Kids are cute and heartwarming. They’re also little terrorists when they want to be, and have the capacity to drive the most level-headed parent to within an inch of their sanity. Even when they aren’t whining, arguing, or stuffing crayons into the dryer, the mere task of keeping them alive is a lifelong, time-sucking calling that never ends.
Unfortunately, divorce probably isn’t going to make it better.
With the same twenty-four hours of daylight you had before, you now face the exhausting reality of having to get everything done on your own.
However, before falling into a downward spiral of doom and gloom, don’t forget that many parents before you have made it work, and chances are—if you’re already worrying about this—then you will, too.
To help keep you sane while you figure it out, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the seven best time management tips for the solo parent.
Tip #1: Communicate with Your People
This is especially true for people like your boss, but it’s also good advice for pretty much everyone else, too.
While you don’t need to be posting a blow by blow of your divorce on social media (that would definitely not be healthy), people who love you can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on. Even married parents need a support system, which is why it’s even more important that you have one, too.
In a similar vein, your boss can’t be sympathetic or flexible with a situation they don’t know about. By notifying them of your circumstances in advance, they’ll be much more understanding later on, if you ever have to step out unexpectedly for a sick child.
Tip #2: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
If ever there was ever a time to not fly by the seat of your pants, the life of a post-divorce, solo parent is it.
Instead of waiting until 7:53 AM to put the soccer cleats in the bag, prep as much as you can the night before. If it helps, buy a giant wall calendar, and outline everyone’s schedule in colored markers and sticky notes. Always check the calendar before bed, and prepare whatever you’ll need for the next day, before hitting the sack.
We can’t guarantee you won’t forget anything ever again, but we can promise that your morning will run much smoother if you do.
Tip #3: Get Your Kids Involved
No matter how uninvolved your former spouse was, chances are they were at least doing something to help. In this new reality, however, it’s all up to you… or is it?
Remember those kids you have? The ones who are now looking up to you for answers and guidance? Do yourself—and them—a favor, by giving them some age-appropriate responsibility.
We get it. Most of the time it’s easier and faster to just do the thing yourself, but your kid needs to learn the valuable life skill of doing laundry at some point, right?
By giving them responsibility, not only are you helping them develop into good humans, but making dinner together also gives you the chance to spend more time together. (Though, we can’t promise the transition will be easy… kids hate chores, plain and simple. But keep at it, mom and dad. Someday they’ll thank you.)
Tip #4: Just Say No
You may have been the go-to parent before your divorce, but in your new normal, time is a premium that you can’t afford to spend on just anything. Which is why the quicker you learn to say no, the better off you’ll be.
Does this mean you’ll never be involved in PTA ever again? That you’ll never have time to coach your kid’s soccer game? Or run an errand for a neighbor in need? Absolutely not!
What it means, is that you may need to reevaluate your limitations. Check out that wall calendar of yours to see what you have going on, then prioritize things, accordingly. And if it doesn’t work?
Don’t be afraid to say no. Your stress level is worth it.
Tip #5: Keep it Civil with Your Ex
Just because you’re no longer married, doesn’t mean either of you have stopped being parents, and there’s a good chance your ex might be feeling overwhelmed with their new solo status, too.
If possible, try to keep things civil with your ex. This will make co-parenting your child a lot easier, and less awkward, too, if you ever need to ask your ex for a favor (like, say, taking extra visitation, so you can go on that business trip).
If you aren’t on good terms, consider restricting your communication to text messages. Texting generally takes less time than a phone call, and the limited contact will be less stressful for you, overall.
Tip # 6: Let Go of Perfection
We hate to break it to you, but despite what Instagram influencers might have to say about the matter, perfect parenting doesn’t actually exist. It didn’t while you were married, and it certainly doesn’t as a solo parent, either.
Hence, in the immortal words of Elsa of Arendelle: let it go. (Don’t look at us like that. We know you’ve seen that movie on repeat seventeen hundred times, now…)
If life—real life—was an Instagram feed, then it wouldn’t be made up of perfectly stylized cookie baking parties with your kids. (Ha!) Instead, it would be a reel of laundry stains, messy bathrooms, unwashed hair, dirty dishes, an un-mowed lawn, and cracked phone screens, all populated by red-faced toddlers and crying parents.
Perfection is a toxic thing for you to stress about, so do yourself a favor, mom and dad, and just… let it go.
Tip #7: Make Time for Yourself
While all of the things on this list are important, perhaps none of them are as critical to a parent’s mental health as this one right here: making time for yourself.
Parenting is hard, even under the best of circumstances, and yours have certainly been better. You’ve just endured a heartbreaking divorce, and are now facing down an uncertain future full of solo parenting, with no idea how to do it, and burdened under the almost-positive certainty that you’re screwing it all up.
And that’s exactly why you need to take care of yourself, too.
You may think you have time… that you can’t possibly get everything done and read a book, have a bubble bath, or take a quick trip to the green for a few holes. But the reality is, you can’t afford not to.
Alone time gives you the chance to relax, detox, and recharge for the next day’s challenges. Even if all you do is get up ten minutes earlier for a little yoga, or read a chapter before bed, alone time is vital to your health and well-being. Without it, the stress builds up, until it eventually has nowhere else to go but out, resulting in a spectacular burnout.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, consider this: studies have shown that kids mimic the behaviors of their parents—not only as they’re growing up—but as grown-ups, too. And if you don’t value yourself enough to carve out alone time right now, then why should they, later on?
Help your child build a better future for themselves. Teach them what it means to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult, by showing them how it’s done, right now.
Divorce Attorneys in Texas
No matter which side of the divorce aisle you’re on, as a parent, you are now facing a huge, post-split adjustment. And while solo parenting definitely has a learning curve, with a little time management, we’re confident you can rise to the challenge.
For more solo parent time management tips, or to discuss other family law topics, we want to hear from you. Call the Neal Ashmore team at (972) 436-8000, or schedule a consultation online, and let us help you make your transition to solo parenting go as smoothly as possible.