So you're parenting alone? Maybe you chose this life; perhaps it chose you. Whether you are truly single or your spouse works more days away than at home, life can be challenging parenting solo. However, looking into your little ones' eyes makes you realize the challenging times are worth it all.
As a single parent to an almost 18-month-old, I've learned the easy and hard way of parenting alone. So, here are some helpful tips that might make your life a little easier. And if you're happily with a partner with children, that's great, and don't stop reading because some of these tips will probably come in handy at times in your busy life.
HAVE A BACKUP PERSON
Sicknesses, family emergencies, personal doctor's appointments, work requirements … there will be times and situations where you will NEED to have someone else you can reach out to for an extra hand. If you have a close friend or family nearby, ask them if it's ok if they are a designated backup person for you and your child. If they agree, make sure to put their information as a secondary pick-up person or emergency contact whenever applicable.
If you're like me and your family lives states away, find a babysitter or nanny that you can trust. Post to a local babysitter/nanny Facebook group or download babysitting apps like Sittercity and Bambino. Be honest and explain your situation and your needs.
You can never be too prepared, right? If you have a new baby or your little one is wetting the bed, double layer the sheets at night (waterproof sheet, regular sheet, waterproof sheet, regular sheet); that way, if you have to do a middle of the night switch, you save time, effort, and you both can go to sleep sooner.
Only have one vehicle? Make sure you still have an additional car seat base “just in case” for your backup person or if your vehicle is in the shop.
Have a daily schedule and routine and try to stick to it as often as you can. A schedule will help you have some sort of “control” over day-to-day things and allow you to accurately plan ahead. Schedules and routines are also great for little ones and help encourage sleep when done right.
Stock your house with health essentials. The last thing you want is to shop for sickness supplies when you or your little one is sick. Always stock house for "sickness" with supplies for both baby and you. Make sure you always have Tylenol, Motrin, ginger ale, crackers, Pedialyte, Gatorade, bandaids, etc., on hand. If your little one is dealing with fevers or pain, pre-measure Tylenol in a syringe at night and have it ready in their room if they wake up needing it.
Depending on your income, you might qualify for different financial and government programs to help with daycare, rent, formula, and other costs. It doesn't hurt to ask, and you might discover something that will benefit you and your little one.
Children grow fast, and they won't remember if you purchased their clothes brand-new, so look at second-hand stores or take hand-me-downs from family or friends. You can snag some great lightly-used clothes for less than half the price at second-hand stores, and you can also sell back clothes to make money. If you don't have a second-hand store near you, check Facebook Marketplace or local garage sale/mom Facebook pages for clothing and other items.
It takes a village. You may often feel alone (mainly because you probably are except for your little one), so do some outreach and try to connect with others. I was feeling lost and alone, so I sucked up my pride and posted in a Facebook group asking if there were other single parents I could text or talk to … a year later and I have a best friend I call almost every day who "gets it" and can listen to me vent about different situations.
Also, make sure to connect with yourself! Do therapy, find supportive zoom meetings, read devotionals or encouraging books at night. You will be the best parent for your child if you love and support YOU.
We only have so much time in a day and so many hands, so look into different options to make mealtime a little easier. There are healthy, pre-made meal companies for your kiddo like Little Spoon, and of course, there are options to make quick meals with ingredients and recipes provided like Hello Fresh. Have your own recipes and enjoy cooking yourself? Consider investing in a grocery delivery service like Walmart Plus, so you can order all your groceries and have them delivered the same day for free.
This one may sound silly at first but seriously, do it. Invest in a phone tripod or a cell phone ring holder with a kickstand so you can make sure to capture day-to-day moments TOGETHER. No one else is there to take photos or videos of you both, so don't miss out on grabbing them yourself. It was raining one day, so I grabbed my son and my phone, propped my phone up, hit record, and we danced in the rain together. The photos and videos I got from that moment are everything.
There will be times when you will need to step away and get things done in the house without your little one (cooking, laundry, going to the bathroom, showering, etc.). So, set up one area in your home that is entirely baby-proof, and make sure you have a monitor camera in that room. This "safe zone" will allow you to get what you need to done, all while safely monitoring your little one from a distance within the house.
A "safe zone" can also be done outside — the yard unfortunately doesn't mow itself. Invest in an outdoor playard with a sun canopy that you can fill with toys, water, and books. Just make sure you can still view your little one from where you are working outside.
Be honest with yourself and others when you need a helping hand. It's so easy to get into the routine of "doing it alone," but everyone needs a break and assistance sometimes. So if you have someone offering to bring you groceries or watch the baby so you can shower, say YES.
Lindsey Negard is the Marketing Manager at SlumberPod and SlumberPod Pet. She lives in Columbus, GA, with her son Michael and two cats Tuxedo and Tigger.
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod Pet (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.