Few high-level CEOs have to accomplish in one day what a single working mom or dad must. And it can be tough to get through all the chores with enough energy left over for the fun stuff – such as outdoor, educational and creative activities that you and your child enjoy doing together.
Dan Pearce, of the blog Single Dad Laughing, recommends identifying the priority areas: your child, work, hobbies, friends and dating. There can be times when each of these areas is firing on all cylinders, and other occasions when a problem crops up and you are just not willing to sacrifice your child or their well-being to save everything else.
Work, of course, must always remain a priority when you are heading up a single-salary household. The problem is that an unfulfilled parent has less to offer their child in the way of fun times and a happy home. Here are five tips to help you keep your cool, adapted from the experts behind hit reality-television show Supernanny.
TIPS FOR ACHIEVING SINGLE-PARENT SANITY
1. Firstly, some reassurance: There is really no such thing as a perfect parent. Helicopter parenting can be downright intrusive, never mind independence-suppressing and resilience-quashing for your child. What you are already doing is likely more than adequate in the time you have available outside work hours. However, it may be worth negotiating with your boss for flexi-time when things are quiet (to attend ballet concerts and sports days), and to offer up extra hours when deadlines call.
2. Next up: you need to take care of yourself – physically, emotionally and spiritually – to give your child the very best upbringing you possibly can. Identify what it is you need on a daily, weekly and longer-term basis to be fulfilled. This could, for example, take the form of a quiet meditative coffee each morning before your child wakes up to contemplate the work tasks up ahead; a run or cycle in the mountains on a Saturday morning when you have a babysitter a date, colleagues’ or girls’ night, visiting an upmarket venue or just indulging in adult conversation.
3. It takes a village to raise a child, so don’t think you need to be your child’s alpha and omega. Input is needed from grandparents, your regular babysitter, aunts and uncles, other parents – single or partnered – and friends who care about your child’s well-being. The odd late night at work, business trip out of town or evening out with colleagues or entertaining clients will do you all good, as long as you are confident of the quality of your little one’s care.
4. Don’t take any irritation from the workplace out on your child. Rather recognise it and make sure you treat yourself to some TLC and me-time at your earliest convenience. Meditating and making use of a mindfulness app such as Headspace is a great way to be more aware of your mood or needs as they arise. Remaining in tune with yourself can be a great aid to better parenting, as well as a more fulfilled life in general.
5. Lastly, be honest with your child about any upcoming changes. These could involve anything from looking for or starting a new job, meeting someone who could become a future partner, potentially moving house or preparing for an important sports event or client presentation. Children are naturally supportive of the people they love, and even if your child can’t fully understand what you are going through, their vote of confidence, and the fact that what you are striving for will benefit both of you, should keep you going throughout any difficult energy-sapping periods.