Facing the Challenges of Single Parenting
There are an enormous amount of challenges associated with single parenting.
Given that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, it would be impossible to discuss every challenge that each person feels.
However, most people will agree that there are a few aspects that tend to be universally frustrating to every single parent, regardless of gender, age, or education.
Issues Creating Financial Worries
In a world where it seems like almost every family has two incomes, it would be a rare single parent who didn’t, at least at times, worry about money. If you choose to work more hours at work, or take on a second job to increase your income, you will not be spending as much time with your children, and you may very well be looking at increased child care costs. For many single parents, especially if their children are young, working extra time simply does not make sense, financially or any other way.
Even when you’re on a really tight budget, it is important to make sure your children are feeling secure. In general, most child psychologists recommend not forcing children to worry about a parent’s ability to provide for them. However, when your child is at an appropriate age to understand, it can often be a good idea to let them know about your family budget. Until my daughters were teenagers, they never really knew we had less money than other families. Eventually, they noticed that we lived in a duplex and most of their friends lived in houses. When they started asking questions, it was time to explain the intricacies of a budget.
Not Enough “Me Time”
Practically every single parent has probably felt overwhelmed at the end of the day, or the end of the week. We don’t say it often enough, but let’s be honest . . . meeting every need that your child has, every day, can be incredibly draining. Single parents, whose children do not have regular visits with their other parent, feel this was more intensely and more often.
Even when it seems impossible, you have got to try to take a few minutes every day to relax. If it means putting your young children to bed 15 minutes early, or setting older kids up with a well-loved video so you can read a book or take a bath, that’s okay. Many years of being a single mom has taught me a lot, and one of those things is that if I don’t take care of myself no one else will either. And when I’m worn out and exhausted, who will be there to take care of my kids and pick up the slack?
Adequate, Affordable Childcare
Adequate, affordable childcare is the ultimate goal of every working parent. But for the working single parent, it is even more important. On one hand, we need to know that the people who care for our kids while we are gone can be trusted and will make good choices. On the other hand, we have to be able to afford to pay those people. It can be difficult to find childcare that will meet all of those qualifications.
Then, of course, we need to figure out what to do when we’ve got a sick kid. Once they go into daycare or school, and are around other kids, kids will get sick. And they may get sick pretty often, regardless of how much the daycare encourages hand-washing. The obvious result of that is that you will get unexpected phone calls to come get them, and you may not be able to leave work every time they call. Therefore, it’s important to either have a flexible job with an understanding boss, or have someone you can call who can occasionally pick up your child.
Not Enough Time In The Day To Do Everything
A full time job, family activities, kid’s activities, and the obvious cooking and cleaning can mean that there is simply not enough time to do it all. Since you probably can’t limit your working hours, and you probably can’t afford a housekeeper or chauffeur, it may well be best to prioritize. I have found myself using the laundromat on a Saturday, just because I could get five loads of laundry done at the same time. For years, I also made a big meal for dinner one night and we ate leftovers the next night.
Find a routine and a schedule that works for you and for your kids. Perhaps your child could choose one or two extra-curricular activities to participate in, and that will save you some time (and money) as well.
Single parenting can be frustrating, tiring, and can make you re-think things you thought you knew. However, it can also be a wonderful, freeing experience . . . one that allows you to form closer relationships with your children and appreciate your independence every day.
A Guide for Single Mothers
The author of this article understands the challenges of single parenting and has a passion for helping other single moms who are enduring hardships or are facing challenges along the way.
Lindsay has over 13 years of experience in area of single mom financial aid.
Find facts, information, and other useful single mom guides at Lindsay’s blog > GrantsForSingleMother