Men and women become single parents in a variety of
ways. The one thing that remains true, regardless of how you found
yourself parenting solo, is that you need a tribe. Some even call
it a village. These people may be relatives, friends you made in
college, or other parents you met during an after school activity.
The key to any successful single parent family is having a strong
support network, to not only help you manage the chaos of Saturday
morning soccer games, but also lend an ear when you've had a
stressful day at work. As a single mom, I've found my tribe
invaluable and want to share some tips to others solo parents who
need to start gathering their tribe.
So who should be in your tribe?
The other parent
I know there are instances where the other parent
is deceased or uninterested in being a parent so this can be
difficult. However, if you have an engaged co-parent it would be a
good idea to have a chat with him or her about your tribe. If
your co-parent may be called upon to babysit or chaperone your
child to activities, make sure they are kept in the
Family & friends
You have your biological family and the family you
pick up along the way, also known as friends. When I need someone
to do a pickup, drop off or just give me a few moments to breathe,
they are there. I'm lucky that my son has amazing
grandparents who are available when I need a night out or have to
stay late at work. Grandparents Day has taken on a new meaning in
my family! I also have great friends who enjoy spending time with
my son (that helps!) and have come through during crunch
I decided when my son was born that he would only
go to a home daycare. I wanted him to be in a home atmosphere since
he would be away from me for 10 hours a day. I also like that many
home daycares are licensed for 24 hour care. That way if I was
running late, I didn't have to worry about being charged a fee.
Obviously this is not a green light to abuse a home daycare.
Another important piece of this puzzle is finding good sitters. I
have to respect that my family and friends have lives and aren't
always going to be available. Luckily I've always been able to find
college students who have been great sitters for my son. There have
been times where I didn't have anywhere to go but just wanted
someone to play with my son while I took a nap or went for a
Now that my son is in school, I have learned the
great joy of connecting with the parents of his classmates. Not
only does my son get to build friendships with his classmates, but
I also get to gain new friends.
Single parent friends
Find them. They are out there. There is nothing
like having a friend who is also a single parent who understands
your "why me?!" moments. There are MeetUp groups for single
parents. The one in my area plans events - both kid friendly and
grown-ups only - a couple of times a month.
It's important to me that I let my tribe know how
much I value them. I don't use them as a rotating door of
childcare. Raising my son is my responsibility, not theirs.
However, as a single mom, I recognize the value of letting my
son know that while he is being raised by one parent, he is also
surrounded by people who love and care for him. My tribe is also a
way of taking care of myself. As a single parent it's easy to
put your child first and self-care last. Surrounding yourself
with good people only helps make you a better parent and
Who do you have in your tribe?
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