As a parent, balancing work life with home life is one of the biggest challenges you can undertake. For single parents, the endeavor can seem downright impossible some days. March 21 is Single Parent Day, and in honor of this, we want to celebrate the amazing parents who are raising children on their own — doing their best to rock parenthood and their work and personal lives.
First recognized in 1984, Single Parent Day was established to honor the sacrifices and hard work of single parents. The U.S. has the world’s highest rate of single-parent households in the world, at 23%, which accounts for 11 million families. By far, the most common arrangement is children living with a single mother.
How can single parents ensure they are focusing on their children while tending to their own personal needs and shining at work? The truth is, it’s hard. Acknowledging that reality and giving yourself grace is the first step. What follows is devising ways to make your busy life simpler and more balanced. Here are our top tips to make that happen.
Find community and build a support system
Having people who truly understand the challenges you face is invaluable. While no two single parenting experiences will be the same, they share the same basic issues at heart. For many single parents, there is never enough time and there are never enough resources. With a community that understands your struggles, you will have a place to vent your frustrations, get advice, and call on for help when you need it.
If you don’t know where to begin, try online communities such as ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere), a social platform dedicated to empowering a broad demographic of single women. If you have employee resource groups (ERGs) at work, ask about a single parents’ group — and if there isn’t one, consider starting something new
Advocate for flexibility at work
Many people feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. This can feel especially true for single parents. Sometimes, however, the key is how you allocate the hours you have. Traditional nine to five in-office jobs can prove challenging for parents. You may be forced to make arrangements for drop-offs, pick-ups and after-school care. You may miss practices and special performances.
Having flexibility at work can make a world of difference for parents, whether these flexible circumstances mean the freedom to make your own hours, leave and make up time as needed or work from home. Seeing your children more and being there for important moments is essential for all parents, but for single parents, this flexibility can be a lifeline.
Make time for yourself
Being a single parent can sometimes mean feeling like you’re never doing enough for your children. If you’re not careful, this can quickly morph into giving more than what you have to give and being left with nothing for yourself. This isn’t healthy for anyone — your children or yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. To better care for your children, you must care for yourself first.
On airplanes, when oxygen masks appear during an emergency, people are instructed to put on their own masks before helping others. This is the same concept. There are days when life will feel overwhelming. In these times, do whatever you need to stay grounded. Here are some of our favorite tips for managing burnout, and setting boundaries between work and home. No matter how busy we are, we all need to unwind in our own ways.
Make work work for you
If life as a single parent feels truly unmanageable, consider where you can make adjustments. Becoming a parent alters your perspective, and many parents find that pursuing a career change is just the life adjustment they need. Maybe you work in an inflexible industry. Perhaps your priorities shifted after becoming a parent. Regardless of the reasons why, pivoting your career could be the start of a fresh, less stressful endeavor.
Your career pivot may require further education. Consider a program like The Mom Project’s RISE to sharpen your skills and earn a certification quickly so you can pursue your next path. RISE is a scholarship program committed to accelerating equity for moms and women of color by providing access to upskill tech certifications. Most participants complete the program in six months or less, and at no cost.
No matter how single parents create balance in their lives, we are in awe of the way they show up each and every day. If you have a single parent in your life, this is your reminder to cheer them on and offer support where you can. If you are a single parent, understand that the hard work you’re doing is valued and appreciated.