How to Get Through the First Year as a Single Parent (About.com - Single Parents)
If you’re newly single, you probably have a lot of questions, and you may be unsure of where to begin. These practical suggestions will help get you started and keep you on the right path.
Time Required: One Year
- Develop a Support Network
This is absolutely crucial. You need to know who you can depend on right now. Most likely, this network includes your immediate family and friends, but think about other people in your life who might also help you. Making an actual list of who these people are can help remind you that you're not alone. In addition, consider joining a formal support group for single parents.
- Ask for Help
This is one of the most difficult things to do. But there are people around you who would love to help! Keep in mind that allowing others to help you is a gift to yourself and to the person assisting you. Sharing in one another’s lives during difficult times affirms our human connection and brings a sense of purpose to everyday living.
- Schedule Time to be Alone
Time is a very powerful tool. It will bring you healing, hope, and perspective. Right now, it’s important that you create pockets of time in your life when you can just be. Time when you’re not accountable for completing a task or responding to questions. Time to sit, to think, to ponder.
- Think Outside the Box
If finding time to yourself sounds impossible, consider some creative solutions, like swapping babysitting time with a neighbor or waking up a half-hour before the rest of your household. The time that you give yourself is precious, and it will be fruitful in helping you to establish reserves of inner strength.
- Be Present with Your Kids
When you're with your children, make an effort to be emotionally present with them. It would be easy to retreat into your heart right now, but this is a time when your children truly need you more than ever. Simple activities like playing a board game or taking a walk together can go along way toward communicating the message that life will go on and they will, indeed, be okay.
- Get the Facts About Your Situation
You might be tempted to make quick decisions right now about where to live and how to handle your finances. However, ignorance in this area can be extremely dangerous, and so can making rash, uninformed decisions. For now, take the time to find out where you stand financially. Gather the necessary papers in order so that when you are emotionally ready to make changes, you'll be prepared and able to make informed decisions.
Expressing your feelings is important to your overall health. Consider writing in a journal or scheduling a regular "date" with a friend to vent, cry, and grieve. Single parents are born of many different situations. Whether you've experienced the loss of a spouse, the end of a marriage, or an adjustment to the dream you once held for your life, it is important to grieve and process the loss before moving on.
- Pay Attention to your Physical Health
This may be a time when you are feeling especially worn down and drained. Combat that by making the effort to eat healthy foods and choose energizing ways to fuel your body. Instead of relying on extra caffeine, try taking a walk at lunchtime. Additionally, getting adequate rest is crucial to your healing and ability to cope. Forgo the temptation to sit in front of the TV. Instead, read a book and retire early.
- Identify What Gives You Strength
In the past, how have you handled challenging times in your life? What most energizes you and reminds you that you possess the strength needed to meet the current challenge? Focus on what has worked for you in the past.
- Let Go of What Isn't Working
Likewise, let go of what has not worked for you. As you move through this first year, reflect on the habits and choices that have not served you well, and decide to change them. In addition, if there are things from the past that you cannot change, let go of unhealthy guilt and remorse.
- Focus on the Positive
This is a time of new growth in your life. Take the time to think about the things that are going well for you. Having a positive attitude - even in the midst of extreme circumstances - can empower you to move ahead and provide your children with a tangible example of the coping strategies you want them to adopt.