By Clay Morrison
Being a single parent can be a difficult time, especially when the child is very young. Not only is it tough for the parent to come to terms with the fact that their entire life has changed permanently, but it is also necessary to figure out exactly what being a parent consists of, what the best methods and techniques associated with raising a child are, and how some semblance of normality can be reacquired.
What are the facts?
Research carried out as part of the 2016 Census discovered that there are close to one million single-parent family homes in Australia. Estimates would suggest that this accounts for 14% – or one in seven – of all homes in which a child is resident.
This is something that very often slips under the radar, and so difficulties are often not discussed, and therefore difficulties can worsen.
Single parents can very often struggle to balance work, supporting their children, having a social life and ensuring that they have access to all of the necessary financial assistance that will get them from one month to the next. Financial worries are one of the main reasons that some parents end up staying together; in fact: 20% of those who decided against leaving their partner said they could not afford to separate (according to research from Direct Line).
So, with that in mind, what can single parents do to ensure they are able not only to cope with the early stages of their child’s life, but be in the best possible position to ensure they can live without unnecessary stress or burdens?
What are the challenges?
The main challenges associated with being a single parent are as follows:
- Increased levels of stress
- Added pressure to attain money
- Fatigue and general tiredness
- Finding appropriate childcare
- Social isolation
So, with that in mind, what are the key things that single parents should do to overcome struggles and difficulties?
1. Show love to your child, whatever you are going through
It is absolutely essential to constantly show your child that they are loved and will be cared for. Even if you are struggling with finances, or are working long hours, you need to do all you can to make your child feel safe and secure. This is, obviously, easier said than done, but it is absolutely vital.
2. Ensure that there is some kind of routine
All children need some kind of structure and routine in their lives, as do parents. By having schedules, by knowing what is likely to occur day by day, and by having meals and going to bed at a set time, you will be better able to plan ahead, and your child will be less likely to keep you awake at unconventional hours.
3. Refrain from feeling guilty
There is absolutely no benefit in condemning yourself for the situation you find yourself in, or for inventing reasons to belittle your parenting abilities; stay positive, and remind yourself that you are doing the very best that you can.
4. Look after your health
It can be very easy to experience burnout in the weeks and months following your child’s birth, so it is absolutely vital that you keep yourself in top condition. This means getting lots of sleep, drinking enough water, exercising, and eating properly. If you don’t look after yourself then you are liable to feel more stressed and tired.