Whether you’re recently separated or have been divorced for years, being a single father can bring many challenges—ranging from negotiating child custody and paying alimony to daily budgeting and handling remarriage. Try these tips to help minimize the stress that comes with being a single parent.
1) It’s ok to ask for help.
In order to be and do your best as a single dad, you need a solid, reliable support system in place, and that means being able to ask others to lend a hand. Being a single dad can bring added stress when you no longer have a partner to help with tasks such as taking the kids to school, helping with homework, or watching the kids. It’s important to have friends, relatives, and neighbors who understand your situation and who are available to help when you need it most. Consider joining a support group for single fathers. There, you’ll find a group of men who can relate to your situation and share their firsthand experience.
2) Establish (and stick to) rules and a routine.
Children need boundaries, stability, and consistent follow-through, which is why it’s important for both you and your ex-wife to establish rules that are to be regularly enforced at both of your homes. Examples include rules for bedtimes, TV and Internet usage, curfews, homework, chores, meals/nutrition, and allowance. Don’t forget, as your kids grow older, rules will need to be adjusted—such as making bedtime later—and created—such as adding a curfew. And when you and your former partner abide by the same set of rules, your children are less likely to play your ex against you and lessens the chances of you hearing, “…but mom lets me do it.”
3) Stay on track with a budget.
A separation or divorce can have a great affect on your finances. To help stay on track and avoid any issues, create a budget to see how and where you’re spending money. Look for ways to reduce your debt and/or for areas you can cut costs. For example, cancel or downgrade services such as cable, or renegotiate your mortgage terms. See a certified financial planner, who can help you with long-term investments, retirement planning, and starting a college education fund for your children. In addition to having financial peace of mind, you’ll also be setting a good example for your kids when it comes to money management.
4) Focus on the positive.
Being a single dad is often stressful, demanding, and chaotic. That’s why it’s important to focus on the positive and take care of yourself by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Both you and your children can be a great a source of positivity and love for one another. Don’t forget to spend time with them as often as possible and make each moment count.