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A New Normal: The Challenges of Being a Single Father

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Single moms and dads have more in common than you might think! Click To Tweet

This is a guest post by Daniel Sherwin of Dadsolo.com

Daniel has been a single dad to his daughter (9) and son (6) for three years, and valiantly admits that he doesn’t always know what the heck he’s doing – I am with you on that one Daniel!
Seeing every day as an adventure and a blessing has helped him through tough times and on his blog he shares the resources that has worked for him.

Men who suddenly find themselves as single parents face a hard, new reality that can make it difficult to be the father you want to be. If you were an active and engaged dad when married, you’re likely to find that quality time with your kids isn’t so easy to come by anymore.

When you’re married, you’re part of a natural parenting team. There was usually always someone to help share the burden when it all gets to be too much.

There’s the pressure of having to maintain a healthy home environment while being a supportive, loving father. And, just for good measure, single fathers often come up against the stigma that says men don’t make good single parents because nurturing doesn’t come naturally to them. It’s a tough scenario, and some men struggle to overcome the unique, new challenges they face.

Discipline

Being both disciplinarian and supportive, sympathetic parent requires flexibility and the ability to listen. Your children may have a hard time accepting the situation if your wife took the lead where discipline was concerned. In many cases, dads feel guilty about a death, divorce or separation and may overcompensate by being too lenient when discipline is called for. In such a situation, showing tough love can be difficult, especially if your kids are still emotionally raw. Nevertheless, it’s important to stand your ground and be firm when needed. Remember that children need structure and a clear understanding of who’s in charge.

Support

If you and your ex-spouse aren’t on good terms, chances are you can’t rely on moral support from her when it comes to the children. Dads who have a hard time with single parenthood often struggle because they have no support system, no one to share thoughts, feelings and frustrations with. Seek out friends and family when you need a sympathetic ear. If divorce has left you without many options, consider joining a support group for single fathers in your community, or on line.

Finances

Making ends meet is often a real challenge for single dads. You’re the sole breadwinner, which means you’re responsible for expenses you once shared with your ex. That can be a big hit to the wallet. If you’ve never had to budget before, you’ll have to learn now. Start by eliminating non-essentials like cable TV or eating out. It’ll be rough at first, but everyone will get used to the “new normal.”

Some single parents find it necessary to take on a second job, but that can become a problem if babysitters are hard to find, and when you start feeling run down. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be an effective parent.

Self-care

Try to mark out a little time for yourself each day just to relax and think. If possible, work in a little exercise during a lunch break, or after the kids are in bed. 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. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, getting help and making good choices are paramount, for you and your children.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a single father takes some getting used to. It’s hard work, and you’ll make a mistake now and then. Be open to help and advice from those closest to you and take care not to neglect your physical and emotional needs.

Thank you Daniel for this great article! Seeing the single-parent life from a dad’s perspective has made my realise that we might have more in common that we think.

This has been a guest post by Daniel Sherwin of Dadsolo.com

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Some good notes and some bad notes…

Live in the present and make it beautiful Click To Tweet

“Don’t cry over the past, it’s gone.
Don’t stress about the future, it hasn’t arrived.
Live in the present and make it beautiful.”

This has been such a tough one for me this past week. Several things triggered hurtful memories from my past and it completely overwhelmed me to the point of tears. Every. Single. Day. For an entire week. Not good people. Not good.
But a dear friend spoilt me with coffee and a much needed chat that gave me some perspective. Things are looking more hopeful this week as I continue on my path of healing.

“Life is like a piano, the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.”

How beautiful is this metaphor? It is really resonating with me as well since I started practising playing piano again after so many years this week. Pressing so many wrong notes in real life and on the piano. But as I tell my daughter: practice, practice, practice. Maybe if I look at my life’s journey as one long practice session, and stopping expecting some degree of perfection, it might help me get through it with less pressure on myself.

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5 Essential tips for a working single mom – Part 1

5 Essential tips for a working single mom Click To Tweet

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my tips for creating a bit more space in your life as a working, single mom.

My first tip is a go-to one that I started when my daughter was still a toddler. I needed all the extra time I could get (who doesn’t?) and prepping multiple meals in one go was one way to do it. Use containers appropriate for freezing  and remember to put a description and date on the lid. You’ll thank me in 6 months’ time when you find a “Frozen Wonder” at the back of the freezer – you know, you ‘wonder’ what it might be? 🙂

Tip #1: Meal-prepping

This is not just for die hard weight lifters and super fit millennials out there. Preparing a few meals over a weekend when you have more time (hopefully), will definitely save your sanity on a school night when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook a healthy meal.

  • When you cook a batch of Bolognaise sauce, or something similar, double up and freeze smaller portions for later. Why not use this awesome local recipe from Knorr.

Knorr Bolognaise

  • Make sure you use lots of veggies and get creative in sneaking them into meals:
    • Add pureed carrot (jars of baby food) to any tomato based sauce for spaghetti or macaroni & cheese.
    • Add half a cup of pureed cauliflower to your cheese sauce for mac and cheese – I promise you, the taste is barely noticeable!
    • Add pureed spinach to any chocolate dessert – the cocoa will mask the taste and colour of the spinach.

What is your cooking tip for busy working moms?

 

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It could be worse…

Stop negative thought patterns with these few words... Click To Tweet

These 4 simple words have saved my sanity a lot over the last few months. After my first divorce in 2008 a friend shared this thought with me. At first I thought it was quite harsh advice, because I was looking for sympathy and a hug. Luckily, reminding myself of this over the years has stopped me from having crooked thought patterns and going into negative overdrive. Last night it saved me when my washing machine almost broke! Being my first load of laundry in my new apartment made it a big deal when the machine suddenly started beeping nonstop and wouldn’t drain. 45 minutes later with the help of my trusty 10-year old’s help we managed to fix the issue. And really – it could have been worse! I have dry floors and clean clothes instead of a broken, leaking machine. Which would have cost an arm & leg to repair too.

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Creating space for uncertainty

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Staying positive amid uncertainty is one of the hardest lessons I am learning. Letting go of worry is not my strong point, but a habit that I need to break. Being in control lets me feel calm and safe. And not knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of my future make me uncomfortable.

How do I relax?

 

 

How do I create space for these feelings of uncertainty when they break over me like never-ending waves? Suffocating me. Taking my joy.

 

All I know is that I have to persist in the face of doubts. Just keeping on. Pushing through. Trusting that all will be well.

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How choosing progress over perfection can lessen heartache

Choosing progress over perfection... Click To Tweet

Sometimes I just need to focus on this simple truth that ‘good enough’ and ‘done’ is more important. Baby steps toward a better future. There is no rush. My timing is perfect. It will all work out how it should.

Even though I may feel sad AF. And it feels like my heart is shattering into a millions pieces.

I can do this. I have done this. This time I have more wisdom on my side, and it truly helps. I know that feeling all the emotions is better than trying to deny them space.

Creating space for sadness and heartache will help lessen the pain and hopefully make healing much softer. At this point in time I don’t know exactly what my future holds and that is OK with me.

I am making progress.

And that is enough. ❤️

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Overwhelm vs. Resilience – which one will win today?

Overwhelm vs. Resilience Click To Tweet

Who is going to be the winner today??

Or will I just succumb and spend the day crying in my bed…

Dealing with tough personal issues can be overwhelming and lead to numbness and not taking action.
I have learned that it is okay to flirt with sadness, but not start a relationship with it!
So this morning I had a good cry, got up when I felt better and did something good for me. For me only.
My spirits are lifted and I know that I am strong enough to get through this day…and the next…and the next.

I will rest in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Onward and upward!!

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Tension saps your energy…

What do you do to recharge your energy? Click To Tweet

tension creates fatigue

If you live with constant tension in your life, whether from work, relationships or health issues, it will really put a drain on your energy reserves. Finding ways to relax and recharge that works for you is essential.

Deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk in nature or along the beach, journalling or making your favourite beverage, are all things that work for me.

Most importantly I find that spending time alone, with no distractions does it for me.

What works for you?

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How collages can help you live a better life

This past week my daughter has been feeling a bit down on herself and I wanted to try and help her. Because I have been having so much fun with my own doodling and art journaling, I thought we could do something creative together. The end result was a morning spent collaging.

I collected some old magazines, glue and scissors and we were ready to get going!

Collage is a great activity for exploring feelings Click To Tweet

I wanted the activity to really calm her, so I also played some relaxing music and had her choose the fragrance to put in the oil burner. She chose sandalwood, which smells wonderful. (But I now know gives me hay fever. I was sneezing the whole time!)

I don’t know who enjoyed it more: me or her! We engaged in some girl-talk and I think I got a more clear idea of what was bothering her. Her collage was mostly about things she saw that was beautiful to her: lots of flowers; and lots of yummy deliciousness: cakes, pies, strawberries, and ribs – her favourite! Mine is a definite mirror of where my mind is lately: colourful, crafty and nature.

Collaging for exploring a child's emotions | www.evolveself.co.zacollage_A 1

Collage is a great activity for exploring feelings because it feels less threatening than other art activities like painting and drawing. My daughter tends to be a little perfectionistic and I didn’t want her to focus on not drawing ‘good enough’. I just wanted her to have a little fun and get us talking without being too serious.

I think collaging is a great way to engage with yourself or your child, it surely helped us work through some rough feelings.

What techniques do you use to work through some feelings after having a rough week?

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Give your dream wings

I have been looking online for a little help on my art journalling. I always love to do a lot of research on a new project/interest and this Art Journalling is no different. I also have to be mindful to not let in stay in the research stage, because I can easily get stuck there and never go over and take some action!
But this little free course Give Your Dream Wings by Andrea Schroeder from CreativeDreamIncubator is really doing some magic for me.

She also wrote a wonderful post about working with energy containers for magic … read more here. Amazing stuff!

There is fun in giving your dream wings Click To Tweet
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