Daniel Sherwin runs the blog Dadsolo, and gives his advice to newly single fathers finding their own way…
Raising kids can be tough, and the challenge gets no easier when you’re on your own. Taking on the responsibility of a single father is no joke, and the stress, anxiety, and frustration of the increased responsibility can take a toll on your sleep, physical fitness, and mental health. Mental health specialists point out, “The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing.” Here is some advice to help you work through the challenges of single parenting, and end up on top.
Managing Time and Money
Your level of income might have been fine when you were single, and probably even better when combined with your partner’s, but now you’re struggling to make ends meet. Now that you are a single father, how you manage your money and time is crucial to your success moving forward. The challenge comes in juggling your work, your children, and your own personal time. Each is equally important, and are interdependent upon each other. You must make time for one or the other two will suffer.
To master this juggling act, you will need to make sure that your current job is providing you with enough money to support your family, as well as enough time to give to your children and yourself. Have a conversation with your employer about adjusting your schedule to better fit your needs, and look into alternative incomes to provide you with a little extra money to ensure your family’s needs are met.
Doing it Alone
Many single fathers embrace the chip on their shoulder that says, “I can do this all my myself.” This philosophy is not only impractical, but also an easy way to build up stress and resentment towards your lot in life, your children, and yourself. Avoid being angry and overwhelmed, and lean upon family and friends for support. If your schedule is jam-packed, ask a family member to watch over the kids after school, or help prepare dinner on days you need to stay at work after hours. Bringing in friends and family not only will relieve pressure, but also provide your children with additional role models, and teach them the importance of family and togetherness.
Engage with Your Children
So often when you work to provide for your children, you can sometimes forget to form meaningful connections with them. Your relationship as a father needs to go beyond being simply a provider, as your children will look to you for more than just a roof over their heads and their next meal. Take the time to bond with your children, and connect with them on a deeper level. Even the smallest of moments you share with them can make a world of difference in their lives. You will also find that by spending more time with your children, the more you can appreciate the fruits of your hard work. Seeing them grow and witnessing your impact on their lives will reward the challenges you face daily, and remind you that what you’re doing is worthwhile.
It’s so easy for fathers to get wrapped up in the little things that they miss the big picture. If you are feeling stressed, frustrated, and angry, remember to take a step back and evaluate what you are doing and who you are doing it for. It’s natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times, but it’s important to take the time to check in on yourself and make sure that you are doing not just what you’re expected to do, but what’s right for you.