With a sharp rise in divorce cases across all levels of society, single parenting seems to be gradually turning into the rule rather than the exception with the mother getting custody of the children in most cases. If you have been through this bitter phase, chances are that you are battling your inner demons and facing the daunting task of bringing up your precious moppets single-handed. With a little bit of help you can turn single parenting into a bed of roses with a tiny amount of thorns thrown in.
Picking the pieces: Letting go of yourself is the worst thing you can do at this stage. Although the temptation will be strong to shut yourself up in your room and wonder what went wrong with your marriage, don’t give in to self pity. Such destructive self-analysis will serve no purpose except make you more depressed and alienate you from your kids. Try and forget the past and look towards a great future with your lovely honeybunches.
Living it up: Becoming the sole guardian does not mean you have to be on motherly duty round the clock. While your priority definitely lies with the kids it is absolutely okay to spend the odd evening on your own. Adorable as it may be, your kid’s constant chatter can drive you nuts and have you craving for some ‘adult’ conversation. After ensuring that the kids are well taken care of, go out on dates with like-minded men or organise a night out with your friends. Send the kids to their grandparents’ for the weekend and have a slumber party with the gals. Rent some screwball comedies or some mushy romcoms and de-stress. Remember, a relaxed parent is a happy parent.
Learn basic D-I-Y: So, you may have relied on your partner to even throw out the garbage and now find yourself at a loose end. Most women have a tendency to depend on their better halves for advice on everything from saving money to changing the light bulb. Divorce makes them feel at a loss but this need not happen to you. Equip yourself with essential savoir faire. Enrol for a First Aid session; take a crash course in basic repairs; improve your culinary skills and brush up your school lessons so you can handle your kids’ doubts with confidence.
Monetary health: The most important step towards independent parenting is to get your finances in order. Make a list of your savings and investments. If it is too much for you to handle alone get a professional financial consultant to prepare an income expenditure chart. The expert can also help you plan how to fund your little ones’ education comfortably.
Knowledge savvy: Maternal instinct is your strongest guide in bringing up the kids but a little knowledge of current parenting styles from around the world will do no harm. In fact, it will only enhance your child management skills. Subscribe to parenting magazines, women’s journals and reliable parenting websites. Maintain a diary to jot down any valuable tips you come across. Balance your ‘modern’ parenting skills with a liberal dose of traditional wisdom from your elders.
No kidding: Perhaps the most challenging aspect of your journey into single parenting is handling your kids. As you adjust to your new lifestyle you need all the support and understanding you get. While the adults in your life will surely do their best to make you feel at ease, it may not be the same with kids. You may have to face their antagonism and even their rebellion as they begin to feel “Mom is not giving us enough love and attention.” The 5D technique may prove useful under the circumstances.
• Desist: Patience is the keyword here. No matter how much you feel like venting your frustration on them, desist. If you as a grown-up cannot handle your emotions how can you help the tiny tots to do so? Take a deep breath and wait for their temper tantrums to subside.
• Discuss: Once they are in ‘listening mode’ have a frank discussion with them. Tell them honestly why Mama and Papa broke up and explain why they are better off living with Mama. Kids show surprising maturity when treated as adults. Answer their questions as unflinchingly as possible (and be prepared for some awkward ones).
• Delegate: Transfer your multitasking abilities on to your children. You may feel like Superwoman but even superheroes need rest to recharge. Hand over the simple tasks to your kids. Delegate age appropriate chores like putting the toys away after they are done playing, keeping their things in the proper places, arranging their school books according to the time table, finishing their homework, completing pending projects etc. You will breathe a lot easier and will also make your children self dependant in the process.
• Discipline: Be generous with your praise and compliment them when they deserve it. But be a strict disciplinarian when required to show them Mommy is still the boss. Discipline should never mean physical punishment. It can range from taking away certain privileges to making them go to bed earlier than usual.