10 Ways to Reduce Single-Parent Stress
By Laura Broadwell
One of every four American children today lives in a single-parent home. And though the circumstances may vary (some parents are divorced, others are widowed, and others are single parents by choice), the reality is that solo parenting is often stressful, demanding, and hectic. If you are a single mom or dad, there are 10 things you can do to help minimize the stress in your life -- and bring back the joy of parenting.
Get a handle on finances: Raising a family on one income, or relying on an ex-spouse for child support, can be one of the hardest aspects of parenting alone. That's why it's important to take steps to budget your money, learn about long-term investments, plan for college and retirement, and, if possible, enhance your earning power by going back to school or getting additional job training.
Set up a support system: All single parents need help -- whether it's someone to watch the kids while you run out to do errands or simply someone to talk to when you feel overwhelmed. While it's tempting to try to handle everything alone, ask friends and family members for help. You could join a single-parent support group, or, if finances allow, hire a trusted sitter to help out with the kids or someone to assist with housework. Read More
Your Single Parenting Dilemmas, Solved
By Kate Bayless
Single parents wear lots of different hats: chef and chauffeur, breadwinner and bread buyer. Balancing the responsibilities of single parenting can lead to unique challenges. Never fear! We've gathered your most common single-parenting dilemmas and brought them to our panel of experts. Read on to find real-world solutions to your most pressing problems.
Dilemma: I work full-time and spend my non-working hours running kids to and from practices and games and trying to fit in basic errands. I feel like I never get quality time just to hang out with my kids!
Solution: "Focus on quality over quantity, says Kate Roberts, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and family therapist in the Boston area. "Choose two to three points of time during the day to connect with your kids such as at breakfast, dinner, and tuck-in." You don't need to play dolls or kick the soccer ball around for an hour. Shorter activities, such as playing a card game or coloring a picture, can take just a few minutes of your time while building a bond with your child. Seth Meyers, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, recommends designating family time each week. "Have your kids help give the time a name like Fun Club," Dr. Meyers says. Choose non-electronic activities (no cell phones-this means you too!) and instead do something around the neighborhood. "The point is to talk, connect, and make lots of good eye contact," Dr. Meyers says. Read More
The Single Mom's Survival Guide
If you're splitting up, you need to help your kids (and yourself) make it through the rough stuff.
by Meagan Francis and Ilisa Cohen
Life After Divorce
When my sons, Jacob and Isaac, were just 3 and 1, my husband and I separated. As a child of a divorce, I'd always sworn that I'd never put my kids through that -- yet as it turned out, living paycheck to paycheck and trying to do our own growing up while raising a family proved to be too great a strain on our marriage: It bent, cracked, and finally broke.
I flew through the first couple of months after our separation in an adrenaline-powered blur. But things like finding a place to live and paying for it all by myself, taking care of almost all the day-to-day parenting of two small children, and trying to find a job when I'd been out of the workforce since college terrified me. I felt like a flake -- not a strong, capable mother who was going teach her children to succeed despite the obstacles ahead.
Single Moms Need a Tribe
When I was married, we were just like all the other families: our own tiny self-sufficient universe. Even if my husband and I didn't get along, we were both still deeply invested in the minutiae of running our family. Then one day, my best friend and co-parent was gone from my life. Though I had always paid lip service to the "It takes a village" idea, it turned out that, while there might have been some "village" people out there, we had been too wrapped up in our own lives to get to know them.
It really hit me one Friday night. I was driving through a bad snowstorm with my little boys. What if our car skidded off the road into a ditch? Would anyone notice? Okay, that was an exaggeration -- but it's how it felt at the time, and it prompted me into action. I decided to check in every night with another single mom. Then I made a conscious effort to invite friends over for dinner, ask a neighbor to help me move my couch, and chat with the other moms at drop-off. Slowly, my sense that I had a contagious disease lifted, and I found myself expanding my definition of what makes a family. "It's crucial to explain to children that family is defined by people who love us and whom we feel really close to," says M. Gary Neuman, Parents advisor and author of Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way. Read More