People may find themselves heading up a single-parent family structure through any number of circumstances, from divorce to having children independently by choice. But regardless of how the journey began, everything from doctor’s visits to earning an income is a lot to juggle while providing the stable, nurturing environment children need.1
All too often, “time for yourself” is the first thing to go from single parents’ to-do lists. But evidence shows that parental mental health is even more important than family structure when it comes to raising well-adjusted children.2
If caring for yourself is part of caring for your child, these 6 essential tips will help you navigate single parenthood and parenting with confidence with balance and heart.
#1 You Don’t Need to Do it All
Is single parenting hard? It can be, but you can make it easier on yourself by managing your expectations.
No single parent can have a sparkling clean home, homemade dinner on the table, an 8-hour workday, and hair that’s seen shampoo within the past day…or three. Something has to give—and that’s perfectly fine.
Prioritize tasks in your single parent household that:
- Are important to your child’s health and happiness
- Are important to your health and happiness
- Let you spend time together
Mopping the kitchen floor, or an extra bedtime story? We say bedtime story, every time.
#2 Find Your Hidden Free Time
Time is the most valuable—and limited—resource a single parent has. To make the most of your downtime, follow these organizational steps:
- Create a weekly schedule using your calendar or a task management tool (e.g. Asana)
- Look for regular blocks of time spent sitting or waiting—your daily commute, school pick-up, waiting for the kids to get out of practice, and so on
- Plan a “double-duty” use for those times. You can listen to a self-care podcast during your commute, catch up on emails while waiting at practice, etc.
It may not sound like much, but 15 and 20-minute blocks of time can add up to significant time “savings” over the week, especially for single parent families.
#3 Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different
Whether it’s non-traditional living arrangements (like living with extended family, renting out a room, cohabiting with another single parent, or having a roommate), or simply reimagining holiday traditions, single-parent families thrive when they embrace their uniqueness and learn how to practice self acceptance.
Remember, your children don’t need to do everything the way a two-parent household does to be happy and healthy. Nurturing families come in all forms, shapes, and arrangements. Embracing what makes your single parent family structure different and unique can have a significant positive impact on your children.
#4 Seek Out a Flexible Workplace
These days, employers are discovering that employees do their best work when they’re given flexibility. You have more options than ever before to find work that fits your family’s needs.
If you’re working on balancing your demands from work and family, try talking to your employer about creative solutions like:
- Working a hybrid schedule with time split between the office and home
- Working later or earlier to coordinate with your child’s schooling schedule
- Switching over to a flex-time or part-time schedule
#5 Lean On Your Community
It takes a village to raise a child––whether in a single parent home or not––so don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends if you need extra support. If supportive relatives are in short supply, you can tap into:
- Local support groups – Your community center, church, or other local communities may have single-parent support groups. These provide a sense of community and allow single parents to share tips and advice (and occasionally, affordable child care!).
- School networks – Helping with school events can connect you to other parents in similar circumstances. You might be able to trade off school pick-up and drop-off days, or help each other with after-school care and playdates.
#6 Keep Self-Care On Your To-Do List
As a single parent, taking care of yourself might feel self-indulgent. But following the “airplane oxygen mask” principle, your well-being is also your child’s well-being.
Daily self-care be as simple as:
- Following a five-minute meditation video on YouTube
- Taking a walk around the block
- Taking a 20-minute bath before bed
- Spending 20 minutes on a favorite hobby
What It Means to Normalize Single Parenting
Normalizing a single-parent household means accepting that not all loving families fit the stereotypical family mold. In fact, fewer than half of children in the US will grow up with parents who stay married throughout their entire childhood—single-parent families are normal families, so embrace it!2
If you’re a single parent, it may help to be open with your children about what it means to be a single-parent family. When you model being comfortable with single parenthood, you help your children feel more secure and safe so they can navigate the world with confidence and resilience.
Support Your Single Parenting Journey With Slumberkins
We hope these single parenting tips can help you navigate through family life as a single father, single mother, or single parent. At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all handbook on how to be a single parent. It can certainly be challenging, but with the right resources for supporting your own well-being, you can savor those precious moments of connection with your child and build healthy parenting skills.
Slumberkins believes that emotional learning empowers both children and parents to thrive, no matter the shape of their family. That’s why we created a full range of books, snuggly characters, and educational resources that teach kids how to handle big emotions.
- "Child well-being in single-parent families." Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1 August, 2022.https://www.aecf.org/blog/child-well-being-in-single-parent-families
- Wasserman, Melanie. "The disparate effects of family structure." The Future of Children.Spring 2020.https://www.jstor.org/stable/27074975