Raising children is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. But when you signed up to be a dad, chances are you didn’t think you’d be doing it alone. Single dads face singular challenges, not the least of which are balancing the needs of your children against the demands of work, keeping up with home maintenance, and preserving an adult social life.
With allies like our school to help in the academic, emotional and social development of your kids, you’ve got these challenges in the bag. Here are a few more tips to help you on this journey.
It’s okay to prioritize your children.
Some work situations will gracefully accommodate your new role in your family. You’re not just the only breadwinner now; you’re also a laundryman, lunch packer, storyteller, and more.
Still, some office cultures may frown upon your inability to work beyond office hours. At some point, you will have to draw the line at work and tell them that your children come first. Your children will love you, whether you’re promoted to vice-president this year or not, and they really don’t care if you get a raise. They need you around, so it’s okay to put them first.
But let’s face it — raising kids isn’t cheap. If money concerns are weighing on you, one way to lighten your burden is to pick up a side gig. Think about doing something flexible and interesting so you don’t dread the work and so that you can still dedicate time to your family.
Before you go too far, though, start on the right foot. You should choose a business structure and register your business with your state. This sounds complicated, but if you tackle this through an online service like ZenBusiness.com, it’s both inexpensive and easy — two words all single parents love to hear.
Ask for help.
Single parents really do need help. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and close friends to help you with the children. A lot of grandparents will happily step up to the plate if you give them the chance. Many parents relish the opportunity to become grandparents, noting that they get all the love without having to be disciplinarians.
Make friends with your neighbors who have children. If you volunteer to take a neighbor’s child to the zoo when you take your kids, those parents may reciprocate and give you a weekend afternoon off. You may even want to consider teaming up with another single dad to share babysitting expenses and duties.
You can also look into extracurricular programs to keep your charges occupied. Our school, for instance, has some great afterschool programs that you can look into.
Protect your mental health.
Being a single parent can bring on a lot of stress. You may find that, suddenly, you are doing the job of two parents — and most single dads still have to work full-time. Keeping all those balls in the air is a lot of work.
It can be tempting to turn to bad habits like alcohol at the end of the day to de-stress. But that really isn’t the best mechanism for coping with your troubles. The same thing goes for too much caffeine and television.
Taking a jog around the neighborhood is a better way of dealing with stress. If your children are old enough to join you on your run, even better. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Making imaginative, tasty meals and working on arts and crafts alongside them are all effective stress outlets that get your brain cells firing, too.
To maintain an overall healthy outlook, you will also need adult companionship from time to time. This might mean going on a date or just finding some time to go out with your male friends. Signing up for a support group can also do wonders.
It’s not easy to be a single father, and balancing work and life may be the greatest challenge. It’s incumbent to ask for and find help. You don’t have to go at it alone — you’ve got this!