In a quote-on-quote perfect world (or a Julia Roberts movie), all children would have both parents living under the same roof and be a big, happy family. However, in the world we actually live in, solo parenting is commonplace. In fact, in the United States, 31 percent of the households are single parent households with children under the age of 18.
In 2012, I became a single parent to my then five-year-old son. For us, the first year was the most difficult, as I was finding my confidence as a solo parent and all our memories were tied up as a three-person family with my ex-husband. That was the mental and emotional challenge we both faced. Fast-forward five years and, as life continues, no matter how much we feel it doesn’t — I’ve become a thriving, confident, single parent and my son has become a confident, funny, outgoing tween.
Yes, he’s had to learn some of life’s lessons too early for my liking, but as the saying goes, “God, the universe, doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.” I am a living testament that parents without partners are just as good as parents as married ones. Life, whether you are a single parent or not, has its challenges. And I feel my life I is now simplified in many ways.
There are lessons I’ve learned and self-discoveries I've made that I would like to pass onto parents that are pending or new to solo parenthood:
1. It will be challenging, so don’t take on too many things.
Don’t expect too much of yourself and your children. You and your children will rise to future challenges in ways you never imagined.
2. Always remember, you and your children are on the same team.
3. The day-to-day duties are no different than they are for a married couple.
Coping with lack of sleep, finding child care, paying bills and so on, there’s no difference. You learn to prioritize quickly as there is only you to manage and execute matters, so your efficiency improves dramatically.
4. Things you thought were important, like a super clean home or keeping up with the Joneses, no longer matter or make sense.
You get back to the basics of life, which I found the most effective way to bond with my child. Reading books, playing games, cooking together, even cleaning together are ways that my son and I work together as a team. I teach him life skills while we are chatting, laughing and bonding.
5. Your confidence in decision making, and yourself, improves immensely.
6. There will be no clash of parenting styles as there will only be one style – YOURS!
This goes for no undermining or parenting sabotage when it comes to house rules or discipline. There will be clear guidelines for your children to understand and follow.
7. You get over arguments or disagreements much faster with your child and the negativity doesn’t hang around your home.
8. You will create a routine that works for you and your children.
9. You find yourself showering your children with an abundance of love.
You may be feeling guilty for a split household, but so what? Too much love is not a bad thing.
10. You will find your village, tribe, and support community or they will find you; 100% guaranteed.
11. Creating new memories is the best, and simplest, way to bond with your child and move your lives forward in a positive direction.
Do I wish I was still married? I can confidently say no I do not. Things happen for a reason. When faced with great challenges we rise to our best selves. That is how we learn in life. The culture we live in is in social transition as more people view marriage as, ‘not the end all be all in life’. A two-parent household is good, a solo-parent house hold is just as good. Who has the right to criticize either situation? He who cast the first stone? Well, that won’t be me.
Valerie Lynn is an international speaker and author on Traditional Feminine Healthcare Expert specializing in Postnatal Recovery and one of the leading New Motherhood Recovery Experts in the United States. Valerie, known as The Mommy Planner, through her book The Mommy Plan, has been a major force in introducing modernized, traditional after birth recovery practices and treatments. She’s is an advocate for a planned recovery after pregnancy and child birth beginning as soon as possible after childbirth. Based on her book she has created a 6-week daily recovery and recuperation plan encompassing nutrition, body, personal care and gentle exercise starting from Day 1 – ‘birth day’. She is completing a cookbook, Healing Meals: Simple Recipes for New Moms with over 100 recipes (breakfast, broth, lunch, hot-beverages, dinner, snacks, desserts) based on healing ingredients, adapted for a Western diet and lifestyle, for new mothers. www.themommyplan.com