5 Tricks To Make Your Single Parent Life Less Scary

Laura Lifshitz

By Laura Lifshitz | Oct 21st, 2018

Remember when you were a kid and every time you’d go trick or treating, you’d evaluate the homes and/or neighborhood you chose to go to? You knew from years past that certain houses had better candy, and certain neighborhoods had more people waiting to serve you candy. You’d also (if you weren’t a totally stubborn child) bring along a layer or two, knowing you’d want to be out as late as possible… but it might get much colder later. Let’s not forget the cool snap and break glow sticks you’d bring to light your way. Plus, you were smart to start candy negotiations early in the day, this way you could swap out stuff you didn’t want with your friends, who also had their own interests in mind.

There were so many little “tricks” you had up your young sleeves in order to make Halloween, the best ever, year after year.

Being a single parent is no different.

In order to have the best possible outcome, (peanut butter cups and Kit-Kats; no lollipops or sugar-free candies, please) you need to arm yourself with the best “tricks” so you can gather the most treats from the life you’ve made as a single parent. Here are a few I recommend keeping in your arsenal so that way you can have the sweetest life possible.

1.The Parent Time-Out

Too many parents, especially moms, think there’s no way they can say no to their kids or disappoint them for a minute. This means we often go and go as parents, without giving ourselves a break. This only serves to make us worse mothers.

Know when you’re feeling ready to snap, meltdown or get sick.

Know when you need to ask for a time-out. Know when you need to tell your kids, “I’m sorry but Mommy can’t do X, Y or Z as she had planned.”

This is the best trick you could ever employ to keeping yourself sane.

Just pull out the time-out card and request a break. You are the one in charge. You get to sit things out when you just don’t have it in you. It doesn’t make you a bad mother; it makes you a smart human for recognizing your needs and also, taking time to replenish them.

2.The Emergency List

It’s great if you have reliable family nearby, but even if you do, you need an emergency list with people offering various duties in order to really have that “village.”

Here is an example of my suggested emergency list:

If you had a partner, you’d have someone to fill in those gaps, but you don’t, and the reality is even for married parents, we all need a village. As a single parent, you just need more on-call help. Be wise to make relationships now and to also, offer something of yourself in return in exchange for such help and support. The reality is so many of us simply could benefit from other people offering their time. So, offer your time in exchange for these people being a part of your village.

As a single parent, you just need more on-call help. Be wise to make relationships now and to also, offer something of yourself in return in exchange for such help and support.

3.The Strategic Work Approach

Being a single parent makes the work-life a bit harder. You need more flexibility and also, need to bring in the income of two people, not just one.

If you don’t have a job with decent flexibility, keep hunting and searching for something that will provide that.

Also, if you can move to a place that offers more growth potential in your income, that’s great. However, to me, flexibility is even more key.

What can you do to make up that income gap?

4.The Pressure Valve

Stop pressuring yourself to do things in a set timeline. I am completely guilty of doing this to myself in terms of pressuring myself to be two people.

Don’t pressure yourself to be two parents, or meet the one and remarry in any shape or form.

This is the best advice I can give you.

You are one person and that’s ok. You’ll never be able to be two people at once, unless you have multiple personality disorder, in which case you’d be many people at once. And damn, wouldn’t that be tiring!

You’ll meet another person when the time is right. You don’t need to take on any substitute parents unless they’re really worth both your time and your children’s time. It is not a race and there is no set timeline as to when you could meet the right person.

5.The “Time Alone” Management

Whether you have your kids every day or half of the time, decide how you want any of your alone time to be filled.

Don’t sit there and allow yourself to be consumed with grief, worry or pain because you can’t envision being without your kids. Yes, it stinks. Yes, I still miss my daughter when she is gone, despite being used to divorce for many years.

However, I always have a game plan of how to take advantage of the very little free time that I have, and so should you.

If you don’t invest in yourself and your mental and emotional health, you are doing a disservice to you and your whole family. It is not selfish to be a complete and whole human being with interests who needs personal time.

No matter what, do not consider yourself a victim or a failure. These are your current circumstances and they can change in the blink of an eye. We all have journeys and life paths to follow, so enjoy your trip, appreciate the scenery, and grow from whatever pitfalls come your way.

Laura Lifshitz

Laura Lifshitz

Laura Lifshitz is a writer, comedienne, a former MTV VJ and Columbia University grad. Find her work in the NYTimes, Worthy, and other sites. Visit her at frommtvtomommy.com.


©2011-2024 Worthy, Inc. All rights reserved.
Worthy, Inc. operates from 25 West 45th St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10036