Lessons learnt from ten years as a single parent:

  1. I need grace, guidance, patience, energy and wisdom from my Father God; on my own, I cannot be an effective parent.
  2. I am only one person. I have tried to be two parents to my children, but I just can’t do it!
  3. Not to compare myself (and what I can achieve in a day) to my friends in two parent families. They have more hands and usually more child-free time to achieve things than I do!
  4. Having one consistent, happy parent can be better than two parents, where one undermines the other and there is uneasiness in the home.
  5. My children don’t need ‘stuff’ to make up for being part of a single parent family (even though other people often think they do). They actually need love, time and firm, consistent boundaries.
  6. To focus on what is realistic for our circumstances. In particular, meeting up with friends for a shorter time, or leaving group social situations before the meltdowns. There is only one of me to deal with the fall-out from the sensory and social overwhelm that my children feel when around other people, so it is alright to take steps to lessen the impact of that on all of us.
  7. To be more intentional in what I teach and model to my children. All the more so with them having additional needs, they need very specific learning opportunities for skills that their peers would naturally pick up.
  8. Routine is my friend, not just because my children have additional needs. I was very spontaneous before having children and lived life from one moment to another.
  9. Discernment in who I let close to me and the children. Some people will target single parents in order to meet their own needs or to exploit the ‘weakness’ they think will be there. Yet others are the most loving, loyal and wonderful people that you could wish for.
  10. Start each day with a clean slate. Don’t leave tasks like washing up, washing that needs folding or preparation for the next day, until the morning. Do yourself a favour and get ahead, as tomorrow will have enough demands and chaos of its own!
  11. Make an emergency and household information folder. When I was really unwell a few years ago, my mum had to come and look after us all for a while. In order to pick up the normal routines for the children, she needed key information… information that was only in my head! Once I recovered, I put a folder together pretty quickly.
  12. I need help from others to raise my children well. I cannot provide everything that my children need, so I need to partner with carefully chosen friends and family to help them develop into well-rounded adults.
  13. My children do come first, but at some point I need to pay attention to my own needs. I am a better parent if some of my needs are met; particularly if I have had some time on my own to do something that I enjoy.
  14. I have had to learn new skills in order to run a household by myself, deal with finances and insurances, whilst working and raising two children. You are never too old to learn something new!

I have no idea what the future holds, but I know it won’t be boring!

Published by N Hadley

Single parent to children with additional/special needs. Interested in eco friendly and frugal living, and recently exploring minimalism as a way to express my Christian faith.

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