Let's face it. Our lives as single parents can be challenging. We are deprived on so many levels — from sleep to sex to a social life — yet are under more pressure than ever to be Mary Poppins with a PhD in perfect child rearing.
The truth is that parenthood is tough on all of us. Here are some things I do, as a single mom by choice, to help me enjoy a balanced life.
Take advantage of your freedom
Enjoy the very real perks of your single parent status. Parent the way you want to parent. Breastfeed until your kid self-weans if that's your thing (it is mine.) Homeschool and work from home, or send your kids to public school. Take a trip to Paris, or move to another country, like I did.
Married couples have to compromise on everything, and it can be tough, even in the best of relationships. Sometimes they have to live in the boring suburbs or with condescending in-laws. You don't have any of these constraints.
When my kid was one-year old, I moved from Manhattan back to my hometown of Toronto. If I had been in a relationship, who knows if I would have been able to make that move? We now get to live near a dotting grandmother, benefit from socialized medicine and avoid the disaster that is Donald Trump.
Socialize and date
If you are a single parent, you are stuck at home, alone, after your kids go to bed. You don't have someone to cuddle and talk with at the end of the day. Maybe you've already tried calling a friend and taking a hot bath, but something is still missing.
Hire a babysitter once a week, don't feel guilty and go out! A happy mom makes for happy kids. Raising children takes a village and it's healthy to have multiple role models. Single parents are with their kids much more than couples, so go for drinks with other moms, take in a movie or date.
Date for fun, sex, companionship. Don't rush into co-habiting. You need to feel beautiful and have someone laugh at your jokes. Date like you are a teenager and just get to know someone. If it doesn't work out, who cares? At least your heart isn't broken because you're lonely and bored.
Trust me, your married friends are fighting about who did the dishes and wish they could enjoy a candlelight dinner and the mystery of new touch. Take this opportunity to enjoy that first kiss. Romance is a necessity for everyone, married or not.
Get a therapist
Maybe it's because I lived in Manhattan for so long, where it seems like everyone has a therapist, but I cannot imagine life without one. As a single parent, you don't have someone to bounce parenting or career decisions off of. You get more than your return when you invest in your mental health. Remember, it's mainly healthy people who go to therapy. Get that extra support that will help you succeed in all aspects of your life.
Make money and follow your dreams
There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying the accumulation of opportunity and resources. Having said that, don't get stuck in a soul-sucking job. Be creative and don't limit yourself because you're a single parent. Personally, one of the ways I earn money is performing as a Lady Gaga Impersonator.
Have you always wanted to start your own business? Make a list of where you want to be in 10 years and aim high. Then, write down what you need to do to get there in the next five years. What do you need to do in two years? What about this month, this week, today? When dreaming up ways to earn money, focus on earning lot of money per hour because you need to be efficient.
Do not compare yourself with others, especially couples
As a single parent, you need to remind yourself that couples live in a different universe. Their universe is not better. It is not worse.
One of the main things that make me jealous of couples is how much money they save with two incomes and two adults sharing chores.
As a single parent, I have to outsource a lot more than they do, from cleaners to handymen to babysitters. It's not that I don't know how to assemble an IKEA cabinet, but as a single mother I don't have time (if want to live a balanced life).
However, being able to save money does not make you any happier. In fact, studies show people are happiest when they hire a cleaner and buy takeout.
Have you noticed how stressed married moms can sometimes be? They end up doing too many menial tasks, which prevent them from developing their career and enjoying carefree time with their partner or kids.
Also, since coupled parents "have it all," they get stuck trying to "do it all." Personally, I don't care if my kid eats prepared food, so long as it's healthy-ish. The standards can be high to make organic meals in a spotless kitchen after karate and cello lessons. If you are coupled, why not outsource more?
More from HuffPost Canada:
Although it may seem like all your friends are happily married, remember that it is often said that 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce. You never know, in a few years you might be the married one among your friends.
No matter who you are, stop comparing yourself with others. Every situation has advantages and disadvantages. You may in fact be happier than those you compare yourself too, and not even realize.
Here's to a kickass 2018. We can have fabulous lives as parents. We really can.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost: