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If you’re struggling with solo parenting, you should know you’re absolutely not alone! These are the top 7 issues solo parents face and solutions to help.
Solo parenting is one of the hardest, weirdest things to deal with. When you’re a police wife, it’s pretty much always going to be an unfortunate part of the gig.
The entire time we’ve been parents, I’ve largely acted as a solo parent. I’ve written before about how my husband had to go to mandatory firearms training 8 hours after I had an emergency C-section. No really, 8 hours.
And after that, he had a week on/week off schedule consisting of 12 hour shifts. It didn’t get easier.
Even now, even though he isn’t currently in law enforcement, as he takes care of his physical health issues, parenting has been largely on me still.
It’s not because my husband is lazy. It’s not that he doesn’t want to help. It’s just that the situation hasn’t been conducive to him helping all the time, whether it’s because he’s physically not home or just in too much pain to do so.
I don’t begrudge him for it – usually. Because I understand all that.
But that doesn’t make it easy.
That’s why I wanted to write this post: because I know solo parenting is hard, and I want to help others who are in the same situation.
Top 7 Challenges of Solo Parenting and The Best Solutions To Help
It might seem weird to feel lonely when you’re never actually alone, but it’s not uncommon. When you’re dealing with kiddos all day who constantly need something from you, it’s not like you get to talk to someone who understands (or even necessarily cares about what you’re struggling with.)
It’s easy to feel like you’re all alone.
The best solution I have to this feeling is arranging playdates. I mean, calling or texting a friend can always help, but if you can set your kids free to play together and focus on your conversation instead, it’s a lot more relaxing.
I’m not saying doing so is easy. Finding mom friends feels a lot like dating at times, and not everyone you meet is going to be a match made in heaven – for you or for your kids.
That’s okay. Just try. Even if you can only make 1-2 really great mom friends, that’s enough! And they’re probably just as desperate for friendship as you are, which means getting together is going to be high priority for both of you 🙂
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the loneliness. In both cases, reaching out and spending time with friends helps, but the overwhelm has other issues with it, too.
Honestly, kids are overwhelming. It doesn’t matter if you have one or five (or more). They need you all the time, for everything. Sometimes, you don’t want to be needed anymore – even just for ten minutes.
And on top of that, solo parenting means a lot of solo cooking, cleaning, shopping, and so on and so forth. That’s a lot for one person to have on their plate.
As such, the best solution for feeling overwhelmed is threefold:
One: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Even if it’s hard to find help, even if you have to scrounge to pay for it or swap childcare with a friend, do what you can to get help – whether it’s a break from the kids or help cleaning your house.
Believe me, there’s bound to be someone out there who’d love to help you out. You just have to have the courage to admit you can’t do it all yourself.
Two: Eliminate as much as you can from your to do list.
I’m not advocating that you let your house fall into shambles or neglect your kids or anything. There’s a happy medium here called “choosing what to prioritize.”
Let’s be real: you’re not in a position to make everything happen, all at once. You have so much time, so many hands, and so much energy. Use what you’ve got to do the things that are most important to you and your family.
I mean, I know families who vacuum every single day and it’s ludicrous to me. I’d rather spend that time making sure the dishes or done – or that meals are made that don’t totally suck, things like that. And connecting with kids, of course.
But every single person has things that matter more to them than other things. Identify the things you care about most, and make them your priority.
Bonus tip: Put your kids to work as much as possible. If they’re little and more of a burden, try to bite your tongue when you’re frustrated – if you make it a joy to help when they’re little, they’re more likely to be more of a help later on 😉
Three: Give yourself some grace.
Maybe you’re Type A and the last tip gave you a total panic attack. I get it. But you don’t have to do things perfectly to be exactly what your family needs.
Be willing to accept that there’s only so much you can do, take a deep breath, and get back to doing the stuff that matters most.
Being short with your kids because you haven’t had a break.
I had a playdate with one of my friends who is pretty much the best mom I know. She’s super patient and in tune with what her child needs, even when he’s throwing tantrums and being unreasonable. I admire it so much, but it’s made me feel somewhat inadequate at times.
One day, her son was having a particularly hard day. She mentioned how she can only keep her cool when she knows her husband will be home to relieve her later that day, and how things look so much different when he’s on business trips and such.
It was a total lightbulb moment for me: of course I don’t have the same level of patience and “coolness” as her. I have a lot longer time period that patience has to span without relief.
It made me connect with her more (because I realized we weren’t actually all that different) and make me feel like I wasn’t a total failure as a mom.
Honestly, when you haven’t had a break, it’s natural your patience is eventually going to run out. Even the most patient person has their limits, and even the best kids have a tendency to push past those limits.
When you’re feeling this way, do what you can to get a break, even if it’s short. Even if it just means locking your kids in their playroom for a bit while you take some deep breaths and relax. Even if it’s just a solo bathroom trip.
Really burned out? Find a sitter, stat. $10-20 for a few hours of babysitting is worth your sanity, and cheaper than therapy – for you or them 😉
Feeling judged for your parenting skills.
I’ve gotta say, the worst thing ever is when you’re out with your kids after a long day of them misbehaving and you snap. I mean, screaming, taking away toys, melting down – the whole nine yards.
Because I tell you, the people around you haven’t seen the rest of your day. They have no idea what you’re going through, what you’re dealing with, and what kind of mood your kids have been in that day.
They just don’t know.
And while there are a few wonderful souls out there who are more than willing to extend sympathy and grace your way, there’s an equal number who will give you the stink eye and a snide remark.
Trust me – I know how much that hurts. How much more it makes you want to break down.
When this situation comes up, please take a deep breath and remember you’re not failing. They don’t know you. They don’t know your kids.
And on the flip side, remember how that feels when someone else is melting down in the future and be willing to help 🙂 Because that’s one way to make sure the haters don’t win, is to not be one yourself.
Feeling judged for your lifestyle in general.
If you’ve been solo parenting for any length of time, it’s likely you’ve run into someone who just doesn’t understand what it’s like for you. Maybe they judge you, maybe they judge your husband – whatever it is, it’s super frustrating.
I know I’ve encountered people who’ve said, at the height of my husband’s pain issues, “I’d never tolerate my husband laying in bed all day.” As though I’m a battered wife who allows him to just be lazy, not a strong woman who stands by his side, willing to help him in whatever way I can. Yeah, that was not so pleasant.
Truth is, people don’t understand because it’s not the “norm”. People occasionally have similar experiences that can make them more sympathetic, but if they’ve always experienced an able-bodied husband who comes home from work at the same time, every day, to give them a break, they just have no idea.
In addition to giving yourself the grace to accept yourself as you are, try to give other people grace, too. Their thoughtless comments might be their way of intentionally hurting you, sure. They’re probably not, though – and even if they are, it’s not really any of your business.
If you feel inclined, you can explain what things are like for you. You can talk about your struggles. More often than not, it may not be worth it. You’ll have to feel it out for yourself whether to fight the battle or walk away and accept that they don’t understand.
Mom guilt overload.
Remember that your kids don’t need to see you being perfect. It won’t harm them to see you struggling with patience, with anger, with money – with anything. The struggle isn’t the issue, it’s how you face it. That’s what they’ll learn from most, so do what you can to grow and improve over time.
As you do so, you can also talk to your kids. They won’t always understand, but you might be surprised.
For instance, I get stressed out about money a lot. Sometimes I can’t hide how stressed out I am from my son, so I try to talk to him about how I’m feeling before I take it out on him.
Does he understand the intricacies of debt and bill payments at just shy of four years old? Nope. But he’s experienced the frustration of not having enough money for the things he wants to buy.
Also, even though your kids do need you and your presence is important, that doesn’t mean you need to do everything for them. It’s okay for you to ask them to take age-appropriate responsibility for themselves and their belongings, and allow natural consequences to occur when they don’t.
You’re not failing them by asking them to be independent as much as possible. In fact, you’re probably shaping them into more capable adults in the future.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to that of others. It’s easy to start getting jealous of how easy their life appears to be and complain about the fact that yours doesn’t look like that. Or that their kids don’t behave like yours do. Or any number of things.
It could be because you’re friends with someone who appears to be freakishly like Super Mom. Maybe it’s just because you’re inundated by “mom shaming” Facebook/Instagram posts – or just posts that look completely perfect, peaceful, and beautiful.
Don’t be fooled by those facades.
Everyone has struggles. Everyone fails sometimes. There is absolutely no such thing as the perfect parent. There’s no such thing as the perfect life.
So don’t be so hard on yourself and your life. You were given your life for a reason. It’s to help make you who you need to be.
Solo parenting is by no means an easy gig, but you’ve got this! No matter how many struggles come your way, you can get through them all.