This is a guest blog post by Daniel Sherwin of www.dadsolo.com. Many thanks to Daniel for submitting his post to us for publication.
How to Create Structure for Happier Single Parenting
At work, you’re a rockstar. You knock out deadlines ahead of time, get along with your coworkers, and receive regular praise from your boss. But at home, it seems like you can never do anything right. The house is a mess, the kids are throwing tantrums, and you’re at the end of your rope. But just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you have to accept a hectic home life. Here are five things you can do to get it under control.
Create Household Routines
As a single parent, you juggle a lot of responsibilities. But if your children are school-age, chasing after them to get ready each morning and night shouldn’t be one of them. Create daily routines so that your kids know what’s expected of them. In addition to bedtime and morning routines, schedule homework for the same time each day and try to keep mealtimes consistent. Hanging a written schedule in a highly visible location helps your kids stay on track when introducing new routines.
Keep a Calendar
Between custody swaps, extracurricular activities, playdates, and doctor appointments, there’s a lot to keep track of on a daily basis. Dropping the ball once in a while is inevitable; you forget about a friend’s birthday party or send your kid to picture day in rumpled clothes. But you can help everyone stay on top of scheduled activities by maintaining a family calendar. Coordinate parenting schedules with your ex using an online calendar like these suggestions from Lifewire, and hang a big paper calendar on the fridge so you and the kids can see what each day holds.
Clean as You Go
With everything that’s on your plate, sometimes chores take the back burner. But leave them too long, and you’ll be drowning in a mess with no idea how to start fixing it. Rather than letting chores build up, make a habit of cleaning as you go. Do the dishes before leaving the kitchen, clean up games before moving onto the next one, and do one load of laundry a day instead of sacrificing your weekends to the washing machine. As your kids get older, incorporate them into chores. Kids can clear the table, collect dirty laundry, and clean up toys starting in preschool, with responsibility increasing as they get older. If you’re not sure which chores are age-appropriate, this guide from Focus on the Family can help.
Cleaning as you go is much easier when everything has a place. But if your home is chronically disorganized, it can feel like you’ll never get control of cleanliness. Block out a weekend for reorganizing so you can get a fresh start on a tidy home. By purging what you don’t need and organizing what you do, you not only make it easier to keep your house clean, you also eliminate the small daily annoyances that drive your stress levels up.
Know Your Support Team
No matter how on top of things you are, there will be moments you need help. Maybe traffic is horrendous on your way to pick up the kids, and you need someone else to step in, or one child is hospitalized, and someone needs to get the others fed and dressed. If you hit one of those moments and realize you have no one to call, you’re going to feel incredibly isolated and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s so important to know your support system before catastrophe strikes. Your support system might include family members, friends, other parents, and a reliable babysitter. They should be people you can call on when you need a hand as well as when you need someone to talk to.
Despite your best efforts, there will still be times during single parenthood where you just can’t catch a break. However, by creating structure at home, you can make those moments less frequent. And that’s not just good for your own stress levels—it’s good for your kids, too.