How to parent alone or solo-parent
Parenting is difficult. Trying to parent alone can be more than overwhelming. I know there are many points of view, but after parenting my kids completely on my own for 10+ years, I believe that no one was meant to parent alone. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but one parent will have a much more difficult time than a parent with a supportive spouse.
No matter the circumstances, if you do find yourself solo-parenting, here are some suggestions to help you be successful:
Provide the basics
If a child’s basic needs aren’t being met, it’s difficult for them to focus on anything else. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that our very basic needs (food, water, warmth, and rest) need to be met before anything else.
If you’re in survival mode, it is nearly impossible to focus on anything else. If you are at a stage where you are struggling to meet these needs, please find help.
Stay in control of your finances
Your finances can affect every area of your life. Being in control of your finances will allow you to focus on other things that need your attention.
Figure out what you need to do to take control of your money. Do you need to find a job? a higher paying job? cut down on bills/expenses?
Think ahead and stay one step ahead of the game. If you keep the necessities with you, you’ll be able to avoid several awkward situations.
Don’t wait until you’re drowning. Do what you can to fix things before you’re in over your head.
Find time to consistently take care of yourself. Self-care doesn’t always mean taking a nap, or finding time for a bubble bath. Self-care is getting real with yourself and doing what you and your family need most. It is really taking care of yourself in the most common, every day ways.
Don’t get me wrong, if you do need a bubble bath, take the time that you need to relax, but be honest with yourself. Recognize what your soul truly needs. Are you using the bubble bath or nap as a way to hide from the real issues?
Maybe a more appropriate activity would be to work on improving your finances to lessen the stress, find the time to make your family a healthy meal each night, or enforce boundaries and rules in your home. You can also get more self-care tips here.
Keep your children safe
Make sure that you and your kids are safe. In order to thrive, kids and adults need to feel safe and secure. Your kids need to know that you’ll always be there for them. They need to know that you, as their parent, will do everything you can to protect them.
Set boundaries with your children. Make sure they understand the rules and are clear about expectations.
You should also set boundaries with others in your life. This will allow you to better care for your own family. It is also a healthy way to show your kids an example of what this looks like.
Keep your life as drama free as possible. By keeping your life as low-stress as possible, you’ll be able to focus on giving your kids what they really need.
Build your support system
This is probably the most important thing you can do for your family. Building your support system will pay off over and over throughout your life.
Having supportive friends and family around you will help manage feelings of loneliness. You will also have people to call when you need help. Your kids will also benefit by having healthy relationships and connections in their life.
Keep your relationship between you and your kids as positive as possible
Respond to your children positively. Respect them and teach them to respect you (and others). In order to thrive, kids to feel like they belong and that they are loved. Make a point each day to show them that they are valuable and important.
Pay attention to your children
Monitor what they are doing online and in real life. Pay attention to sudden mood swings or changes in their behavior. Make sure that you are available to them when they need support or help with struggles in their lives.
Be the parent. So many of us feel guilt due to our situation and it’s so easy to start babying your older children out of guilt. You need to be the parent. Especially if the other parent is out of the picture.
In this case, you are all that your child has and even though most won’t admit it, they need a parent to take charge. They need you. They need a parent to discipline and set boundaries- this is how they feel safe.
Be a leader
Lead them and be a good role model in their life. Teach them by example to be confident and stand up for themselves no matter what situation they are in. T
his includes being vulnerable while being brave enough to admit any faults or mistakes. Also, let them see you show compassion to others and themselves.
Be active in your kids life
Participate in events at your child’s school. Show pride in their accomplishments. We all want to be noticed. We all want to know that someone cares. Show your kids that you support them and be there for them through the good and the bad.
Make sure that you’re also spending quality time with your kids. Get down on the floor and play with them. Show them that you’re happy to be with them. Have fun and laugh with them.
Help your kids find their purpose
Help them find and grow their talents. Who doesn’t feel good about success and accomplishment? I’m not talking about participation trophies, but actually focusing on finding things in their lives that they excel in and building on that. Or productively build on weaknesses so that they can see the improvement in their lives.
Following each of these points will help guide your children to become productive and healthy adults. I know that we can easily get stuck on the short-term solutions, but it’s important to think long-term while parenting. You’ll definitely have set backs.
Maybe every day will feel like nothing went right, but you always have tomorrow to start again. Don’t procrastinate, but forgive yourself for any mistakes. Each time you feel discouraged, get back up and try again.
I would love to hear your tips on parenting- especially if you have or you are parenting solo. How did you survive parenting alone? How were you successful at single parenting?
**This post is the fifth of a 7 month Single Moms 101 series “Secrets of a Successful Life” by Single Mom Bloggers that I am working on with a few other single mom bloggers. We will each be writing monthly about topics that affect single moms directly.
Subscribe to my Single Mom Series Email List for reminders of the series and other tips on Surviving to Thriving as a single mom delivered straight to your inbox.
Tamara @ Empowered Single Moms says
Laurie, I love how you put parenting in context. I agree if basic needs are not met or we are super stressed it is hard to be present when with our kids.
I agree with developing a support system. I relied heavily on my mom when my kids were young. There’s a reason for the saying of “it takes a village.”
One thing I’m still learning as a single mom is to have fun around my kids. Not necessarily *with* them but around them.
My oldest recently told me that she can’t remember me laughing if it wasn’t because of her or her siblings. They don’t see me have fun or do things for fun outside of them.
I want my kids to see me have normal healthy emotions. They’ve seen me sad, and angry outside of them.. but happy? For some reason that’s harder.
Krystal Herrera says
I agree with these points. Thank you for sharing them and definitely worth the read. Cheers! 🙂