Being a parent can be a full-time job in itself, and in today’s world it is becoming more and more common to be both a parent of young children and be in other full-time employment in order to pay and care for your family in the necessary ways. This job can become even harder when you add to the equation the fact that single parenthood is now more commonplace than ever before, with single fathers in particular taking on a huge amount of responsibility in raising a child or children and still having to work full-time hours in another job.
It is estimated that there are approximately two million fathers raising their children single-handedly in the United States, many who are divorced, but also many were never married in the first place. The daily routine of waking up, feeding the kids, getting them clean, getting them to school, getting yourself to work, picking them up at the end of the day, getting dinner together, getting them to bed and then starting all over again can be rewarding personally but can also be incredibly difficult and leave very little time for anything else. In an attempt to help somewhat, here are ten ways to balance work and life as a single dad.
Prepare The Night Before
The morning rush can often be the most stressful time of the day for a single dad. To decrease this stress and make the morning go as smoothly as possible, prepare as much as you can for wake up time during the previous evening. Things like prepping tomorrow’s breakfast, laying out the day’s clothes for the kids, and making all the packed lunches in advance can make the morning so much easier.
Utilize The Internet
The internet is wonderful thing; make the most of it to help with single parenting! Do your weekly grocery shop online to keep the price consistent without the kids adding extra products to the cart. Also, set up direct debits to pay your bills whenever possible so that you don’t have to carve out time in your already busy day to sift through letters and write checks.
Create An Understanding With Your Employer
To avoid being overloaded and overworked, it is vital that you come to some sort of understanding with your employer to create a working environment and lifestyle that is suitable to raising your children. If leaving thirty minutes earlier means that your entire evening runs more smoothly, then it is worth lobbying your boss.
Being a single dad, you will most probably have to have contact with the mother of your children to uphold the legally required visitation that each parent is entitled to. To make sure your lives stay as uninterrupted as possible, always keep a detailed calendar of the visitation schedule and make sure that both parties uphold the agreements.
Amass A Support Circle
Being a single parent can be the hardest thing in the world, and it would be fair to say that being a single dad is even harder as men tend to be less open about their need for help. You really need to gather a circle of support, whether it be other parents from school, an online forum or just family and close friends. Make sure you have somebody to share your thoughts and feelings with.
Have A Back-Up Plan
A great single dad can run his household like a tight ship, but there is nothing that can be done if the power goes out, or the stove breaks. Even smaller problems than those can really mess up a household, so make sure you have a back-up plan in place for if you ever need one. Even just a neighbor who promises that you could bathe the kids ready for school the next morning would be brilliant.
Set Personal Goals
It’s easy to see that the life of a single dad can be absolutely consumed by his children, but in order to keep some mature balance it’s a good idea to set personal goals for yourself as well as for your children. Whether it’s committing to carving out a night a fortnight to get to the gym, or getting out on a weekend to enjoy some adult company, you have to think about yourself too.
Leave Work At Work
You have enough to worry about in your home life; it will only compound your stress if you continue to bring the problems of your working life home with you. Sure, it can be hard to mentally separate work and home, but you will find that if you do, your kids will notice your increased attention and focus and will reward you with better behavior as well as you feeling a weight off your shoulders every time you leave the office.
Take Care Of Your Health
Sometimes you can spend so much time concentrating on others that you forget to take care of yourself. Think about it this way – you are going to be no good to anyone, both at home and work, if you make yourself ill. Keep on top of your health and you will find that walking the single dad tight rope between home life and work life gets easier and easier the better you feel within yourself. Eat as well as you can, get as much sleep as you can, and don’t work yourself in to the ground.
One of the key struggles of single parenthood can be the danger of over-committing with both kids and work. You need to strive to achieve that perfect balance where you are not giving too much to one and not enough to the other. It will upset your kids and allow your employer to take advantage of you. If you abide by all of the points set above, you should have no problem with over-committing, as you would be doing everything in your power to be the best single dad that you can be.