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Single Parenting Can be a Challenge

Updated on August 31, 2012


How much"free" time do you have being a single parent?

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Single parenting is hard and it can feel overwhelming at times.

I'm a single parent...I'm a single parent...I'm a single parent

Not all of us will join the team of single parenting, but for those of you who have, welcome. It took me quite some time to get used to hearing that and referring to myself that way. I got divorced a few years back and I was alone for the first time in 12 years, I thought how am I going to do this? I had 4 year old twins at the time, how was I going to be everything to them? I remember that feeling hit me like a brick one night when they woke up in the middle of the night with the flu. Ok, I said to myself, this is it, you can do this because you ALWAYS do this. Now get up and fix it! It was that day, I realized that the majority of their young lives will be spent with me and they depended on me take care of them. And so, I became fly-swatter, spider remover, hairdresser, chef, baseball coach, dance mom, cleaner upper of UBER messes and mommy doctor. For my daughter, she put her trust in me and never looked back. For my son, it was not so simple. Because he has Autism Spectrum Disorder specifically PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Delay - Not Otherwise Specified) and he has anxiety. And so I had to organize! I had to formulate a plan for our family to navigate this new journey. Daddy no longer lived with us and now he has his own home. How do you explain this to children, especially one who CRAVES routine.........with patience and help. And so I hope this helps any of you struggling with a similar situation!

I cannot tell anyone what to do, but I can share what worked for us.

1. Carve Out Special Time with Each Child: Ok, I realize those of you reading this are saying, "sure thing, I wish I had a spare moment." I understand, I have twins and they do not understand ALONE! However, I knew what each child loved and what was important to them so I tapped into that and carved out special tea times for my daughter, we watched movies, and we played with her animals. For her, it was special mommy time. She is my "old soul" and she knew things changed but it she was ok. We worked on things together and we talked A LOT. She's a very intuitive child so I used that when we played. No phones, no distractions, just time for the two of us where she got my undivided attention. For those of you with twins, you get it and for those of you with autistic children you get it! Which brings me to my son (my new soul) and my WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) kid. He, who is very differently from his sister, does not adapt well to change. He thrives on consistency and routine. My tactic was different with him. I became vigilant and extremely organized. Our play reflected a scheduled event and we knew in advance what we were doing, e.g., a puzzle, cars, a movie. Like his sister, he got my undivided attention as well, and with less anxiety for him. And then I began to rely more and more on my family for support. Thankfully, my family embraced our challenges and rose to the occasion and still do. They became surrogates and stand-ins. They allowed me to spend single time with each child (which is nearly impossible with twins).

2. PLAN PLAN PLAN: I cannot say it enough, but planning and organizing saves a lot of heartache for all. For my son, transitions were almost impossible to handle without a major meltdown following. In order to circumvent these, we set up weekly calendars with Velcro pictures. We had pictures for, mommy at home, mommy at work, daddy's house, daddy alone. And at the beginning of every week we put the appropriate signs on the appropriate days. This helped him (and her) be in control of their schedule. It alleviated a lot of anxiety of the unknown. We kept it on the refrigerator at eye level and every day, they would go over and know exactly what was going to happen that week. It stimulated conversation and gave them a bit of independence in their lives by allowing them some control. it was our goal to make the situation as bearable for the kids as we could and we made each transition as easy as possible. For weeks, their father would visit in the home only. Once they got used to that, we brought them to his new place for the day. It was quite some time before they spent the night but when they did, they were ready.

3. Allow Yourself Time to Grieve: I think most moms and dads that are divorced or single forget to live. We dive into our work, our children, our homes and by the time the day is over, we are so exhausted we go to bed so that we can do it again the next day. Everyone needs time for themselves. It took me two years to look at myself from the inside out and realize that if I did not start taking care of me, I would be of no use to my children. It's ok to feel sad for what you lost whether it was your decision to end the relationship or not. Having time to recognize all of the emotions that are played out allows us to feel, and then move past, our old lives and move into our new future.

4. Do What Makes You Happy: I had to find something for me so I would not suffocate. I started reading again. I also started planning more daily events; I was planning excursions and park trips and we started to emerge from our nest. We began living again and we did it together.

We still have a LONG way to go and I would like to say that I give my children equal time but I would be lying. My son's needs simply demand more thought and attention. Because, on top of all my mommy jobs, as well as my paid-for job, I have to be an advocate, and fighter for his rights too. And all of it is tiring, but I still try.

My point is that raising children is hard work and it’s doubly hard when you realize – It’s all you. No matter how you got to be where you are, you are not alone and there are some great resources available to help you navigate your new life.

There are some links below that you may find useful.

Text Copyright © 2012 Lisa Davis


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    • mom4autism profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Thanks so much @gmaoli. I appreciate the comments and the share. I completely agree about "me" time as well. I used to feel so selfish until I realized that I was losing my patience over and over again. Now, I appreciate my time and am thankful for the help I receive as well. Being a single parent is hard, but it's the only important thing I can do for them so, onward and upward I say. I think having a special needs child also give me a different perspective on free time and how vital it is to my LITERAL existence. I may only get an hour here or there, but I spend it wisely! Thank you again!

    • gmaoli profile image

      Gianandrea Maoli 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      This is very good practical advice. I think the final part regarding me time is especially important. I've read some literature about the trials of single parenting and while your kids must be a priority you must have some time for yourself. If you cut yourself off from anything that makes you personally happy, you will become depressed and start to see your duties towards your children as a major burden on your life. That will just make you depressed and your kids will see that. You have to be happy for them during this important and developmental time in their lives. I'm sharing this on my pages! Well written!

    • mom4autism profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Thank you Chef-de-jour. I love your perspective in this area and I appreciate your honest evaluation! I am gald I come across as organized - I AM SOOOOO NOOOOTTTTT - LOL ok, I have to be and I definitely learned that from my son. Now, if I could only apply these skills to cleaning my house, I would be great! Thank you for reading, I truly appreciate it.

    • mom4autism profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Suzie HQ - thank you for your kind words. I know that saying that they are my life is cliché but it is true. For me, just knowing that I am who they depend on every day, makes me work that much harder for them!!!

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      I vote up and interesting because of the contrast with my own experiences - even though I've worked many years with autistic young people and know many parents of ASD children - being single and managing two children ,one with special characteristics, is a great challenge. But you sound so organised! I guess you have learnt through necessity - the best teacher.

      I hope you continue to write and share your positive energy.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Congratulations mom4autism on a straight from the heart account of single parenting. I have numerous friends who are in this position and it is a huge transition for the family. I applaud you on your steps to make the changes easier on the children. Spending time with each twin is a great idea and important. Voting and sharing, look forward to reading more from you!

    • mom4autism profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Thank you Alana!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I had no idea you were a single parent in addition to all the other challenges you are facing. Sounds like you have it all under control as much as it can be. I am enjoying reading your blogs!

    • mom4autism profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      I completely agree :)

    • lovelife08 profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      I am a single parent, and I struggle every single day, but I wouldn't miss it for the world! Voted up.


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