Living With a Single Parent

If you live with one parent, you know that a lot of other kids do, too. More than 20 million kids in the United States live with one parent. Separation and divorce are the most common reasons for this. In other cases, the mom and dad may never have lived together, or one of them may have died.

Living with one parent instead of two can bring out a lot of emotions. These feelings can be pretty strong, and they can be confusing, too. You might feel terribly sad and angry because your parents divorced.

via Living With a Single Parent.

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Finding Time for YOURSELF

 As a single parent, we learn the old ways of doing “life” no longer work; we have to modify our BUDGET as it relates to money, time and energy. Where before we shared responsibilities and duties, NOW we become mother, father, cook, taxi driver, bargain shopper and baby sitter. We sometimes don’t get to greet ourselves until our children are asleep, and even then we are too tired to notice who we are when we look in the mirror. So what do we do? 

How do we find time for ourselves – our relationship to US. You know the drill. The airlines use it…”Ladies and gentlemen, please place the mask over your mouth first and then on your children”. It’s the same old thing for us now. Until we take care of our needs, we’re no good to anyone else. If mommy and daddy aren’t happy….no one’s happy. 

So first we need to find the time for ourselves within our time management budget. Then, we need to know the shortcuts in our time allotment – for the essentials, for shopping for helping with homework, and for schlepping to sports events and piano recitals. I’m a big believer in the Buddy System – so anyone on our single parenting ship (be sure it’s not the Titanic) can be our buddy as far as a “baby sitting club” (taking turns so everyone has a life) and co-op shopping (buying large and splitting the tenders) and just plain emotional support. 

This helps us keep going and adds to our time management budget. It’s like having a life jacket  in the shark infested post-divorce murky waters. We need the support. And, we deserve it after what we have been through! So pat yourself on the back and know you are not alone. Sometimes being creative is all it takes. 

It becomes a formula of imaging the end result and then moving backward into the steps that get us there. It’s in the creative thinking and the addition of supportive groups (or a buddy system) that we find peace and a piece of our single parent sanity. Just knowing we are not alone and that others have walked this journey before us – leaving bread crumbs for us to follow makes us feel safe and secure in the knowing we can survive and prosper as a single parent!

Joint Custody (IE: Sharing the Children)

The hardest thing about divorce can boil down to sharing your child with the ex. It can feel like a part of you is missing an arm, a leg — a piece (peace) of your heart. It’s a challenge for your child as well, and all we can do is love our child and ourselves enough to move through the feelings of loss and create a new way of being. It’s called “independence” from our old way of being, a restructuring and redesigning of the framework we held dear in marriage (if that’s where we came from).

What we can do, as single parents sharing custody, is be the best we can be while we have our children with us, and be the best we can be for ourselves when we’re sans children. In other words, learn to take care of our own selves once again. How do we do this? Are the methods stored somewhere in our cells? Can we actually learn to be women and men outside of our mother and father roles? Yes, I know we can and once we get the hang of it — we can start enjoying it too! And, so can our children. Children don’t want to feel guilty or sad when they leave us to go to the other parent’s house (that sad look on our faces doesn’t help their separation process either).

So, as we get used to and acquainted with, the new lifestyle we have, our children will also adapt and adopt new ways of living with the two parents they have. For those single parents who say goodbye to their children every other weekend, this may be less traumatic — but still an issue in letting go and an opportunity to create a life for oneself (whether it means a time to date, take up a hobby, travel, or read a good book).

Being a single parent is defined as being a multi-tasking responsible parent in today’s world and being a single adult in this new millennium, neither of which are no small feat. Don’t forget to get all the emotional support you can get by joining groups, networking with other parents, learning who is a single parent in your neighborhood or school district.

Remember, you were single before, try and tap into that memory (ouch) and recall where the solace was. Did you write, did you go out with other friends in your situation, did you exercise more, did you join a dating service? It’s important to treat yourself like you would your child when she is in need, take good care of YOU when you have the free time to do it. Your child will thank you for it when she sees how much happier you are.