Being a parent is challenging enough, but being a single parent can be much more difficult. If we don't properly manage our stress, we can become less effective as a parent, but also in life. In order to enjoy being a parent, here are a few tips:
- Say No and Set Boundaries: One of the most important tips to reduce stress is to learn to say no. Being a single mom or dad means you are probably stretched pretty thin. Prioritize what really matters and be especially vigilant about saying no to those things that don't. Be realistic in assessing what you are capable of doing and what you aren't and most of all, don't beat yourself up for saying "no." Setting boundaries will allow you to better manage your time and allow you to be your best.
- Build in You-Time: As a single parent, you probably have very little time for yourself. Building in alone time gives your mind and body the rest it needs to go full-steam ahead the rest of the time. At least once a week, do one of the following (or anything else that relaxes you): Take a bath, get a massage, read a book, do yoga or meditate, take a walk in a non-crowded place.
- Maintain a Healthy Regimen: Maintaining a healthy regimen is one of my favorite tips to reduce stress. Eating right and exercising allows your body to be physically up for the challenges you face being a single mom or dad. Further, exercise helps to release built up tension. Lastly, the healthier you are, the less likely you'll be to catch the bugs that your children bring home. If your children are young, consider buying a Jogging Stroller (Buy here) so that you can go for walks or runs with your child. Also, many gyms offer day care services for parents.
- Sleep: As challenging as this can be, make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is important in maintaining a healthy immune system, and functioning properly and effectively throughout the day. Try to instill sound sleep schedules with your child early on so that they get into healthy sleeping habits themselves.
- Build a Support Network: One of the best ways to relieve tension is to build your support network. Being a single parent doesn't mean that you are alone. Whether you have family members who live close by or you are part of a playgroup, finding other individuals who you count on to "help out" or provide you with some reprieve. Look in your community for different groups geared towards families, and network with the mothers and fathers to build a network you can lean on.
- Cut Yourself Some Slack. Try to set realistic expectations of yourself and of your children. You can't be everything to everyone. Be realistic about what you can do and don't beat up on yourself if you slip up once in awhile…
Do you find being a single parent especially stressful? What do you do to reduce stress?
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