Being a parent is tough for a myriad of reasons; the pressure to keep all the proverbial balls in the air can be huge, and when you're going it alone, it's not uncommon to undermine your own confidence with doubt.
But fear not solo-venturers — there are challenges ahead, but there are also surprisingly simple solutions to managing your familial situation, and flourishing in the future.
Combat feelings of loneliness and isolation by creating community — a network of other solo parents can help accomplish daily challenges. Don't limit yourself to only singles — building a community of kindness can truly be just that: parents helping parents, people helping people.
Parenting expert Alyson Schafer suggests looking for positivity.
"Populate your family's world with wonderful role models, mentors, aunts and uncles, best friends and others who really step up and have your back," she tells HuffPost Canada. "They need to breathe energy and encouragement into the family and take some of the weight off your shoulders. Who do you have that says, 'You got this thing! And we got you!'?"
Populate your family's world with wonderful role models, mentors, aunts and uncles, best friends and others who really step up and have your back.
However you choose to do it, creating your own network of caring individuals can really pick up the slack, and strengthen your sense of connectedness.
Know your worth
Chances are if you're a single parent, you've been through some sort of character-building life experience where your worth may have been questioned. Pile a bunch of looming doubt with a side helping of guilt on top of that and it's no wonder that even at the best of times we can feel our self-confidence waning.
But here's the thing: you need to know that you, even by yourself, especially by yourself, are enough.
To all you single parents out there, re-read this when necessary, recite it to yourself in the mirror before work, before bed, before you pick up the kids from school: YOU ARE ENOUGH. Say it with me: I AM ENOUGH.
You are more than enough, in fact. Your children are nourished and happy and love you more than they might tell you (especially if they're in their teens). It doesn't matter if the laundry is piled up and it doesn't matter if the floor is clean enough to eat of off. (Side note, the floor is always clean enough to eat off of; the five-second rule is perpetually in effect when you have kids!)
Know your worth. Know your mantra. Repeat, repeat, REPEAT.
Ask for help
We know, we know, you don't want to be a burden right? And you feel bad asking for help because somehow it means that you can't handle things on your own. Truth is, the challenge of single parent-dom is that we are already down one team player and our support network is considerably smaller too.
Asking for help isn't a sign of failure or some indication that you can't handle what life throws at you. In fact, acknowledging your limitations means you're getting your s*%t together. It means you're in tune with yourself as a person, which actually helps make you a better parent.
"Feeling stressed, worn out or burned out can make parenting feel even more overwhelming. Taking some 'you' time to recharge is essential for balancing you and your kids. Doing this and asking for help from others shouldn't be looked at as a weakness but a strength," says behavioural consultant Jennifer Frigault.
Taking some 'you' time to recharge is essential for balancing you and your kids. Doing this and asking for help from others shouldn't be looked at as a weakness but a strength,Jennifer Frigault
So by all means reach out. Ask your nice neighbour if they can watch your kid for 20 minutes while you take a walk around the block.
Stop comparing yourself to two-parent households
In this age of social media and curated perfection, it's hard not to sigh wistfully at filtered snaps of kids with two parents, but your little family of two or three or however many there are, with you single parenting at the helm, is perfect just as it is.
Yeah, maybe you have to carry all the bags, do all the laundry, make all the meals and often earn all the income, but two parents don't necessarily mean the work is evenly divided. The grass may seem greener, but at least in single parent land your grass is not littered with someone else's socks.
The key is not to compare yourself at all. Sure, take tips and find inspiration, but all you need to measure a job well done are those sweet little snores when the end of the day finally comes!
Taking time out for yourself after you've had kids seems to continually slip further and further down the list of priorities. But taking care of you (mom or dad!) becomes more important now than ever.
As Schafer notes, "(Self-care) doesn't mean you are winning the lottery and going to Cancun. It's about thinking consciously in your own mind's eye about how to be kind and gentle to yourself... Perhaps popcorn and a Netflix binge could be reframed as 'how I show I am my own best friend any day of the week' time."
Nourishing your spirit within your means is just as vital as nourishing your body by eating good food. Don't think twice about whether your energy would be better spent elsewhere (i.e. tending to your minis), as long as they are safe and cared for.
The more you replenish your own energy, the better equipped you are to extend that same energy outward, and at the end of the day, figuring out how to care for you while raising your little ones is what matters most.