Newly divorced or separated couples with children may experience significant learning curves as first-time single parents. There are many things parents must re-learn without help from their co-parents, such as grocery shopping and meal times. Luckily, there are ways to make this process easier on you and your child after a split. For your first year as a single parent, follow these tips to make this major life change run smoothly.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
If you’re used to your spouse chipping in on major parenting decisions and helping with childcare, this transition will be difficult. Know that you will make mistakes along the way – but that’s okay. Your child doesn’t need you to be perfect to be a good parent. Don’t be too hard on yourself during this tumultuous time. Trust your instincts and trust that you can make the right choices for your child without help from your ex-spouse. Set yourself up for success by being flexible and forgiving with the new you – the you who is now a single parent.
Don’t Badmouth Your Ex
Your ex-spouse might drive you crazy in the first year after a split. He or she might try to control your parenting style during your custody or visitation times, ask questions about your new love life, or otherwise make you feel like a bad parent or person. Do not badmouth your ex in front of your child. Know that, over time, you and your ex will figure your new arrangement out and most likely get on friendlier terms. Try your hardest to develop a relationship with your ex that benefits your child.
Be Okay with Your Ex’s Parenting Style
Now that you and your ex are no longer co-parents, you may not agree on everything when it comes to raising your child. It might be difficult, but you must come to terms with the fact that your ex might have different rules at his/her house. Your child might even complain that your rules are stricter than your ex’s rules. Most children can eventually handle different rules at different households. Accept that you can no longer control how your ex handles childcare when he/she has your child (unless, of course, if it puts your child in danger).
Take Time for Yourself
You must take care of yourself first before you can take care of others. It might be your first instinct to put everything in your life on hold to care for your child, but this can ultimately lead to a point of breakdown. The aftermath of a divorce or separation can be stressful and make you feel like you’re spread too thin. Take a time to focus on your own wellbeing, such as reading a book or practicing yoga. Give your brain a break from single parenting occasionally, and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go when it’s your turn with your child.
Ask for Help
It doesn’t make you a bad parent to ask for help, especially in the beginning. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your first year, ask friends and family members to help you with the kids. Developing a strong support group during this time in life can make you feel more confident and stress-free despite being a newly single parent. Look for a local group of other single moms or dads in your area who can relate to what you’re going through. A support system can make your life much easier in the first year and help your child experience greater stability.