Solo Parenting 101
Make it a little easier…
Solo parenting. If you’ve been there, you get it.
Raising children can take a village, but it also takes a lot of planning and prioritizing - to make it all come together.
For the past year or so, I have fallen into the category of solo parent a lot. My hubby works out of town for several weeks at a time, and its definitely taken some getting used to. I'm not complaining - it's the right fit for this phase of our lives…
It just came with a very steep learning curve.
The first stretch without hubby, I learned a lot. I learned that if I don’t put my health first, above all else, we don’t stand a chance of keeping our shit together! So here’s what helps me and the boys stay grounded and happy (for the most part).
Exercising is important for all the usual reasons, but when it comes to solo parenting, it serves two very important purposes - it’s a stress reliever and my kids are NOT there! Each week, I schedule 6 personal exercise sessions. Let’s be real. On average, only three or four of those sessions actually happen, but without making my workouts a priority, I am lucky if I make it to the gym even once.
#2 EAT HEALTHY
When I get into a state of overwhelm, I can just want to order pizza like many of you out there, but relying on take out too much while solo parenting never helps me feel better and isn’t worth the ease or convenience.
Simple, wholesome dinners with real ingredients and lots of vegges is our standard during the week. When my husband is away, we reply on batch cooking. We make everything all at once, we freeze our meals and we’re ok keeping it simple and low key.
Once every other month, setting aside a day for you and your bestie (or hire someone) to batch cook the crap outta everything is a day very well spent!
Having frozen homemade meals is a god sent when I’m solo parenting. The crock pot is also the bomb dot comb.
Also, breakfast for dinner is a win in my books.
We try to save treats for the weekend. Weekday desserts include homemade muffins or fresh fruit.
3. GET UP EARLY
If you want to fit in running your own business, parenting two kids solo, and staying semi-on-top-of-your life, you gotta get up early.
Getting up early is my big secret.
The 30-40 minutes I have in the morning before my kids get up is a very precious part of my day and I use that time to meditate, drink my coffee in peace and be mindful of how I’m feeling. I also try to make this time to set a positive intention for the rest of my day.
And that brings me to my next tip…
#4 – PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
I recently learned that our brains are hardwired for fight or flight, so if we’re feeling a negative emotion, our brain's natural mode is going to try and resist or run away from those feelings. (Binge watching TV and emotional eating are my go-to ways of avoiding my feelings.)
The only problem is, it’s resistance to our suffering that causes more pain.
Tuning into my hard feelings is a process I’m working on daily and piling on the self-compassion is the second.
When I recognize the emotions I’m feeling - whether it be shame or fear - and just sit with it, it’s amazing how quickly it dissipates. When I resist feeling all the feels, they escalate more quickly - making it pretty darned impossible fo me to show up for my kids, my staff and even myself.
Often times, we solo parents are the only ones in charge of nurturing our children, but no one is there to nurture us!
It's up to us to give ourselves the love and compassion we need.
#5 – LIMIT SCREEN TIME
This may seem counter-intuitive . . . we all know a screen can make a damn fine babysitter!
But trust me, the more TV you let them watch, the more likely they are to forget how to JUST BE.
They need to learn it's ok to feel bored, they need to learn how to be creative and use their imaginations. Developing imaginative stories and narratives is part of a child’s developing spirit. There is nothing worse then when you just want to read a book or take a bath and your kid is whining about being bored… All I can think sometimes is, I would kill to be bored!!!
Raising children to be creative, helpful, hard working humans - and above all else, independent during play time - is key for successful solo-parenting.
(Or any kind of parenting for that matter.)
#6 PUT THE KIDS TO WORK
Pile on the chores and make sure they are helping out.
I try to communicate to my children that we are a team, and we are all responsible to pitch in and support our team.
(I once read that is how you set up your kids to be successful employees in the future.)
It felt like a miracle when I finally decided to ask my kids for help, and I honestly can’t believe I waited till I was solo parenting to just that.
Some chores they love, and others they don’t . . . Leroy thinks cleaning the toilet is a blast (he even created a dance move for doing said chore), but taking out the compost is hell on earth for him. Jax is the speediest tidier on Vancouver Island, but making his own breakfast took weeks filled with tears, until he finally just gave up and buttered his own damn bagel.
We just gotta pick our battles, but it’s important to remember that our kids are resilent.
#7 HAVE FUN
This is easily the most important advice I will give you when it comes to solo-parenting.
Remember - you are doing the best you can, with the tools and time you have been provided with. That advice, is simply just that - advice.
I bet you are kicking butt at parenting!!! No need to harp on yourself or feel down if you’ve made mistakes or struggle on your own.
We’re here to help if you need it. So reach out, and don’t be afraid to reply on someone when you really need it.
We’re all in this together, after all.