Without a doubt, being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs around. Not only do you have to be the financial provider holding down a regular job or two – but you must also provide emotional support for your children on a daily basis. The most successful single parents—mothers and fathers alike—develop strategies that allow them to accomplish this double-duty. Here are four habits that that highly effective single parents regularly use:
Effective Single Parents Stick to Routines
This particular habit is not just for their benefit but also for the children’s. A routine allows everyone to play their designated part with little to no communication. This attribute is especially valuable when a single finds them running behind schedule. Instead of ordering the children with specific commands, they can just say, “Do what you normally do.” in addition, it is a well-established fact that children like order and will adapt to a routine far faster than the average parent would expect.
Try a little experiment. Just have your kids butter their own toast. It only saves you seconds but multiply that by the number of kids and the number of days you do it and you will have saved ten minutes. Now, do it with a number of other activities and a single parent will shave hours off of the time that they must deal with such mundane matters. Best of all, you still get to talk to your kids while they are helping you out. It is a win-win situation.
They Set Goals Based on a Vision
No one does really well unless they have some idea of where they are headed. That is why companies develop a “vision statement.” it gets everyone in the team pulling in the same direction instead of all over the place. While not as formalized, the same idea applies to a single parent family situation. The mom or dad must instill in the children a sense of what they are trying to achieve as a family. It may be as simple as showing up on time for dinner or as complicated as getting into college.
Setting definable goals is the first step in achieving this vision and makes the task a whole lot easier especially when dealing with the youngest members of a family. To build on the earlier analogy of getting into college – children should be taught that their responsibility lies in getting their homework done before they watch television or jump onto the Xbox or PlayStation. This task can be particularly difficult for a single parent who may not be in the house because of work but older children can be given some of the responsibility for ensuring compliance.
Prioritization is Key for Single Parent Families
Let us face up to the fact that a single parent simply cannot do as much for their family as a two parent family can. There are just not enough hours in the day for a single person to work, clean, cook and sleep. Still, a single parent can touch upon the most relevant duties by prioritizing and giving themselves a break once in a while. This habit also helps to show kids – when presented with a dizzying and sometimes overwhelming – number of tasks that there is an option – one thing at a time with the most important being done first. It is not an inconsequential lesson and one that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives.
For example, a home cooked meal is probably best in terms of both wholesomeness and affordability but a take-out pizza every Thursday night could be a welcome respite for a single dad who is already overwhelmed by cooking and cleaning up on the other six days of the week. Plus, kids love pizza, right? An added benefit of pizza or some other takeout food is that it allows everybody to just relax at the dinner table – or in front of the television – and talk. What a concept—talking to your kids—it is a beautiful thing.
The Most Effective Single Parents Cooperate with Their Ex
Nothing breeds discord in a single parent household more than animosity with an ex-spouse. While a single parent cannot protect their kids from everything, they can, at the very least, insulate them from the issues surrounding the divorce or separation. This advice does not mean that the custodial parent lie to the children but that that they leave many of the details out of the discussion. In short, just because one spouse chose to leave the relationship doesn’t mean that the children stopped loving the non-custodial parent.
In many cases, it is hard for either single parent to put up a brave front but it is necessary. Still, it must be done, as in the long run, it’s in the best interests of the children. In addition, it is best to fight these domestic battles with your ex-spouse through your attorney or in the courts. The children never need to know about any of the animosity that prevails. Even better, the most effective single parents make peace with their ex-spouse and give a little leeway when necessary. The court’s rulings may be set in stone when it comes to visitation rights and the like, but the most effective single parents make some allowances so everyone’s life is a much easier and less antagonistic.
For more information on how single parents can legally protect their rights as a custodial or non-custodial parent, please contact us at The Firm for Men. Schedule a family law consultation with our father’s rights attorneys at 757-383-9184 today. We serve all of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach to Newport News!