There’s no denying that having a new baby is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of a lifetime. But, it’s also a lot of work. Between midnight feedings, dirty diapers, and trying to navigate the waters of being a new parent, you have to wear a lot of hats right away after bringing your little one home.
If you’re a single parent, those responsibilities double.
It’s easy for single parents to get burnt out, feel overwhelmed, or even struggle with loneliness and depression after having a baby. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make the most of your situation while providing the best care for yourself and your little one. Let’s look at ten tips you can put into practice right away.
It’s not uncommon for parents to deal with stress. Maybe you work full-time and you’re worried about who will take care of your little one. Maybe you’re exhausted and feel like you don’t have any support. Maybe you’re just overwhelmed by all of the emotions you’re feeling after bringing your baby home.
Taking care of your mental health is crucial. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you can’t care for your baby the way you want if your mental well-being is suffering. Be aware of some of the common signs of the “baby blues”, including:
If you’re really feeling depressed or helpless, it’s important to be aware of Postpartum Depression (PPD). While it’s a condition commonly associated with new mothers, it can happen to dads too! Prioritize your mental well-being by taking breaks throughout the day, getting as much sleep as possible, exercising, journaling, and practicing mindfulness. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional if you can’t seem to manage your intrusive thoughts.
If you’re a new mother, your body has just been through a lot. Taking care of your physical health is essential. Regular exercise will boost your energy and improve your mood, and it’s something you can do with your baby. Consider going on daily walks with your little one in the stroller, or doing a workout video at home while your newborn is napping. You don’t need a gym membership or an hour-long workout to experience the benefits of physical activity.
Financial struggles can be a major source of worry for single parents. In addition to fixed expenses like rent or a mortgage, food, and utilities, you have the added expenses of things like diapers, formula, and other necessities for your baby.
One of the best ways to combat your financial worries is to create a budget and learn how to manage your money.
Building a budget is easier than you might think. Create a list of your expenses, as well as sources of income. Chances are, there are some flexible and discretionary expenses you can cut back on, including:
By cutting back just a bit, you can enjoy greater financial security and focus more on having enough to cover your fixed expenses.
It’s not easy to admit you need help. As a parent, you want to be able to “do it all” and be Super Mom or Super Dad.
But, as the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Accepting help from family members and friends doesn’t make you “weak” or a bad parent. If someone wants to help with meals, run errands for you, or even watch the baby while you get some rest, it will end up getting rid of a lot of stress and making you more present with your child each day.
In addition to family and friends, don’t hesitate to find your tribe! You’re not the only single parent out there, and it’s important to have connections with other individuals who are going through similar situations.
If you feel like you can’t connect with any other single parents in your immediate community, consider searching online. There are plenty of groups and forums available that will allow you to talk with people across the globe who are dealing with the same experiences. You can get advice, give advice, and take comfort in knowing that people truly understand what you’re dealing with.
Life can feel a little chaotic with a new baby around. You might feel like your days are blending into each other. Unfortunately, that can wreak havoc on your mental well-being and leave you feeling exhausted.
Do your best to establish a daily routine for yourself and your child. Try to wake up at the same time each day (even if your baby woke you up three times last night!), have breakfast, exercise, journal, etc.
Establishing a routine will bring comfort to both you and your baby. As they get older, they’ll feel more secure because of the routines you put in place now.
No single parent wants to think about a potential emergency. But, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you have a backup plan for emergency situations and make a list of people you can call to help, including emergency babysitting services that can take care of your little one while you handle whatever else is going on.
You might not be disciplining your baby just yet, but it’s never too early to show consistency and establish rules from an early age. If you share custody of your little one, you should also be consistent with your co-parent. It’s important that your child has similar rules to follow no matter where they are. If they learn that they can “bend” the rules with one parent, they’ll take advantage of the situation, and it can create behavioral issues.
Even from a young age, your child can pick up on your energy. It’s normal to feel sad, overwhelmed, and lonely at times. But, do your best to stay positive. Focus on the things in your life you’re grateful for, like:
Maintaining a positive attitude will not only help with your mental health, but it will foster a calmer, more peaceful environment within your home.
As a single parent, having a job is important. But, it can be difficult to leave your little one, and the last thing you want is to leave them with someone you don’t know. You might need to get a little creative with your childcare choices, especially if friends and family members are unavailable. Look into local daycares, or ask other single parents you know to help out, offering your own help in return when they need it.
Raising a child on your own is no easy task, but it’s not impossible. Try some of these tips to make your life with your little one less stressful, and you’ll both reap the benefits.