Living life as a single parent might feel isolating, but more than 24 million children in the United States were living in a single-parent home in 2011, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Like their coupled counterparts, the daily life of a single parent is centered around shuttling kids to and from activities, working, doing housework -- and when there's a little time, having some fun.
The most obvious element that single parents lack is the in-house support they might have received from another adult. To find that support, single parents can take part in social activities that pair them with other single parents. Single parents can attend support groups organized by Parents Without Partners or other local groups found at sites such as MeetUp.com or Craigslist.org. (See Resources) Single parent groups might meet for social outings, or help arrange child-swaps that allow parents time for work or socializing without children.
Home and Work
The daily activities related to work and the home can consume almost all of a single parent's time. Single parents are the sole breadwinners, covering the mortgage or rent, utilities, car payments, child care, and all the extras with only one paycheck. When they get home from work, single parents take on the burden of cleaning, cooking, helping with homework and other domestic duties. One way single parents manage to cope is by getting kids to help. Getting your child to do chores can be a hassle that takes more time in the beginning, reminds Oberlin College professor Nancy Darling in an article in "Psychology Today," but you'll be helping your child be more competent. Plus, it might mean you all have more time for fun activities together.
To deal with the stress of raising children alone, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension recommends single parents take part in exercise or relaxation activities, such as exercise, yoga, meditation or simply spending time with loved ones and friends. It's easy to get overwhelmed and spend all your time doing household chores or catching up on work, but your health is important. Set aside time after the kids go to bed or on your lunch break, or wake up a bit earlier in the morning to give yourself even 10 minutes to do what you love, recommends the UNH Cooperative Extension.
It might sometimes feel as if fun comes last -- but being a single parent doesn't have to mean that pleasurable activities are out of the question. Like the running of the household, single parents get the final say about what fun activities the family takes part in. No fights about football vs. fine dining or choosing the movies over the monster truck rally. Single parents can take part in any recreational activities that other families do -- so long as they're able to keep their kids in check and attend to their needs. If you need help in the "attending to needs" department, team up with another single parent for fun outings. The other adult can be there to watch over the rest of the brood while your little one gets the attention he needs.