If you are a single parent, a large, active social network is the best support you can have. It needn't be difficult to build up this network. Start here.
Are you a single mother? Or a single father? If you are a single parent, family and friends can provide vital support. Do you and your partner share a lot of the responsibilities? If so, there are probably still situations where it would be useful to have support from others.
Single parents need a social network
As a single parent, it can be helpful and reassuring to build up a network of people who you can turn to for assistance and support. People who can help you deal with the everyday challenges of being a parent, such as illness or bringing the kids to or from nursery. The social aspect of parenthood is also important – having someone to share joys and thoughts with and ask for advice when in doubt.
Advice for single parents
• Ask for help from family, friends and neighbours that you trust.
• There are also websites where you can chat to other parents in the same situation.
• Contact a paediatric centre to find out if there is a parent group you can contact.
• Now that you've finally got some time to yourself, you might find you have enough energy to socialise with other adults.
• Some cinemas show films during the daytime that are suitable for children. This is a good place for meeting other parents.
• Playgrounds and sandpits are other good places for socialising with single parents.
Meeting parents with children the same age as yours can feel like coming home at last. Even if you know nothing about each other and come from completely different backgrounds, you can really help and support each other. You probably have a lot in common.
Parent groups provide an opportunity to talk, celebrate, laugh and share successes and setbacks over a cup of coffee. You will meet parents who understand how much you miss going to the toilet in peace and quiet, sleeping late just once in a while or having your sweater stay clean for more than an hour.
Tips from single Libero parents
We asked: What are the benefits of being a single parent? The parents we consulted agreed about the following things:
• You don't have arguments and disagreements.
• When you're not taking care of your kid or kids, you have time to yourself. You can lead a single life, eat what and when you want, stay up all night and do whatever you feel like. Sleeping late might well be at the top of the list to start with!
If you are feeling tired, Libero parents offer the following advice:
• Take some time off. Lie down and close your eyes for ten minutes if you can. Demand less of yourself. Only do what's necessary.
• Running a household as a single parent isn't necessarily about keeping everything neat and tidy. It's more important to have time for your kids so that everybody is happy.
• Try to have fixed times for different things. For example, put your kids to bed at 8 pm even if they're not very tired. You need some time to yourself. If you're rested and energetic, the whole family will be happier.
• Try not to go to bed too late. It's important to get enough sleep.
• Remember you don't need to do everything yourself. Ask family and friends for help.
Subsidies for single parents
Can't you afford to buy everything you need or to take your kid(s) on holiday? There are subsidies for single parents that you may be able to apply for.
Some are new while others have existed for longer. For most of them, you need to meet specific requirements in order to qualify. Search online or at the library. There might be a subsidy applicable to people in your specific situation.