Being a single parent is not for the faint of heart. Taking over responsibility as primary caregiver while dealing with your own challenges can be exhausting and overwhelming, even on the best of days.
Many single parents struggle to feel sufficiently supported in their position as both mom and dad, and with good reason. In a traditional partnership, tasks get shared and delegated rather than automatically assigned to one individual.
Particularly in situations where there are multiple children to look after, single parenthood can feel scary and isolating. You never have enough time to do everything needed, and your energy levels naturally have their limitations.
Being a single parent is like managing two jobs at once. It isn’t impossible, but it can result in mental, emotional, and physical burnout that is difficult to erase. For parents belonging to the sandwich generation, these responsibilities might even feel debilitating.
Having to support the weight of your own troubles alongside your kids’ (and sometimes, your own parents) can feel like a lonely task. But there are ways to find the support you need.
Single parents have prevailed since the dawn of mankind through social and communal support systems. Your partner may no longer be in the picture. But that doesn’t mean you are entirely without support.
There are friends, family, neighbors, and members of your local community who can levy your responsibilities and support you in moments of crisis. If you are a single parent in need of support, this article is for you.
Why A Support System Is Crucial For Single Parents
Parenthood is naturally a lot easier when there are two, committed adults present. However, modern day life has proven there are many different ways to go about parenthood. And there is always a way to make things work to your advantage.
Whether you are a single parent or not, chances are you belong to the sandwich generation. The term given to people in their thirties and forties caught between taking care of their children and their parents. It’s not an easy dynamic to balance.
But regardless of how many people you may be responsible for looking after, parents of all types often find themselves hamstrung by the constant motion and input it requires. Having to show up every day for so many people (in addition to yourself) can be an expensive process—in more ways than one.
At the end of the day, every parent deserves a community that supports them in moments of need. And every child deserves a parent that has the time and energy to invest in them.
With a functional support system in place, both partnered and single parents can give themselves, their kids, and their parents the attention and love that is necessary for living a happy, contented life.
A life with the time to invest in personal hobbies and activities, for exercise and self-care. Without access to these things, no one can be expected to perform at full capacity.
Healthy meals get prepared on time, morning trips to school are less stressful, and handling finances can become a more manageable task. All parents deserve access to resources and social support that carry them through the worst of times and into the best ones.
4 Different Ways Single Parents Can Build A Support System
If you are a parent that is struggling to find local support, you are not alone. Millions of parents (both single and partnered) around the world feel uncomfortable asking for help. Or are simply unsure about where to find it.
Here are five different ways that you might find support in your area:
1. Find a babysitter or carer you can trust
A trustworthy, reliable babysitter or caregiver can provide invaluable support for any parent, single or otherwise. The kind of flexibility that a regular babysitter facilitates reduces the load of responsibility that parenthood brings. The same goes for a carer if your elderly parents rely on you.
If you’re a single parent, consider seeing a babysitter or caregiver (or both!) as a long-term investment rather than a luxury. Whether you anticipate work or other emergencies, want to go on a date, enjoy some me-time, or just have a break, having someone you trust in your employ is hugely beneficial.
2. Get involved in your local community
If you’re feeling isolated and disconnected from your local community, it’s probably because you are. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. It might surprise you how many people in your area are willing to help, but they need to get to know you first.
In order to reap the benefits of a community, you need to participate in it. Attend neighborhood barbeques, take your kids to the local park, and try and involve your parents in community events too. Striking up a conversation with another parent could mean the beginning of a new friendship that is mutually beneficial.
3. Seek support and guidance from online communities
If you’re very pandemic-conscious or a little socially awkward, initiating conversations with strangers can be difficult. However, there is more than one way to bond with your local community, and one of those ways is via the internet.
There are plenty of accessible online forums and community hotspots that focus on sharing experiences, advice, support, and guidance that all parent types can benefit from.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help requires so much courage. Especially for single parents, it’s easy to feel as though you are constantly overstepping your family and friends’ boundaries when you ask them for support.
However, the people in your life that love you want to support you, and will probably speak up if their boundaries are being stepped over. Have the courage to ask for help when you need it, and over time, things will become easier to manage on your own.
Putting off asking for help will only perpetuate your fatigue. Start where you are, and be honest with yourself about when you are in need of support. Your needs matter just as much as anyone else’s.
Single parents don’t have to carry the burden of looking after loved ones alone. With a little bit of effort, creating a solid support system can reduce stress for everyone involved and make life a lot easier.