or grandparent to help get one kid to their destination. It isn't a bad thing to ask for help.
7. A job. You need to make your own money. Do not rely on child support, the government, or alimony to take care of you and your kids. It could all be gone tomorrow. You can work at home or away from home, but find some way to make your own money if you are not already.
8. Ability to be frugal. Now is the time to choke your pride and start living the frugal good life. You don't need to buy new everything. Your kids and you do not need every little thing you want. Learn to say no to yourself and get some self-discipline.
You will thank yourself when you still have money at the end of the month.
9. A toolbox and tools. You will need these more than you will ever know. You will find it easier to fix your own stuff than to pay the handyman to fix your things. YouTube videos show a lot of useful information on how to fix your stuff as well as the library having some great DIY resources. It is time to learn some skills and fix your own stuff.
10. A working relationship with the other parent and/or grandparents. I know this is hard because I didn't have this for several years. He and I are still not really good in this area. I wish we were because this would make my kids' lives so much easier.
For your kids' sakes, you need to put aside the anger, the hurt feelings, the frustrations, the accusations, and the sadness. Your kids need you both to be in their lives (unless they would be in danger) and you both need to put aside your selfishness for that reason. The kids really do suffer without both parents in their lives and that can lead to other problems. Try to put aside your differences and get along for them.
Being a single parent can be hard, but these ten things can life as one a lot easier. If you are one, what would you add to the list?
Thanks for reading,