You are divorced now. I know that the whole of your life has gone upside down. On the other hand, no matter what the situation is entirely different, your child’s needs are not going to change after parents’ divorce. She will need the same things she needs now, or which she required when she had two parents. That means that you should still provide a routine, encouragement to learn, emotional support, protection, and so on for your kid.
If you do the job well, your child will be just as happy as children who live with both parents. Kids generally do well if they have a good adult role model no matter what they live with a single or both parents. But, what about you? I will give you some tips on how to handle a new situation, take care of you and your little one(s), and go on with your life.
Table of Contents
- Your First Steps as a Single Parent
- You and Your Child
Your First Steps as a Single Parent
1 – Set clear goals
The most important thing for you is to have a clear picture of what do you want for both yourself and your child. You need to be a committed and strong single parent for your kid but also honest enough to assess your own strength and to set clear goals for the future. Your first step should be creating a daily routine.
Remember, you will probably need to start with making simple steps on the way to achieving long-term goals (possible relocation, managing the money more effectively, going back to school, finding a job, improving a co-parenting relationship with the ex-partner, and so on).
2 – Handle your finances
This segment of family life could be the toughest issue for a single parent and pretty stressful especially if the other partner took care of bills while you were married. You don’t have many options. Find enough time to understand as much as possible about budgeting your money and long-term investments.
It is also important to make a plan for a child’s college or your retirement which may demand another job. Well, as a single parent, you will probably need to go back to school or to find an additional job because relying on an ex-partner for child support can sometimes be tricky.
3 – Set up a routine
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of establishing a new routine as soon as possible. You are now in a situation when your whole past life has changed. You have remained without the help and support, and you need to rebuild a new way of life after many years of building certain habits. For a start, you need to find time to grieve. It is the only way to get over the situation and find the strength in yourself so you can keep on going.
After that first step, start to organize your day in a way which will offer your child a sense of security and provide a safe zone for you. Begin with scheduling your bedtimes and meals routine so that your kid will know exactly what to expect during a day. Also, you will find it easier to cope with the changes while you follow the established order of commitment.
4 – Take care of yourself
From the very beginning explain to your kid that it is OK being sad and angry from time to time. Tell her that you have a right to be upset, but that she is not a reason for these negative emotions. It is also an excellent strategy to ‘let her’ express her own sadness and anger. Depending on your child’s age, you should find a way to tell her what is going on. Don’t let her feel guilty due to divorce.
Likewise, find a way to organize time for yourself during a day. Read a book, chat with a friend, or take a warm bath. You need a little personal time even it lasts only half an hour. Just provide peace in mind for both your kid and your and prepare for the new life that is ahead of you.
5 – Remove feeling guilty
Sometimes a single parent can feel guilty because of lack of the time she (he) spends with the child. It is pretty useless and won’t help either your kid or you. For your own good, you should try to solve current daily problems. Also, talk to your friends and family if you have any feeling of guilt about your divorce or find one of many support groups and ask for counseling.
Always keep in mind that it is easy to feel guilty about everything including things you can’t influence or about the time you can’t spend with your child. But, think about one thing – Who will take care of your kid if something happens to you? You should focus on the goals you can achieve. Pay attention to your own wishes and the needs of your beloved child. It is enough for a start, you know.
6 – Stay positive and believe in yourself
Regardless of overwhelmed by the responsibilities and demands of single parenting, or grief, anger, regret, and any other negative emotion you feel, you should find your inner strength and stay positive. I know that your situation is far from perfect at the moment, but you should try to balance your life. You certainly don’t need the extra stress.
The solution can be regular exercising, resting enough, and having a healthy diet. Maybe you can start a diary. It doesn’t have to be anything serious, of course. No one expects you to be a best seller writer. Just write down your thoughts, feelings, and events in those early days, and you will always have a reminder of what it was and how much better is now. After all, who knows? J.K. Rowling is also a single parent.
7 – Solve the ‘ex-files’
Get along with your ex-spouse. I believe that you are still angry with your ex-partner and probably look for ways to hurt him (her). The problem is that you have a child together and you need to think of her. Making her unhappy will hurt you more than the divorce itself.
Both of you should do everything possible that stay in a civilized relationship for your child’s sake. If you can’t talk without arguing, take advantage of e-mails. Write a message, let it stay overnight, check it out one more time, and send it after the rejection of insults, accusations, and quarrel voice.
The essential thing is – stop the trash talk especially in front of your child! Whatever your ex-partner has done, he (she) is still your child’s dad (mom), and your little one loves both of you with all her heart.
You can say – ‘Dad (Mom) can’t come to your school event’, but it is entirely useless and counterproductive to add – ‘That jerk is insensitive and irresponsible!’ Kindly ask your parents, friends, and neighbors to avoid negative comments too. Each time you or someone else gives up bad words, your child will be hurt less.
8 – Move on
The best way to begin to live without sadness, guilt, and regret, is to set a ‘day for a new beginning’. Make your (new) house a home. Organize your life according to your own rules that best suit both you and your child. Make some order in the house, introduce the rules, and establish a routine. You are still a parent to your child, not a room-mate. Separate what you enjoy and what you need from things that are not a priority. All this is a good foundation for the life you try to build over again.
9 – Dating again
Yes, you are a single mom, an ex-spouse, businesswoman, housewife, and who knows what else. But, you are a woman too, and you need someone who will love you. It is entirely unnatural living ‘only for a kid’. You should appreciate you, and live for yourself too. At one point, the question of your going out, dating, and meeting a new partner will appear.
It won’t be an ‘easy job’ by any means. Well, for a start, don’t expect that your child will be delighted. Also, don’t expect that every man (woman) will have an understanding of your problems as a single parent. Many hard temptations are in front of you, but being appreciated and loved again is not a ‘mission impossible’ at all. Go for it!
You and Your Child
1 – Unconditionally love your kid
No matter what you are a single parent now, your child will still expect the same concern, protection, support, encouragement, and love she used to get before. You are probably tired and unhappy, and it is occasionally hard for you to offer all that, but she is not guilty of what has happened. It is understandable that your support and love now mean more to her than before while she grew up in a safe and stable home.
2 – Answer your child’s questions honestly
Be prepared that your child will have a lot of questions. She will want to know what is happening and why she needs to live without the other parent. Don’t lie to her. Just find a way to answer her on the age-appropriate way. Be honest, open, and direct as much as possible to ensure that she gets the support and help her deal with her confused emotions.
3 – Be a good role model
Whatever you do, be aware that your child looks up to you. Organize family gathering with the responsible relatives and friends. Spending quality time with adults will be beneficial to your little one. Actually, every positive and valuable example will be of crucial importance for her.
4 – Spend quality time together
Encourage her to avoid watching the TV or playing games on the Net. Instead, talk to your kiddo about her school, her friends, or her boyfriend depending on her age. Play and sing-a-along on a ride, read her a story before bedtime, laugh together. Enjoy joint moments and spend an enjoyable and unforgettable time together whenever possible.
5 – Find the same interests
Read books both of you like or play favorite social games together. If both of you enjoy spending time outdoors, organize a special outing. Walk to the park, go to the ZOO, or go swimming. Understand your child’s wishes and support her goals.
Hug and kiss your child as often as possible. Let her know that you love her and that you are proud of her. Introduce the morning ritual of smiles and embraces for a good morning. Show your happiness whenever you see your dearest kid and be sure that she will respond with gratitude and satisfaction.
7 – Praise your child
Try to praise your child whenever she talks to you openly about her feelings or achieves something. Your dear sweetie deserves praises for the way she solves problems, makes progress at school, or when she is successful in sports no matter what she survived recently.
8 – Treat your child like a child
It is probably the most valuable advice I can give to you. Don’t rely too heavily on your child only because it is more comfortable for you or when there is no one else to help you. Your little one hasn’t life experience and the emotional capacity to solve problems for you. Find a friend to share your frustrations with or seek professional help. Your kid should be a kid regardless of what you are forced to be a single parent.
No one can say that it will be easy. No matter what anyone thinks about the damaging consequences of a ‘broken home’ and the effects of a divorce on a child and ex-partners, you must believe that you and your little one are not just another numbers more.
You are beyond any possible Statistics. Your home is not ‘broken’. You have a new home, a new life, and a new perspective. You can be a woman with a salary, friends, spare time, and beloved child you are dedicated to.
Don’t let anyone tells you it is impossible. Of course that it is possible! It only takes a lot of effort, good organization, and strong will. Plus, you will need some time. You won’t overcome your ex-marriage and your previous life overnight. Take your time. This too shall pass!