by Wendy Mackay
Any single parent will agree there’s a lot of responsibility as the custodial parent raising children. At times it feels impossible and too often unappreciated, but when all is said and done the rewards far outweigh the challenges. I’m here to offer ideas, tried and true techniques and emotional support on your journey of parenting.
Depending on your financial situation you may or may not be able to afford help. You may have friends and relatives, or perhaps your ex-spouse to take on certain tasks that allow you enough freedom to enjoy some relaxation that re-charges your soul. Everyone is different and has different wants and needs. Know your limits and try to balance your needs so you can keep mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually centered. Fatigue has a way of snowballing and creating havoc!
Routine definitely helps to maintain balance but I believe we can all agree it’s not always easy to stay on task. Just when you feel aligned with routine something crops up to show you contrast and challenge you. Learning to take these cliches ‘in stride’ could depend on your past experiences, personality traits or 101 other things. If you can find coping strategies you’ll discover more happiness and less struggle.
Throughout the articles on this site are numerous posts with ideas to support single parents dealing with daily life challenges. I invite you to read and leave a comment. Today I have a few suggestions that may or may not help you with specific duties, chores or difficulties while raising younger children, and perhaps even teens.
Networking with other parents. We hear a lot about networking and social media online. How much do you network locally with other parents in your area? Ask questions. Find out what other single parents need and aren’t getting, what their strengths are, and what they’d like help with. See if you can make an exchange that could benefit you while helping them. It could be an exchange of child-care to save babysitting costs. It could be an exchange of services like cleaning for grocery shopping, baking treats in exchange for preparing casserole or freezer dinners, walking a dog or pet-sitting in exchange for child-sitting. Use your imagination and be creative. Perhaps you have a talent for cake decorating, home decor, sewing or meal preparation and could use help with window washing, vacuuming or after school daycare. You may discover you start a movement!
Organize one Saturday per month and get together with another parent while the kids play and jointly make double batches of pasta, casseroles, pizza, or whatever your specialty is. Kids can enjoy learning about other ethnic foods and experience a variety in meals too. Bake cookies, brownies, cakes or prepare snack packs for lunches and save by buying bulk with another parent.
Perhaps you have a work skill that another parent needs help with and you can arrange a barter.
Car pool, but always be aware of insurance and competence of other drivers.
Exchange a weekend to allow one another the opportunity to get away or simply have a late night out without an early morning wake-up.
Parents, whether single or not are very receptive to helping and receiving a fair exchange of service. It can be fun for everyone!
In any exchange, like hiring a contractor, you want to think out and prepare. Express your expectations and be sure you feel completely aligned with one another before entering into any agreement. Depending on the exchange you may want references, and/or a written contract that clearly lays out the agreed upon terms. Always have contact information, medical information and any other necessary documentation. Make short term agreements to try out and agree to re-assess together before proceeding.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you burn out as a parent you suffer and so do your children. Life will present interesting challenges. Try to think of any scenario that could present itself and know with certainty what resonates with you. If your intuition says don’t, then don’t. You are a deliberate creator and have choices in all situations. Only you know yourself well enough to know how you feel and what feels right for you.
I’d love to hear your sincere comments, suggestions and ideas. I’d also love to have you join me on facebook @ divorce renovator.