12/11/2012 06:47 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Managing Stress As a Single Parent

Parenthood is challenging enough, but parenthood as a single mom or dad can be much more stressful. Yet, not properly managing stress can cause us to become less effective as a parent, but also in life. In order to enjoy single parenthood, here are a few tips to reduce stress:
  1. Say No and Set Boundaries: One of the most important tips to reduce stress is to learn to say no. Being a single mom or dad means you are probably stretched pretty thin. Prioritize what really matters and be especially vigilant about saying no to those things that don't. Be realistic in assessing what you are capable of doing and what you aren't and most of all, don't beat yourself up for saying "no." Setting boundaries will allow you to better manage your time and allow you to be your best.
  2. Build in You-Time: As a single mom or father, you probably have little time for yourself. Building in alone time gives your mind and body the rest it needs, however, to go full-steam ahead the rest of the time. At least once a week, do something just for yourself. If possible, choose an activity that is relaxing and quiet, in a non-crowded place.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Regimen: Maintaining a healthy regimen is paramount to reducing stress. Eating right and exercising prepares your body to be up for the challenges you face as a single parent. Additionally, exercise helps release built up tension. The healthier you are, the less likely you'll be to catch bugs your children bring home. If your children are young, consider buying a Jogging Stroller so you can go for walks or runs, and not have to worry about getting someone to watch your child. Also, many gyms offer day care services for parents, so look for those that do so you can get the time at the gym you need.
  4. Sleep: As challenging as this can be, make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is important to maintain a healthy immune system, and to properly and effectively function throughout the day. Try to instill sound sleep schedules with your child early on so they get into healthy sleeping habits themselves. A good rule of thumb is to aim for seven to eight hours a night.
  5. Build a Support Network: One of the best tips to reduce stress includes building your support network. Being single as a parent doesn't mean that you are alone. Whether you have family members who live close by or you are part of a playgroup, finding other individuals who you count on to "help out" or provide you with some reprieve. Look in your community for different groups geared towards families, and network with the mothers and fathers to build a network you can lean on.
  6. Cut Yourself Some Slack. Try to set realistic expectations of yourself and of your children. You can't be everything to everyone... and shouldn't put too much pressure on yourself. Be realistic about what you can do and don't beat up on yourself if you slip up once in awhile...
Do you find being a single mom or dad especially stressful? Do you have any tips to reduce stress?