If you're part of a couple with kids, you have a partner for moral support and assistance with the daily duties of raising a child. Single parents not only take on the work of two people, but solo moms and dads also lack a shoulder to cry on and a strong arm for support during challenging family times. But the stress of taking on double parenting duties doesn't have to be a cause to pull your hair out. The University of Texas Southwestern Employee Assistance Program, an academic medical center system, encourages single mothers and fathers to develop organized plans and routines to relieve the common stress involved in parenting.
Solo parents need a formal plan to take charge of budgeting money and managing finances. Everybody has job stress, but single parents also typically experience strain from taking on the job of organizing and paying household bills and the problems involved in budgeting one income to pay for all of the family expenses. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends single moms and dads make a budget and keep close track of weekly income and expenses to relieve financial pressures. Community colleges and local school districts frequently offer classes on personal money management, and some have online course options to study from home.
A formal plan to meet with other single parents also helps put a pin in the stress balloon. Attending meetings with community single-parent groups gives you time to vent and also provides some helpful tips to borrow from other single parents at the meetings. Branches of the nonprofit "Dads, Inc.," for example, offer education and support for single fathers focused on learning to wrangle kids without the support of a partner. "Parents Without Partners" has branch groups with regular activities and meetings for both single moms and dads. Church groups and some school districts schedule single parenting informal chat groups. Parents without access to child care may not be able to attend meetings but still have the option to share with other single parents in online forums. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends asking your pediatrician about local single parent support groups.
Exercising Away Stress
A plan for formal exercise releases some of the strain of parenting. When stress becomes too much, take a time out to do some exercise, even if it's simply a walk around the block. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America encourages managing stress through exercise. Schedule regular times for activity during the week to manage stress, improve your physical condition and help keep you healthy by fighting disease. The ADAA notes that setting aside five short minutes a day for aerobic exercise helps reduce anxiety. Research local gyms or exercise facilities that offer child care or organized, supervised activities, such as art classes or scouting, for your children so you don't need to worry about care while you're relieving stress during a workout.
Release Through Writing
Formal time to write channels your stress into words. Journaling about the parenting experiences that cause stress offers some relief, and blogging online about family events that create anxiety allows other single parents to give support and make helpful suggestions to lighten your parenting load. The University of West Georgia Office of Information Security cautions single parents against sharing sensitive or personal information online that could allow users to identify you in the real community. To be safe, keep your posts general, never identify your neighborhood or workplace and use aliases for members of your family.
- HealthyChildren.org: Stresses of Single Parenting
- The Villages: Dads Inc.
- UT Southwestern Employee Assistance Program: How to Cope with the Stress of Single Parenting
- University of West Georgia Office of Information Security: Chat Room and Instant Messaging
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
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