Help for Overwhelmed Single Parents

What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed as a Single Parent

"How can I get it all done? I'm only one person!" This is the cry of many overwhelmed single parents. When everything—from meals and schoolwork, to scheduling and finances—falls on your shoulders, you have to be organized and develop a plan that works well for you and your family. Here are some suggestions for the next time you feel overwhelmed as a single parent:

  • 01 of 07

    Start by taking a deep breath.

    Woman taking a deep breath.
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    A lot of single parents reading this are looking for solutions right now. Start by taking a deep breath—the kind that really fills your lungs. Feel your chest expand and fill, and let it out slowly. You've got this. Read on for more...

  • 02 of 07

    Believe in yourself.

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    Single parents possess amazing strength, which comes from loving your kids more than anything in the world. Sure, you might be going through a rough patch at the moment, but you won't feel overwhelmed forever. Remember: how you feel right now is just one part of who you are. And sometimes, accepting what feels like a weakness is the first step toward claiming real growth and development. So don't be afraid to acknowledge that you're in a hard place—that might be the first step toward...MORE climbing out!

  • 03 of 07

    Embrace the concept of taking baby steps.

    Taking baby steps
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    Choose one area of your life where you feel overwhelmed as a single parent, and begin to think of small changes that you can work toward in order to gain control and move beyond the overwhelm. For example, if getting everyone out the door in the morning is a big issue, begin to work on developing some morning routines to ease the stress and help you save time. Work on just one area at a time, so that your effort to gain control doesn't, in itself, become overwhelming.

  • 04 of 07

    Take control of your schedule and responsibilities

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    Sometimes that overwhelmed feeling comes from legitimately having too much to do. Use a calendar to keep track of all of your appointments, the kids' schedules, and due dates for important work or school-related projects. Just getting it all down on paper can help you feel more in control. And at the very least, it will help you see instances where you can't be in two places at once and will need to ask for help as a single parent. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Communicate with your co-parent.

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    For single parents raising their children with the help of a co-parent, taking steps toward improving your relationship can help. Think of it like a business. You don't have to like him (or her), or agree with your ex's choices. But if you're raising kids together, then you do have to learn how to communicate on the most basic level. And an added bonus: working toward communicating effectively with your co-parent can significantly reduce your stress level, too!

  • 06 of 07

    Make time for fun.

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    Remember to spend time with your kids, just having fun as a family. Sometimes this will mean planning activities like going to the park or enjoying a family movie night. But that doesn't have to be the case all the time. Some of the most fun you'll ever have can be found in the small things, like being spontaneous and silly with your kids.


  • 07 of 07

    Practice self-care.

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    This last tip is one that a lot single parents struggle with: Never forget to take care of yourself—especially if you feel like you're always on the bottom of the list. Whether it's taking a class, restarting your exercise routine, or simply reading a book, make time to do whatever rejuvenates you. It's one of the best ways to beat that feeling of being overwhelmed as a single parent ... whether you've been doing this for years or the journey has just begun.