When you become a single parent, there is a lot to adjust to. You’re experiencing new emotions, new challenges, and a whole new way of life. Not only that, you have to help your child adjust to this new life as well. It can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. There are millions of families who have gone through this change, millions of parents who have adjusted to life as a single parent. As you take this step into a new lifestyle, learn from their experiences, and let them support you. Here are some tips for you as you adjust to life as a single parent.
Tips For the Early Days
The early days of adjusting to life as a single parent can be lonely and daunting. It seems like there are endless decisions to make, meetings to attend, and tasks to complete. It’s important to take things step-by-step and follow these tips:
Seek Out Support
There are over 13 million single parents in the U.S. alone. That means there are millions of people that know exactly what you’re going through right now. Figuring out the new normal of life as a single parent is hard enough, but doing it on your own can feel impossible. Reach out to friends and support groups. There are people around you that are willing to help and lift you, you just need to take the first step of reaching out.
Take Time to Adjust
Learning to live life as a single parent is a huge adjustment. There are a lot of new things to learn for you, your child, and your family and friends. Give yourself time to learn the new normal. Take time to work through your feelings. It’s okay to feel everything from angry to sad to confused. Once you’ve found your support group, talk things out with them. It will help you work through the adjustment.
Focus On What You Can Control
With so many things changing, it can feel like you’re completely out of control. This can leave someone feeling totally overwhelmed. However, if you focus on what is still in your power, you’ll feel much more secure. Take the time to recognize that there are things out of your control and don’t let yourself dwell on it. There’s no reason to get stuck in negative feelings about things you literally can’t change. Putting all your energy into what you can control will give you that fulfillment you need to continue on.
Most important is to be patient with yourself and your children. As previously mentioned, learning to live life as a single parent is a huge adjustment. There will be wins and losses. Be patient with yourself as you learn and make mistakes. Be patient with the feelings you experience. And be patient with your child as they try to understand and adjust to this new life as well.
Learning to understand the legal aspects of becoming a single parent can be difficult. There are a lot of meetings to attend to negotiate custody, you may even have to attend court for the judge to make a decision. You will have to work with family law attorneys to negotiate the terms of custody. This can be one of the most difficult parts of divorce for many people. Generally, both parents want custody of their children, so figuring out the right balance that is healthy for both you and your children is difficult. As long as you’ve got a good attorney, you should be able to figure out an agreement that works for everyone.
If you end up being the one with sole custody of your child, you will have to work through some different legal aspects, such as figuring out child support or even a visitation schedule for your ex. The first few years as a single parent can be full of different legal battles and choices to make. Again, make sure you have a good attorney who will work with you and fight for you.
Communicating With Your Child
Learning how to communicate with your child about what is happening during a divorce can be difficult. While it’s difficult for you to wrap your head around, it can be almost impossible for a young child to really get it. If possible, talk to your child together with your ex. This will allow them to ask you questions together and see that you are still working together. Your child will likely need a lot of reinforcement that everything will be okay.
Even after the initial conversation your child will have a lot of questions. Let them come naturally. If your child doesn’t want to talk at first, give them time to process. Answer the questions when they come. As much as possible, be positive about your ex. Don’t place blame, don’t try to turn your child against them. The more time you and your ex spend reassuring your child that you still love them and that you are committed to making them happy, the more secure and at peace they will feel.
Preparing Your Home
As you adjust to life as a single parent, you may be also adjusting to a new home. Whether your ex got to keep your family home, or you decided to get a fresh start, you will be busy doing what you can to prepare this new home for your children and new life. One important step to take as you prepare to move into your new home is ensuring that it’s got all the necessary repairs and care to keep you and your child safe. This could mean hiring a team for a roof repair service, installing new carpet, hiring a plumber and electrician, anything that your new house may need to be as safe as possible.
Depending on the time of year that you’re moving into your new home you may also need season-specific repairs. If it’s winter, you may want someone to check your HVAC system to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. If it’s summer, hire a company to do an air conditioner installation to make sure you’re comfortable in your home.
Once you’ve made sure it’s safe, you and your child may want to take some time to decorate and make it really feel like your special place. Hangup pictures, paint walls your favorite colors, build furniture together, even have a closet organizing session to clear out old clothing and items, and make space for the new.
Coordinating Your Child’s Health Care
While you are adjusting to life as a single parent, you will have a lot of important things to remember and tasks to complete. If you are moving to a new area, one of the top things on your list should be coordinating health care for your child. If you were getting insurance through your spouse’s work, you will also have to find new coverage. Your child may still be covered under their work and receive a child health plan plus, but if not, you will have to find an alternative.
If you’ve moved to a new area, start by finding a family physician that you trust. You can ask friends in the area for recommendations, read reviews online, and even chat with the doctor or nurse on the phone prior to visiting to answer a few questions. You’re worried about a lot right now, the last thing you want to be concerned with is whether your doctor will work with you to ensure the best health for your child.
You will also need to find a new dentist for your child if you’ve moved. A simple google search for child dentists in your area will yield a lot of results, but you’ll want to again check out those online reviews and get recommendations from friends and family.
Helping Your Child Adjust
Helping your child adjust to this new lifestyle in a new area can be tough. They are going to need some serious love and attention from you to figure out this new normal. There are a few things you can try to help them in this adjustment period.
The first is to keep your schedule as similar as possible. Even if you are in a new place, try to keep your schedule fairly similar. Wake at the same time. Have the same types of food for breakfast. Do some of the same activities. Help your child feel that same normal they have before as they shift.
Some parents have chosen to introduce a pet to their family at this time. Getting a pet that your child can pay attention to, play with, and love can help as they try to figure out their new emotions and lifestyle. This will also help them to learn some responsibility. Give them tasks such as feed, daily walks, or simple pet grooming like brushing and bathing.
Finding New Ways to Have Fun
While it’s important to keep things as similar as possible to help your child adjust, you should also try out some new, fun activities to keep your child in high spirits. As you’re searching for a new place to live, try to find housing that is close to parks, maybe even an option that has a swimming pool or other fun activities. You could even purchase a pool for your home during the summer. This will be something fun your child can do to distract themself from the tough things going on. Checkout local pool supply companies in your area for the best prices and options for your location.
Celebrating the Little (And Big) Things
As you’re going through adjusting to life as a single parent, you’ll be busy with a lot of new tasks and challenges. But don’t let yourself forget to celebrate the little and big things for your child. Adding little celebrations will motivate them as they take new steps and make new habits. You could celebrate the first night your child sleeps in their new room. You could celebrate the day your child goes to a new school. These little celebrations may help them to feel more excited about the changes and new things they’re experiencing.
Don’t forget to celebrate the big things as well. Holidays, birthdays, big achievements, while they will undoubtedly look different, are still just as important. Start new traditions that your child can be excited about. For example, get custom birthday tee shirts made that you and your child can wear all day on their birthday. These little (and big) things will help your child feel excited even though things are changing.
Taking Care of Yourself
While you are doing all of these things to make sure your child is cared for, don’t forget about yourself. You are going through a lot of new things as well. You are learning the new normal and feeling a lot of tough emotions. Take some time to do things to celebrate yourself. Take time for yourself. It’s important that you are cared for so you can care for your child and those around you. Ask for help or accept it when it’s offered. This isn’t a time to try and take everything on yourself.
Be Positive Moving Forward
Adjusting to life as a single parent is a big change. There will be challenges and feelings you didn’t expect. You will need to have patience with yourself and your children as you figure out the new normal.
As you adjust, look positively towards the future. Many single parents express feelings of relief and hope as they are free from the conflict they were experiencing in their marriage. Look towards the new experiences, the new memories, and the new excitement you’ll experience in your new normal life.
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