Parenting is challenging whether you are a single parent or part of a parenting team. Frustration is not a stranger to any parent but is often a regular visitor to the single parent. The extra stress for a single parent comes from having to shoulder those day-to-day frustrations alone.
The stress of trying to ensure that your children are being raised “right” and that they are not missing out on any of the things their friends from two-parent households enjoy is overwhelming at times.
Keeping on top of all the household chores, being responsible for the family and work, and a myriad of child-related activities on one’s own adds to the overall burden of parenting; parents may feel that they don’t have enough time for their kids and kids may feel that their parent is too preoccupied with other things to give them the attention they need. Everyone is frustrated and short-tempered as a result. Here are a few tips to help reduce frustration.
Set realistic expectations.
Striving for perfection and super parent’ status is likely to cause burnout. Sometimes we can become overburdened with activities without even realizing it. So the first step is to sit down with a pen and paper and figure out how you spend your time in a typical week.
Review your timetable and ask yourself what you can change and/or eliminate so that you have quality time for yourself as well as quality time to spend with your child. Both of these are very important. Too often parents, especially single parents, rob themselves of personal time and of their own interests in the cause of family responsibilities. The end result of this can be increased stress and fatigue.
Create a consistent routine.
Children cope best and are less frustrated when they have a reasonably predictable routine to follow. This tip is an extension of the previous one in that your goal is to provide a calm, lower-stress home environment. Plan time together every day that is a fun time where your kids have your undivided attention.
Also, schedule homework, meal times, and household chores. But don’t be a slave to your routine, keep it flexible for those spontaneous ideas children love.
Use your support network.
Family and friends are a fantastic resource for childcare, sharing parenting problems and successes, confidence building, and fun together. Knowing when you need help and asking for it is a great strength.
A good support system will be an unexplainable help for you. Parents and friends are often the best. They may be able to give you an occasional break and advice. They will listen as you let out some of the feelings you are going through; if they have ever been single parents, they will understand. They are invaluable to you, especially when the days seem long and the frustration feels the most intense.
If you don’t have a solid support network investigate ways to make new friends. Maybe there are parent and child activity groups you can join to meet other parents.
Model good anger management strategies.
Children learn to deal with frustration and anger by watching their parents. Dealing with frustration more constructively requires a conscious effort. For example, if you are outraged and frustrated at your child’s behavior, rather than immediately reacting negatively, pause for a couple of seconds and take a few deep breaths before you respond.
If you are really upset, take a time out and leave the room until you feel more in control of your anger. Take the opportunity later to explain to your child how these simple strategies can also be helpful to him or her.
Redirect your child’s attention.
Telling a child to stop doing something is frequently futile and may lead to greater frustration for both of you. The art of redirection is a very useful parenting skill and involves being ready to create an interesting diversion to focus your child on something more constructive. Some subtle bribery often works wonders to avert a significant meltdown.
Taking time out to unwind and rejuvenate will help ensure that the stress and pressure don’t just keep building up, ready to blow the top off your calm demeanor at the subsequent slight infraction. Even if taking a few minutes a day to take deep breaths and release the tension for a moment, make it a daily habit.
A warm bath after the little ones are tucked in at night works wonders. Whether it is yoga or strength training, exercise is good for more than just the physical body. It will refresh the mind and spirit, as well. Once in a while, find a sitter you trust and take an evening away from home. Dinner with a friend, a walk on the beach, whatever you enjoy doing, do it, and leave the worries of parenting at home.
Most importantly, keep your sense of humor, give your kids lots of praise and affection, and be kind to yourself.