*Guest post* Tips for Managing Life as a Single Dad
There are so many things in this world that you have to tackle on your own; it can be extremely challenging—but also rewarding—when fatherhood is one of them. Whether you’re solo parenting one child or five, being a single parent requires focus and insight, not only in your child’s life, but in your life, as well. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing.
When experiencing the inevitable stress from the challenges of being a single father, it’s easy to forgo your needs for those of your family. However, when you’re unhappy, it weighs on everyone. If you’re struggling to find balance as a single parent, check out these tips and techniques that might help you succeed in jumping the mental and emotional hurdles of solo parenting.
As a single father, your most important job is being a parent, but it’s not your only job. Whether it’s because your employer or career isn’t flexible or you’re facing financial hardships, one of the biggest challenges for single fathers is finding a work/life balance. Sometimes it seems as if you have to choose a paycheck over parenting.
First and foremost, it’s essential that your have a strong support network to back you up during those moments when your job takes centre stage. Family, friends, other single parents are all possible members of your support network. You can build this network at church, in community centres, or even in support groups. Second, fill your toolbox with easy low-cost or no-cost activities you can do so that finances don’t have to take priority over your kids. You can go on picnics to the park, camp on the weekends, visit museums and zoos, or take your kids to story time at the library.
Work/life balance also means making time for yourself. Squeezing in fitness, hanging out with friends, and getting plenty of sleep can seem like unattainable goals. But even if you can only get to one of these a week, you’re going to make a significant positive outlook on a life that can often feel overwhelming and unsteady.
Keep It Light
While your first instinct might be to confront the boy that pushed your daughter at the park, in reality, single dads have to keep a cool head. Many dads feel an urge to be problem solvers, which can sometimes come off as being overprotective or even suffocating. What your kids really need is someone who will listen to their problems and cheer them up when life gets tough. Try not to judge too much—and that means watching your facial expressions—when they share with you, and, while it’s important to keep things light, don’t blow off their struggles or pain. Be a good listener and make sure they know you are a place they can come to for comfort.
It’s All About Perspective
Make fun a priority. In moments when you feel like it’s just one difficult thing after another, try to focus on the good that is happening in the cracks in between. If you can’t find the good, make it happen. Take time to do activities with your kids that bring you all together and get you laughing, especially if the past day or two has been emotionally or physically draining. There’s nothing like watching their faces light up to transform the roadblocks of being a single father into mere hiccups.
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