How to survive and thrive as a new single parent.
The time after a divorce can be challenging in the extreme. It can be an emotional roller coaster, and often a period of transition will be necessary for you to learn how to readjust to life as a newly single parent. This immediate aftermath will see you move from being a married or cohabiting person to being single, and from co-parenting your children to becoming a single parent. Neither of these are easy tasks.
If you are going to move forward with your life, you will need to start focusing on yourself. So, seize the day, and try to use the experience as an opportunity to rediscover who you are and plan your new life post-divorce. Here are some suggestions on how you can start rebuilding your life as a newly single parent:
Take time to grieve your failed marriage or relationship
The period after separation or divorce can be very similar to grieving. Give yourself time to process your divorce and draw on the support of friends, a therapist or a life coach to help you work through this highly stressful period in your life. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t expect to be able to move on straight away. Divorce is a huge emotional blow to your financial and emotional wellbeing, as well as your self-esteem. For some it will represent the end of that dream of a perfect family and might leave you feeling like a failure. For others it will be a relief to finally escape a dysfunctional marriage. Others again may have mixed emotions and are wondering if leaving their partner and embarking on a new life as a single parent was the right step. Whichever way you feel, you will need time to process the loss of your relationship before you can move on.
As parents we are often so focused on the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children that we forget about our own needs, especially our mental health. Yet the better you manage emotionally, the easier your children will navigate the new family structure and all the changes that may come with that. Just imagine this time in your life as a chapter: You need to close one chapter before you can start the next one.
Regain your confidence with positive thoughts
Over time, you may have forgotten some of the qualities you have, not as part of a couple, but as a person in your own right. To boost your self-esteem and boost your confidence after divorce, you could write a list of your greatest qualities that others value about you, and then read this list out loud every day. Examples might include your kindness to others, your bubbly nature, your wit, your generosity or your beautiful smile. This will tip the scale of negative thoughts you will currently have. Doing this will help you see the positive traits and qualities within yourself that you might have forgotten during your unhappy marriage and possibly acrimonious split-up.
Re-organise your finances and start planning for the future
If you previously had joint finances, and your other half was the one looking after the family fortunes, you might find it hard to take all financial decisions on your own now. However, ignorance in this area can be dangerous and work against you as does making rash, uninformed decisions.
So, take your time to find out where you stand financially if you haven’t already done so. If you feel overwhelmed with this aspect of single parenthood, ask a trusted friend to give you a helping hand. Once you are on top of your finances and know exactly what you can and cannot afford, you will be prepared and able to make informed decisions about future spending.
Don’t forget, no matter how dire things may look as you start life as a newly single parent, the future is bright. Your finances will recover over time, and there are always ways to save money as a single parent. So, start looking forward by setting yourself a budget and goals that you can work towards to reward yourself and your kids. This could be a monthly treat or a bigger project, such as a new car or your first holiday as a single parent family.
Expand your social circle and develop a support network
Many newly single parents find that their social circle widens after their divorce. If you have joint parental responsibility, then use the time without the children to rekindle old friendships and enjoy your new freedom. You could also look for ways to meet other single parents – single parent friendships are often for life as you find much in common during this period of your life. If your children don’t see their other parent much, ask relatives and friends for the occasional help with childcare to allow you to socialise and regain a degree of independence.
If there isn’t anyone in your life who is able to help you out, you could save for a nanny service once a month, or enlist the help of a mature neighbour’s daughter. If you don’t feel much like socialising, you could take up an old hobby again, maybe something where you don’t need a babysitter. Either way, sociable hobbies are also a great way to meet new people and enhance your social circle. Divorce isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. But taking positive steps such as these will get through this chapter of your life.
Start meeting or dating other single parents
Nearly every second marriage in the UK ends in divorce. With the majority of divorced men and women in their 40s, this leaves a lot of single parents with dependent children. According to single parent statistics, there were 2.9 million one parent families in the UK in 2019. That is a lot of single mums and single dads who will have gone through a similar experience as you and who are ready to move on with their life.
Newly single parents often feel that they don’t know when to start meeting and dating other people again. It is normal to feel that way, so take your time and only start dating when you are ready. An easy way to start meeting and dating for friendship or more is to join a free online dating site and just start chatting. Even if you don’t meet your next long-term partner there, you will meet lots of interesting singles and single parents at the same stage of life or further down the line, who can lend an ear and offer advice or just make you smile as you navigate single parent dating.
Being a single parent may be more stressful than parenting as a couple, but it also comes with many benefits. In fact, more and more single parents today choose to remain single whilst their children are young. They love focusing on their children and treasure the special bond of their single parent family. No more arguments over household chores, childcare or financial matters. You don’t have to justify your actions or live by someone else’s rules. So, look at the bright side of becoming a single parent, close that chapter and just enjoy the benefits of being a newly single parent.