Being a single parent can be difficult even when things are going well. As anyone who has taken on both parenting roles will tell you, there are times when it seems like going on after a particularly hard day is impossible; having no one to tag in when you’re sick, tired, or stressed takes a toll after a while.
For these reasons, it’s important for single parents to know how to take care of themselves, make time to do things that relax them and make them happy, and stay healthy. Here are some of the best tips for moms and dads who need to take a time-out.
Learning how to take care of yourself isn’t just about eating right and getting exercise, although those are two very important things to know. It’s also about remembering to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. You can’t expect to be the best parent you can be if you’re tired, stressed, or unhappy, so take a little time every day that’s just for you. Turn off your phone, stay away from emails, and get to it: play a video game, take a hot bath with a glass of wine, or relax with a good book. The most important part is to keep guilt out of the equation; don’t feel bad for focusing on your own well-being for a little while. It’s absolutely necessary.
Find healthy ways to cope
It’s easy sometimes to defeat stress with a cigarette or a few beers, but when you become dependent on drugs or alcohol to get you through the day or to help you sleep, it might be time to take a look at your situation and evaluate whether you are making healthy choices. If you have been relying too heavily on unhealthy coping methods, you might consider trying something new. Work exercise into your day, which can help you with energy levels as well as getting more restful sleep. Try yoga or meditation, which can help to dramatically reduce stress and emotional issues. Get creative and take up a new hobby, such as drawing or sewing. Stress from being the sole caregiver can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts, so take care of yourself.
Remember that it’s okay to say “No”
Friends and family may not understand sometimes just how busy you are, so don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations once in awhile. It’s okay to put your own needs first at times, especially if you’re tired or overworked.
Find a support system
Having friends around you who also have children is one of the best ways to combat stress, as talking with someone who understands what you’re going through is always helpful. If you don’t know anyone who is a single parent, consider looking online for support groups or even groups of single parents who meet up socially for playdates.
Being a single parent is never easy, but keeping your stress levels down makes for a happy, healthy you.