How to Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent

Three Methods:Spending Family Time TogetherSeeking and Accepting SupportOvercoming the Challenges of Parenting without a Partner

Parenting is no easy task. It requires immense amounts of personal sacrifice, and depends on constant demonstrations of love and respect. It challenges your patience, tests your mental fortitude, and stressfully tightens your purse strings. Parenting as a single parent makes it all even harder. But by prioritizing your relationship with your children and surrounding yourself with positive relationships, yours can be a healthy and vibrantly happy family.[1]

Method 1
Spending Family Time Together

  1. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 4
    Develop a routine that includes each other. As both a parenting and a familial happiness inducing strategy, keep children’s mealtime, bedtimes, and wake-up times reasonably consistent. A reliable routine helps gives structure to you and your children’s days.[2]
    • Schedule weekly fun sessions too. Devote specific blocks of time to relaxing and otherwise spending time with your kids.
    • Limit external distractions by staying home together. Plan an age-appropriate activity such as a crafts or board games that everyone will be interested in.
    • As a parent, you need time at the end of the day to gets things done and decompress. Your children also need more sleep, so put them to bed before you’re ready to wind down for the evening.
    • Don’t fall into the trap of allowing kids to stay up late (even if it means you get to spend more time together).
    • Remind yourself that you can make a point of connecting with your children on the weekend if it seems your weeks are full of work and school obligations.
  2. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 1
    Spend time with your children one-on-one. Spending time with your children individually will allow you to enjoy activities together that they specifically enjoy, thus ensuring an emotional connection.
    • With school-aged children, this may include watching a favorite TV program together, playing video games, or athletic activities.
    • Get outside! The lake, river, or nearest state park are healthy, cheap, and can be genuinely enjoyable for almost every age group.
  3. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 2
    Create family traditions. Even if you don't have time or energy to cook dinner every night, make it a habit to have everyone together for meals at least once a week to share thoughts and stories about the day.
    • Children’s birthdays are an especially good opportunity to build a tradition around. However, birthdays can be hard in a single-parent home.
    • Consider celebrating birthdays out – perhaps even at the same place every year. Family-friendly restaurants will always be happy to have birthday parties (even small ones), and will likely get the staff assembled for the painfully fun happy birthday song.
  4. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 3
    Travel with your children whenever possible. There's no better way to create shared memories than going somewhere new and exploring it together. Family trips can become an incredibly meaningful tradition too.
    • Camping, fishing trips, visiting relatives, and trips to local museums are just a few inexpensive and healthy ideas.
    • Even just car rides provide great opportunities for conversation. Enjoy these random opportunities to chat, sing (or joke about) songs on the radio, or make plans for the next thing you’re both looking forward to doing together.

Method 2
Seeking and Accepting Support

  1. 1
    Try to connect with other single-parent families. This will greatly help both you and your kids know that you’re not alone. Build or join a network of parents (and kids!) that can help and support one another.[3]
    • Sharing childcare, carpool, and household duties will greatly decrease demands on everyone.
    • Many of the challenges that arise while raising children are amplified for single-parent households. Of course, the community of support that is necessary (for everyone) to be a great parent can be harder to develop. Be active about cultivating positive relationships with other single parents you meet, especially those with kids your age.
    • Relatives, neighbors, and other parents you meet at your children’s functions are all likely candidates for friendship, support, and more.
    • Try to always have someone who you can call at a moment’s notice for help in a serious situation, as well as someone you can call more casually. Recognize that this doesn’t necessarily have to be – and maybe shouldn’t be – the same person.
  2. 2
    Join a childcare cooperative. They exist, and they’re brilliant. A brief online search should inform you of the options in your area. Formal childcare cooperatives will charge less to watch children, and may even allow you to volunteer in exchange for free childcare.[4]
    • If none exist in your area, start an informal one with other single parents by rotating childcare locations and responsibilities.
    • This will not only help you save money and get more time free of parenting responsibilities, it will also help you get to know other families in the area.
  3. 3
    Lean on others. There are others who have experienced what you’re going through, and who are even living similar lifestyles simultaneously. Aside from help with the technical and logistical necessities of parenting, pay attention to your mental and social needs as well.[5]
    • Join a support group for single parents. Simply getting together with other single parents to talk about struggles and things you’ve learned will likely prove both enjoyable and helpful.
    • Seek social services. There are plenty of government programs geared towards helping single-parent families. Family support offices will help you identify programs you may qualify for.
  4. 4
    Teach your children about both genders. You may feel as though your children are missing another role model in their lives from whom they might learn. Know that a lack of a male or female parental role model will not necessarily be a detriment to your child’s upbringing, especially if you’re able to convey positivity regarding all genders.[6]
    • Ensure that your children are exposed to positive examples of healthy behavior by both men and women.
    • Make a point of mentioning characteristics or behaviors in members of both sexes.
    • Avoid making negative comments about the opposite sex in general.
    • Contradict negative stereotypes about both genders.
    • Make an effort to (non-romantically) include members of the opposite sex in your children’s life.
    • Seek out and maintain relationships with responsible members of the opposite sex who are happy to spend time with you and your children.
    • Show your children that it’s possible, healthy, and fun to have positive long-term relationships with members of the opposite sex.

Method 3
Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting without a Partner

  1. 1
    Stay in tune with your children. There are some serious challenges to being a single parent. You’re likely often tired and distracted by responsibilities. Don’t allow yourself to slack on providing emotional support and consistent discipline for your child.[7]
    • The most important aspect of supporting your child is simply being there for them. Talk with your children about school and what's going on in their lives every day, even if only for a few minutes.
    • With children young and old, talk about what they want to be when they grow up. This can lead to heartfelt, fun conversations.
    • Tell children stories from you own childhood.
    • Don’t allow a sense of guilt from not being as available as you’d like to lead you to overcompensate by spoiling your children.
    • Be clear with your kids about what’s expected of them at home, including helping with chores and following the rules. Enforce these expectations to provide children with a sense of structure that helps them feel safe and comfortable.
  2. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 6
    Ensure that your work schedule allows you to spend adequate time with your children. This can be a significant challenge, but adjusting your schedule, or even your job, is worth it if it means maintaining a happier, healthier family.[8]
  3. 3
    Take a moment to calm down when frustration arises. Since you’re doing something alone that two people often do together, you’ll likely end up becoming frustrated from time to time. Granted, as a single parent, you can’t dump your kids off on a partner to wander off and calm down.[9]
    • When you feel your blood begin to boil – and it does, for everyone – check yourself.
    • Don’t allow yourself to yell at your children regularly. It will damage your relationship with them and normalize anger and stress in your lives.
    • Instead, count to ten. You’ll feel better more quickly than you think. You’ll then approach the situation in way you won’t regret.
    • When feeling overwhelmed, don’t feel as though you can’t let your children know. Share your frustrations with your children instead of taking it out on them.
    • It’s actually healthy for your kids to see you as human, handling adversity and sadness, which they too will face.
  4. 4
    After an intense moment or conversation, try to laugh it off. If necessary, speak honestly with your child. Remind them that things will get better, and tell them you love them.[10]
    • You want them to know they can talk to you when they’re frustrated, so do so with them!
    • Try to lighten a tense mood, for everyone’s sake, with an attempt at humor.
    • The quality of your joke won’t matter. As long as it’s a positive and cheerful gesture your child will register those connotations and be comforted.
  5. 5
    Take time for yourself. Schedule time for yourself from time to time. Allow a family member or trusted friend to watch you kids for an evening so you can catch some leisure time.[11]
    • Don’t use “you time” to do chores or catch up on work – that defeats the point of making time for yourself.
    • Plan out something fun you’ve been wanting to do beforehand, and look forward to it. This may even include some quiet time alone.
    • Keep track of how to enjoy yourself. You want to be able to model enjoyment and contentment for your children.
  6. Image titled Create a Good Family Life As a Single Parent Step 5
    Handle dating appropriately. First and foremost, only date people who only ever treat you and your partner with respect. Don’t cut into time with your children to go on dates – try to do so on time you schedule for yourself, or during the day when your kids are occupied.[12]
    • Carefully consider the impact of dating someone on your relationship with your children.
    • Wait to introduce a new romantic partner to your children until you’ve developed a solid relationship with them.
    • Don't expect your children to immediately be fond of your romantic partner. Give them to time to get to know one another, and know that someone new in close proximity to you will take some getting used to for children of any age.
  7. 7
    Talk about your separation or loss with your children. If and when your child wants to do so, be ready to talk with them about why their other birth parent is no longer part of the picture. [13]
    • Since most single-parent homes are the result of divorce or other type of unexpected separation, the change will likely have led to feelings of unhappiness, sadness, and anger for your children.
    • Allow your children to convey the feelings they have about whatever happened.
    • Answer any questions your children have openly and honestly, but avoid unnecessary or traumatic details, and refrain from speaking poorly of their other birth parent.
    • Reassure your children that a separation was not their fault.
    • Offer to bring your children to a counselor who can help you both face the feelings that might arise following a separation, even long after it occurred.

Article Info

Categories: Parenting