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Top 10 Single Parenting Tips

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States, and those parents are raising 21.2 million children. Interestingly enough, single father homes are the fastest growing type of family situation and the number of single fathers has grown by 60% in the last ten years.

Parenting is hard work, even for those couples who have a healthy marriage. Single parents face additional challenges that can result in added stress, pressure, and fatigue. The most common single parent challenges include financial issues, child care, social isolation, and finding a good work/life balance. In today's blog, we have 10 tips for single parents, which should help reduce the amount of stress that comes along with the unique challenges of single parenting after a divorce.

Develop a support network. It's critical that you have people you can depend on to help you. Many times your support network consists of close friends and family, but you may also find your neighbors and your church are very willing to help. And, don't forget there are plenty of support groups out there for single parents; try looking on Meetup.com to find some in your area.

Find quality child care. Single parents sometimes work long hours, so finding quality child care ensures you can work the hours necessary to support your family, without worrying about how your children are doing. Look for qualified, licensed care providers who can provide appropriate stimulation for your children's age in a safe environment.

Take care of yourself. It sounds obvious, but try to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. Nothing beats stress like a good workout, and getting a good night's sleep is crucial for your physical health as well as your ability to cope.

Create a stable, nurturing home. Children have a strong need for security and stability, especially after a change as large as the one that comes with divorce. Our job as parents is to ensure our children are safe, feel safe, secure, and protected. They need this in order to thrive. Your living situation may have changed dramatically after your divorce, so lots of reassurance, extra love, and attention can go a long way.

Establish schedules and routines. Part of creating a stable, nurturing home is developing schedules and routines. Along with security and stability, many children also crave predictability. Routines and schedules help ensure your children know what to expect, which is important after the changes that come with a divorce.

Set reasonable limits and expectations. Your children may take advantage of this time of change to test boundaries and limits. It's important that you be firm and consistent; set clear expectations and guidelines with respect to behavior and consequences. If you treat your children as peers or end up letting them "run the show" so to speak, serious individual and family problems can arise.

Be present with your children. Though you may be struggling emotionally too during this time, when you are with your children, try to be mindful and emotionally present. Your children really do need you now more than ever. Play games, go to the park, take walks, and above all, have fun doing it!

Schedule alone time. Between working, shuttling kids around, and taking care of the house, there may seem to be no time left for YOU. However, "me" time can bring healing, hope, and much needed perspective. Even an hour alone doing something you enjoy, or just relaxing and taking time to do absolutely nothing, can rejuvenate you and help you bounce back.

Allow yourself to grieve. The end of a marriage is a loss that needs to be acknowledged, and not held in. Holding feelings inside can cause illness, both physically and mentally. Consider writing in a journal, talking to a therapist, or venting with a close friend or family member to process your loss so that you can move on to living your best life.

Stay positive. Every end brings a new beginning - though it may sound like a platitude, it really is how you look at your situation. Remind yourself of the good things in your life and things that are going well for you. Don't forget that your mood and attitude greatly impact your children. Children, even very young children, can be affected by your mood and attitude, even if you don't express it verbally.

You can be successful as a single parent and raise happy, healthy children! In a nutshell –follow our tips, don't be afraid to ask for help when needed, and take care of yourself.

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