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7 Tips from the Single Mom’s Parenting Handbook

A woman holding a child

Going through a split, separation, or a divorce is a difficult time.  Not only is it heartbreaking, but it can affect you  mentally and physically as well. When children are involved, the issues are even more complicated. 

In many cases, mother’s are the primary custodial parent. While this has began to change with many instances of dad’s having custody or joint custody, this article is geared to mom’s who have primary custody. Let’s explore a few parenting tips for single moms:  

1. Don’t Be too Hard on Yourself

Too often mothers feel guilty after the split as they start believing they could’ve tried harder to make the relationship work. However, it takes two to tango and one person shouldn’t carry all the blame. There are many reasons for leaving a relationship and you and you alone know that you made the best choice for you and your children. Single moms need to forgive themselves for ending a relationship and focus on making things better for their children from that point forward. Also, no parent is perfect. As mothers, you may make a few parenting mistakes (we are only human), so instead of being hard on yourself, try and focus your energy on your kids.

2. Communication 

Spliting a household can be hard on kids. They may need more of your attention than before.  Or, for some, they may shut you out.  Having an open door policy, talking with your kids while doing something else, such as on the drive to school, riding bikes, playing video games, going out for ice cream, allows for an open flow of communication. Taking a trip out of town,  or spending the day doing something fun that the kids want to do can be thereputic for your family. At the same time realze you are not a counselor and if serious issues arise you may need the help of a professional.  

3. Seek Help from Others

You don’t have to be on this journey alone. Raising your kids is a huge responsibility, and asking for help from your close friends and family is perfectly acceptable. If family lives nearby their help can be invaluable. Try to set up a schedule so that you can take a break! Use the time, even if it’s a hour or two, to read a book, newspaper or magaize, take a walk, go have coffee with your BFF, or anything else that brings you joy.  

4. Don’t Let Judgment Get to You

A split or a divorce may be subject to controversy or a scandal. Some people will gossip, assume things, put labels on your relationship, and possibly  interfere in your business. However, it’s important for you not to give in to such petty gossip for your own mental health. It was your relationship, and for whatever reasons were involved, it ended. If you don’t want to discuss it, it isn’t anyone’s business. Just focus on moving on and raising your kids – as they are your priority. 

5. Start or Join a Shared Parenting Group

A shared parenting group is a group of friends that take turns doing childcare for each other. Often a point system is created so if you have three kids and someone else has two, it ends up being fair to all. Each hour and each child is one point. You watch someone elses 3 children for 3 hours, you earn 9 points. Another parent on another day watches your 2 children for 4 hours and you still have a 1 hour credit left over for next time. The pont system is just one possibility, talk with your friends, brainstorm what would work for your group.  

6. Take Care of Yourself

Mothers are so hard-working and amazing that they often forget to take care of themselves. To be a great mother to your kids, you need to be mentally and physically  present. That is why you must take care of yourself. If the laundry or the dishes aren’t done, its ok, spending time on yourself or doing something fun with your kids is important too. Don’t over-burden yourself and constantly work around the clock. You’re human too, and you need to relax and recharge to be healthy.  So, take a day off every now and then, and spoil yourself by going to the spa or watch a movie. Plan a day with your girlfriends and do whatever you want to, to feel more alive and present. It’s okay to pamper yourself once in a while and recharge your batteries.  

7. Form a Structure and Set Limits

Create a routine and new rituals. Children crave structure. Establish regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes. Read to your kids before bed. Decide before saying no if you are really willing to enforce no. Saying no and then letting a bad behavior go reduces your parenting credibility. 

Conclusion

While it is tempting to try to be a superhero mom, remember you are human. Reach out, accept help from others and embrace your children. It takes a village!

Don’t let physical distance come in the way of a great relationship you can share with your child.

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