When we first moved to Temecula, I was the only single mom I knew. Over the years, single parent families have become as common as two parent families. Some of the stigma has been lifted, but it doesn’t make single parenting any easier.
If you are a single parent (mom or dad), I hope this article encourages you and helps you to feel less alone as you endeavor to take on the most important job there is … raising children.
If you are not a single parent, I hope this article will give you a window into the world of single parenting. Unless you have done it, it’s really hard to know what it’s like. That being said, I thought I would give you a peek! Here is a 5-minute adventure into what it might be like to live in the shoes of a single parent:
Mornings. What are your mornings like? Are your kids your alarm clock, too early most of the time? Or do you find yourself in battle first thing in the morning to get everyone out of bed? Who is the point of first contact – mom or dad? What happens if you don’t feel well? Are you still on call? Who is making breakfast? Packing lunches? Making sure jackets, homework and everything else is in the car? (Even if it was done the night before.) Who is off to work or getting ready for work? Who is worried about being late to work? These are just some of the concerns that can occur in the morning. If you have two adults in your home, you are likely sharing at least some of these concerns. If you have one adult in your home, you are responsible for ALL of them. Just think about that!
Unplanned early pick-up. Have you ever gotten a phone call from school that your child is sick? Or they forgot their lunch or homework? Maybe the carpooling plan changed last minute? Do you ever have to choose between work and your children? Choosing between getting paid or being there for your kids … not being able to do both at the same time?
Late afternoon/evening. What are you thinking about as it hits 4:00 or 5:00? Who has homework? Who is taking which child to practice? How dinner is coming along? Is the laundry done for tomorrow? Are we on track for baths and bed? Or are you thinking about getting off work on time, what traffic is like, and if you’re going to be late to pick up your kids? If you need to stop at the store, is it all on you or can you call your partner? With single parents, the buck ultimately stops with them … for all of this. They are transitioning from work to kids, to dinner, to homework, to planning for tomorrow, baths, teeth, stories, prayer and bedtime. Are you sharing these tasks, or doing them all? Or, perhaps some are not getting done?
Single parents are pretty amazing and they adapt well. The children adjust too. But there is a price. Have you ever wondered how they do it all? How it impacts the kids? What they are giving up? Are they doing without some of the basics of life due to financial hardship? Are they doing without some extracurricular activities that would be healthy for the children? Is there a shortage of quality time? How does one choose between providing financially and providing emotionally? What an impossible dilemma. We were not designed for single parenting, but sometimes that’s what we have to do.
Here’s how your family can make a difference. You can be a big brother or big sister, mentor or friend to a child who has a parent trying to do it all. You can be a friend to a parent who rarely gets a break. I encourage you to find a way to do something to support a single parent (and their children). It can be babysitting, mowing the lawn, making dinner, carpooling, or even dropping $10 at the door from a “mystery friend.” Even a Starbucks treat, a bottle of wine, or a movie. The needs vary from family to family, but I know any support would be appreciated. To assist you in building up the children around you, get your free copy of 101 Ways to Praise and Build Up a Child. Start making that difference now!
As you step into the coming months, make a point to look for one single parent family each month to gift a random act of kindness to. Incorporate your kids. What a difference you will make in their family and yours, not to mention the community as a whole!