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Balancing life as a single parent

by Kim Jacobs

Posted on September 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 28 at 9:02 AM

Most people visualize a family picture with two parents.  However, according to the 2000 census Bureau of Household and Family Statistics, the reality is that 27% of family households with children under 18 years of age are single parents.  In addition, one out of two children will live in a single parent family during their childhood years. The life of a single parent can be extremely hectic. In addition to parenting and taking care of your home, you may be working and/or going to school. The following tips will help you balance being a single parent:

1) Help your child mentally adjust.  Split households can affect children negatively, especially in the beginning.  Allow your child to talk freely about their feelings and reassure them that things will work out fine.

2) Let go of the Past. Most single parents have been hurt in the past and as a result have a difficult time loving again.  Do everything you can to let the past go so that you can offer your family your best self.  Don’t hold your children accountable for what happened in your past and don’t put any new love that you establish through extra scrutiny as a result of your past.

3) Remember that you can’t do it all.  Accept the fact that there will be times when things are not done to perfection and that is alright. As a single parent you cannot "do it all," no matter how hard you try. Do what you can and be clear with your children what you won’t be able to do at that time.

4)  Fulfill your social needs.  It is healthy for you and your children to have friendships outside of the family.  It is also a good idea to join a local or online single parents group to connect with people that understand what you are going through.

5) Be careful about exposing a date to your children.   Be slow and wise about bringing people around your children.  Avoid introducing a date to your children too soon.  Make sure this person is a good role model.  Try your best to understand their motives and intentions before exposing them to your family.

6) You can’t be both parents.  Oftentimes, single parents try to wear both hats as mom and dad.  You can‘t be both parents no matter how hard you try.  You can identify a mentor for your child to have a positive influence over his/her life. For example, moms raising a child by themselves may find it helpful to involve an uncle or friend to be a male role model for their child. A father may find an aunt or friend to fill the place of a female role model for his child. There are local organizations and local churches that provide mentors to families in this situation.

7) Your child is not your peer. Single parents sometimes make the mistake of allowing their children to become an equal partner with them.  Sometimes, the children are running the single parent household.  It is necessary to establish clear and firm boundaries with your children to reinforce that you are the boss in your house.  Be consistent in your discipline.

8) Ask for help when necessary. It is easy as a single parent to feel overwhelmed with responsibility.  It is so important to ask for help when you need it.  Assign your children chores.  Collaborate with other parents to get your children to some of their extracurricular activities.  You can’t be everywhere at the same time.  Ask family and friends to babysit when you need a night out.

9) Take care of yourself.  If you plan to care for your children properly, you have to take care of yourself properly.   Pay special attention to your diet, exercise, and get the proper rest at night. Go to the movies, take a bubble bath, get a manicure/ pedicure.  Learn whatever stress relieving techniques you can to help you better cope with your situation. Remember, if you are stressed out, your children will be stressed out too.

10) Remind yourself that you are doing a great job.  As a single parent you have to congratulate yourself. No matter how loving and competent you are, you are still only one person and you are doing a job of two people. Give yourself credit for a job well done.

You can watch my television talk show, Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs, on PBS - WTVI every Saturday at 10:00 AM.   If you would like to hear more tips from me, you can see me as the Daily Balance Expert every Wednesday for a segment on Charlotte Today (WCNC – News Channel 36) between 11:00 AM -12:00 PM. You can also visit and send me an email with specific questions. Thank you for your continued support.