Single Parenting in Times of Transition

Transitions are Exciting…and Can Feel Overwhelming

Transitions can be exciting because we’re welcoming something new into our lives: a job change, kids going off to college, moving to a new city, a new relationship, or even a new season are common examples. Anticipation of the good things that will happen can feel energizing and fun. 

At the same time, what’s often ignored is the challenges involved with change: loss of what was familiar, uncertainty, new logistics, and increased decision-making. This can create sadness, fear, confusion, and overwhelm.  We need time to process these emotions as we adjust to change.  

Transitions Can be More Disruptive for Single Parents

As a single parent, changes involving the kids can stir up wide emotional swings: your kid goes off to college and you’re beyond thrilled to have pulled it off as a full-time single mom. At the same time, you see married couples planning their empty-nest lives together and you’re feeling lonely.  

Your child makes it onto the club volleyball team and you’re thrilled your job covers your share of the expense yet you’re anxious about how you’re going to drive her to practices and out of state games when you have 2 other younger kids in the house. 

And what about when one of your kids is struggling at school and you are glad you and his teacher are on the same page yet you feel guilty about the post-divorce legal issues that take up your time and make you stressed when you’re with him?

Emotions Around Transitions are Universal

Clearly many of these emotions are universal to parenting and many marriages actually have added stresses such as disagreements on parenting styles, disengagement from the kids, or an abusive partner. 

However, single parents don’t have the buffer people often have in healthy married parenting relationships. All of the logistics and decisions need to be handled by one parent, only one parent is providing the time with the children, legal issues and logistics can be taxing for everyone, and there’s no built-in support system for the parents’ needs.

Managing Transitions

So, as a single parent, how do you manage times of transition?

  1. Be gentle with yourself: recognize that change takes time. Avoid overscheduling or getting impatient. If you need to say no for a while to optional ongoing or new commitments, that’s OK: you can pick them back up when things are more settled.
  2. Maintain routines that ground you such as bedtimes, mealtimes, exercise, a set work schedule, or a weekly walk with a supportive friend.
  3. Check in with your kids to see what matters to them. Sometimes we spend time making dinner or planning activities we think our kids want, but really, they don’t care if they have burritos yet again for dinner if that means more time with you, or they’re happy hanging out with their friends while you rest.   
  4. Ask for help and offer to help others: sharing can infuse lightness into emotions, ease the burden of completing tasks, and make you feel less alone in your experience.  
  5. Remind yourself that emotions are universal to all parents: everything is happening as it’s meant to happen, and you and your kids will be just fine.  
  6. Practice gratitude for the journey without judgement: it’s all part of the life we are blessed to be living.  

You Get to Make the Transition What You Want It to Be

Whether you’re a single parent, married parent, or a parent in the way you show up with your pets or your creative pursuits, we all have our individual experiences and I’d love to hear about yours during times of transition: what’s beautiful, what’s challenging, how are the kids, and what do you want to welcome into your parenting sphere?

If you’d like to dive deeper into any of this, I invite you to sign up for a complimentary discovery session with me to explore how coaching can enrich your experience with a transition – or anything else going on in your life – and make it the path you want it to be. 

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