Dads Single Parent Blues
As a social worker, I worked with many single parents. Parenting styles generally came in two different ways, either as dedicated or non-dedicated (I rarely saw anything in between the two.) The dedicated single parent cared and loved for their child. The non-dedicated parent often didn’t even know they had a child. Parenting is hard no matter what but when life circumstances makes you a single parent it can become much more difficult.
Single Parent Life
I had the pleasure (or displeasure depending on how you look at it) over the last few weeks of being a single parent. I wasn’t a single parent by choice or by a grand design. I became a single parent out of necessity. My wife, Melissa, had surgery and she wasn’t able to help take care of our son for a short time. I already knew that single parenting is hard but when you add taking care of an adult on top of taking care of a child it can become almost impossible and at times unbearable.
I knew when the week began it would be difficult. I just never realized how difficult. As a father, I have come to depend on a certain amount of routine. I take care of my son, work on household chores, write and even have some free time. The routine works because there are two parents in our home. My wife will get home from work and she often takes over parenting details so I can write or do other things and she can bond with our son. We had worked out this routine long before our son was born.
As a single parent, I rarely had the luxury of “me” time. I wasn’t able to write without interruption or just sit sown and read without a little boy next to me. I wasn’t unhappy about the situation but it wasn’t always pleasant either. I can tell you with almost certainty that my son never noticed a difference but I worked very hard to make sure he didn’t.
Children are worth the effort!
1. Meal times urgency – Single parents don’t have the benefit of someone helping out during meals. My son was under foot in the kitchen asking questions, trying to help and just trying to get my attention. He was able to take a simple ten minute meal and stretch it into a 45 minute ordeal.
2. Bedtime – Bedtime is always challenging in my house. My son will often call us back to ask for water or various things. Being a single parent I was fortunate to answer all the questions alone (even if it meant going up and down the stairs half a dozen times)
3. Bath time – Normally, bath’s are fun. I don’t think they are near as much fun though when you are trying to do everything else in the house (including picking out clothes, drying, washing and anything else.)
4. Play time – Play time wasn’t about me. It was about keeping my son entertained and off of his mother that couldn’t hold him (she had stitches). I was constantly looking for things for my son to do so he wouldn’t jump on his mother.
One can’t understate the benefits of having a second parent or adult in the house. I only have one child and I learned how difficult it can become mastering all the various roles (I did have to take care of my wife too.) Being tired became my norm and my son didn’t understand why. All he understood was that he wanted his father to act like normal.
Maintaining Parenting Sanity
1. Time outs – Give yourself a time out. It’s okay to walk away for a minute and breath. As long as your child isn’t in danger walking away for a minute could do both of you a world of good.
2. Friends – Keep in contact with people you know. Maintaining adult relationships is important for your sanity. You might only talk a few minutes but those few minutes can make a huge difference in your day.
3. Bedtime – After your child goes to bed spend at least 15 minutes doing something for yourself e.g., reading, television, computers. The relaxation and enjoyment you can get from taking care of yourself can help you keep a sense of balance.
I respect single dads and moms and all they do for their children. I already understood how hard it is if you are a single parent but now I have a new appreciation for them.
National Single Parents Resource Center
Single Parent Alliance and Resource Center
Being a single dad for a little more than week was hard. I learned that “me” time was very hard to find. How do you manage to find time for yourself as a parent? What do you do to balance relationships with family and friends? Be sure to tell me in the comments!
, child parenting
, household chores
, parenting styles
, single parent
, single parenting
, social worker