A Single Parent’s Guide to Surviving the School Year
For single parents, sending the kids back to school can be both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, you no longer need to worry about having someone to take care of them during the day.
On the other hand, you need to arrange for pick-ups and drop-offs, figure out how to get them to and from practices and games and come up with all the money for back-to-school shopping, pay-to-play sports fees and other expenses.
Being a single Mom or Dad isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to make the school year go a bit more smoothly. Here is some helpful advice on how to keep it together and be a successful single parent.
Surround Your Family With the Right People
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that seems to hold especially true in families with single parents. Trying to do it all on your own may feel like the “right” thing to do, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with surrounding yourself and your kids with friends and family members who are willing and able to step in and lend a hand when necessary.
Maybe your Mom can watch the kids after school, or maybe your neighbour’s son is on the same football team as your son and can give him rides to and from practice and games you are unable to attend.
You may even be able to find another single parent in your neighbourhood who can help you in exchange for you helping them with their kids when they need it.
It doesn’t matter who becomes a part of your “village.” What matters is surrounding yourself with caring people who aren’t afraid to help out. You may be single, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own.
The school year is chaotic. From kids needing to get on the bus at different times to afterschool activities and weekend events, it seems like there is always something going on.
With things happening at different times, it is easy to lose track of who needs to be where and when. Throw your own work schedule into the mix, and it can seem impossible to keep everything straight.
Organize yourself at the beginning of each school year by figuring out exactly when each child needs to leave for school and when they’ll be returning home. Make note of school holidays, times for practices, games, concerts and other activities. Put all of this information on a calendar that everyone in the family has access to.
Add your work schedule to the calendar and encourage your kids to add anything that may come up during the year. Whether you use a paper calendar or a calendar app that’s synced to everyone’s mobile devices, having an organized schedule makes it much easier to make sure everyone gets where they need to be.
Getting organized makes it much easier to plan ahead, which is a major part of why it is so important. If you work from 9 to 5 every day, and your daughter needs to be picked up from soccer practice at 4:30, you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure she has a ride home.
You’ll also need to plan for things like school breaks. Your kids may get two weeks off for Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have all that time off, too. Start looking for sitters early to avoid the last-minute rush and the frustration of not being able to find the help you need.
Planning is also important when it comes to being able to afford everything your kids will need during the school year.
While their exact needs change from year to year, it’s important to come up with a general idea of how much you will need to spend on each child’s school supplies and fees per year. Be sure to include everything from pens, pencils and notebooks to polos, jeans, blank t shirts and sports equipment. Divide that amount by the number of times you get paid per year, and you will know exactly how much money you need to set aside from each paycheck to cover those annual expenses.
Prepare Meals in Advance
Meal prepping on your days off allows you to create healthy and affordable meals for the entire family without needing to worry about cooking every single day.
Whether you’re putting together lunches for the week or creating dinners that are ready to be popped in the oven for a hot meal in minutes, prepping your meals ahead of time is a must during the school year.
Planning an entire week’s worth of meals in advance may seem overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that doing it all at once saves a lot of time during the week. And it helps you avoid those impromptu drive-through runs in between work, school and other activities.
Make Time for Yourself
Being a single parent is a lot of hard work, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the daily grind of getting the kids off to school, going to work, making sure everyone makes it to practices and afterschool activities, etc.
While the school year is chaotic and it may feel like you don’t have any time for yourself, it’s important to practice self-care.
- Make time to get your nails done or relax in a hot bubble bath.
- Find the time to read the latest bestseller.
- Go see a movie with a friend.
- Have a kid-free guys/girls night out.
No matter what you do, do something that makes you feel good.
Having “me time” helps single parents relax, unwind and recharge. It’s good for the kids, too, as a happy and recharged parent is more patient and attentive.
Single Moms and Dads have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. With the tips above, you can make the school year a bit easier and more manageable for everyone in the family.
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