At some point in your relationship, your partner may have to be away for an extended amount of time, you’ll have to take on the majority of the parenting role. This is when solo parenting comes into play. Solo parenting occurs when the full mental, emotional, physical, and financial responsibility of childrearing is placed on one parent because the other parent is unavailable.
To be clear, being a solo parent is vastly different from being a single parent. The two should not be confused. The term solo parenting is just an acknowledgment of the many and varied situations where a co-parenting situation turns into a solo parenting situation.
Solo parenting can be very challenging, especially for those who are not used to that type of household dynamic. As a mom who is currently almost four years into solo parenting, I remember it was quite an adjustment for me to get used to the frequent extended periods of time that my husband was traveling for work. I didn’t have that co-parent support that I was used to. I had to learn how to manage the parenting load on my own. These tips that I am about to share helped in my adjustment to the solo parenting life.
6 Tips To Survive Solo Parenting
- Mentally Prepare Yourself: More than likely you know in advance the duration of time that you will be parenting solo, so before that time occurs, start to prep yourself mentally. Journal how you feel about the transition. Talk it out with your partner, a trusted friend, or a licensed therapist if needed. Make a plan of action for who and where you can reach out for help on those more challenging days.
- Communicate With Your Kids: This transition will not only be affecting you, but it will also affect your children as well. Have a family meeting and let your kids know what is going to happen. Especially for your older kids, ask them how they feel about the transition and get them involved in coming up with ideas to keep the family connected. For younger kids, having them draw or paint how they feel or reading a book that talks about their feelings are great ways to express themselves.
- Extend Yourself Grace: Do not set high or unrealistic expectations of yourself during this time. You may not be able to keep up with everything the way you normally do when your partner is home. So extend yourself some grace and make sure the essentials are covered; the rest will just have to wait for the time being.
- Automate As Much As You Can: Meals, grocery shopping, scheduling after-school activities, weekend plans, appointments, housecleaning, etc. Whatever you are able to automate, if you have the budget, do so. Meal kit delivery services and curbside grocery pickup have been a lifesaver for me. Automating those things really helped not only free up time, but also mental space so I could focus on more important things.
- Ask For Help: There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you begin to feel overwhelmed. That is normal. Reach out to extended family and friends or to your partner. Even though they are away, there are still things that they can do to help. My husband makes sure all the car maintenance is taken care of before he leaves on his trips, so that is one less thing I have to worry about. Another thing he does is read a bedtime story to our four-year-old over FaceTime, which gives me the opportunity to do something else for a few minutes.
- Reward Yourself: Make sure you schedule in pockets of time for yourself. After the kids are in bed, I usually make myself a cup of chamomile tea or on occasion pour myself a glass of red wine and curl up in bed with my favorite book or catch up on a show on my favorite streaming service. If I’m too exhausted at night, I will wake up an hour earlier than normal and make myself a nice cup of hot coffee and journal/meditate or just simply sit there and enjoy the silence. These quiet moments of the day are yours, so reward yourself and do something that brings you joy and peace.
There is no doubt that solo parenting can be a challenge, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and you have the support that you need to make this time less challenging and more meaningful for you and your kids.