Patents, we are strong, we are resilient, we are fierce, and we are able! We can do anything, right?
Well, almost. Listen, I’m an optimist to a fault. I’ve been told I see through rose-colored sunglasses even, but I can’t really see the problem with that – especially after this past year we all just had. When I set my eyes on a goal, I set out to achieve it and get tunnel vision like whoa. Moving towards my goals with the optimism of Superwoman makes any obstacle look tiny.
That is, until those tiny obstacles actually turn out to be big and realistic limitations. One thing age and experience have taught me is, I may feel like I can do anything, but my body, my circumstances, and my time limitations all tell me differently. The fact of the matter is, I can only do what I can do.
In 2017, I decided to become a single foster mom. In 2018, I became a mom for the first time to my beautiful foster babies and kids. It was one of the most rewarding times in my life. No doubt, it was also the most challenging time of my life because of how incredibly difficult it was for me to get everything done every single day.
We all know single parents. We all know how hard it can be and most certainly is. But I feel as if it’s a rarity that we offer sound solutions for single-parenting aside from, “Girl, you need a man!”.
GIRL, YOU DON’T NEED A MAN TO GET IT DONE.
What you’re going to do is find a way to single parent for now, and do it well. Once you figure out a few life-changing and life-saving shortcuts, you’ll be able to focus on finding the perfect partner (if that’s what you desire, of course). That’s why I put this list together for you. I found out the hard way how to take a few shortcuts in order to make my single parenthood easier. I hope this list blesses you and is found useful!
1. ) The Toddler Tower
If you’re in the Montessori trends, you’re going to already know about this. However, I only recently discovered this amazing little helper, and I can’t rave enough about it.
What it is: This is literally a toddler tower that keeps your child safe while elevated so she can see and be a part of what you’re doing! There’s almost nothing more stressful than having little ones rampaging about around your legs while you’re trying to get something done because they want “up up up up up.” Additionally, there’s almost nothing more discouraging than knowing you’re going to have to let them down because you need to cook or clean and there’s no one else around to hold the babies.
Well, parents, look no further.
This is the one that I got:
This toddler tower is done by a store on Etsy called WoodCraftsByDouglas. The one I got was unfinished so that I could decorate it the way that I wanted for my toddler.
If I had known about this when I was fostering, my entire life would have been different.
2.) Baby Wraps
If I had a dime for every time I heard a Karen tell me, “You’re going to spoil that child!”, girl, my student loans would be paid off. This isn’t the time nor the place to get on my soapbox about how our American parenting institutions have done nothing but let us down because of how much we’re set up for failure with unrealistic ideas of what parenting actually looks like. However, believe you me, we’re set up for failure.
Holding a baby will not “spoil” the baby. Hold your baby as much as you want to!
But also, hold your baby as much as you NEED to. Baby won’t stop crying? Hold her! Baby’s fussy again? Hold him! Baby wants to be rocked again and again? Do not feel guilty about holding your baby as much as your baby is asking to be held. Why? There are so many reasons why, but we’re here to talk about time and efficiency. You don’t have time to keep going around in circles.
The best solution for this? A baby wrap! For every foster baby I had, I wrapped them and carried them around while I did whatever I needed to do – dishes, laundry, walks, gardening, talking on the phone. It didn’t matter what I needed to get done, I got it done because my hands were free. Now that I’m a biological mother, I can you, my own parenthood and dynamics were easier because I wrapped my child and carried her around while I did whatever I needed to do. Period.
3.) Toy Kitchen Playsets & Gadgets
It probably seems like I’m focusing a lot on kitchen-time here – and that’s because I literally am. See, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for a slew of reasons. I value the ability and the time to show my kids how to make something with their hands, whether it’s food, beverages, taking notes, crafting small crafts, or folding dish towels. In my opinion, communion occurs when we’re partaking in activities, even beyond eating. Communion occurs when we’re sharing in something nourishing, and it so happens that kitchen-based activities are a type of learning tool I like to use.
That’s why I advocate for tiny, kid-sized kitchen toys, gadgets and playsets. When I can show my daughter how to do something, and then hand her appropriately-sized tools, she learns by mimicking. So, I can be chopping veggies or stirring the rice, and she can do that, too!
However, the best part of using these is that you’ve redirected your child to partake in their own food preparation while your hands are now freed up to do more things. This keeps the littles busy while they learn and you get your routine done!
4.) Background Music
Fact: background music in my household has been an absolute life saver. It was 2017 when I first discovered this. As I prepared for my first foster child, I had the child’s room complete and was just waiting for my case worker to call me. But I knew something was missing. I sat in the room and tried to envision what was missing. I had everything I believed a child needed, didn’t I?
The longer I sat there and envisioned a daily life as a foster child, I began to truly understand the stress that comes with it. Even now I can’t really imagine what a foster child goes through when they’re placed into a new home. But one thing I do know is, soft background music actually helps.
It calms the nerves, sets a soothing tone, offers sounds to tune into, and offers the chance to learn lyrics that you can hum to your baby or children, even when the music is off.
As a single parent, I know that sometimes noise can become overwhelming and over-stimulating. However, if you pick something soothing that you don’t mind listening to again and again, I assure you that you’ll begin to feel the stress fall away.
My CD of choice was and still is:
Nothing compares to the peace that this CD brings to our house as soon as we hear the very first note.
5.) An Extended Family & Support Group
There have been a few times I can honestly say I wouldn’t have gotten through single parenthood without a support system. When emergencies happen, lean on your support system. When you need to have a mental breakdown and cry on someone’s shoulders because things are getting too hard, you need to rely on your support system!
As single parents, we’ve often become too independent for our own good. Sometimes that may mean we’ve burned a bridge or two. Remember, it takes twice as long to build bridges you’ve burned. So careful what bridges are torn down, create and maintain support systems, and you’ll be good to go.
6.) Routine, Routine, Routine
I’ll venture to say that the biggest enemy for single parents is a lack of routine. There’s nothing more stressful.
Get yourself a routine and stick with it. I understand things come up, I truly do. When I fostered, our routine was habitually interrupted by the foster system. It was no one’s fault per se, yet it was a thorn in my flesh nonetheless.
The best thing you can do is to find what works, considering both convenience and how it teaches discipline, and create a routine that you all can adhere to. Your children rely on it to learn and function, so if you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for them.
7.) A Reliable, On-Call Babysitter
Oh, hunny do I know how hard this is. Reliable people are one in a million, aren’t they?
However, as a single parent, you’re going to have to rely on someone other than yourself when you have things you have to do and cannot include the children.
Sometimes there are drug tests you have to take for new jobs, interviews, court dates, – or even dates – and you won’t be able to bring the kids. You must be able to rely on someone! Having a babysitter’s number in your back pocket is just about the smartest thing you can have back there. If you don’t have someone in mind now, you need to start looking today!
8.) Sleeping Workarounds
Oh sweet sleep, how I miss you. When I was a single parent, this was like gold – I never had any.
Now that I’m a biological mother, I put down my coat of arms and stopped losing sleep because of abstract things like “sleep schedules.” Hunny, if you have one, please stop what you’re doing right now and pat yourself on the back.
For the rest of us, if you need to co sleep just to get some sleep, I’d say call it, go get that baby, and get you some sleep.
You best believe I am dead serious.
Can we talk about the back pain that comes with single parenthood, please? Since no one else really is? I KNOW that, even when you share responsibilities with a partner that your back still hurts. But it hurts even more when you’re going it alone!
Sure, I use one of these to pick up trash, but I also use one of these to just function. Save your back and your sanity and get you one of these ASAP.
10.) A Solid Understanding of How Strong You Actually Are
There’s no Amazon link to this one. I saved this point for last because it’s the most important.
You see, you’re much stronger than you realize. And though our wants and needs, and desires and dreams can sometimes include a partner, when you’re parenting alone, you must learn to pull from reserves you never knew you had.
The most resilient among us probably never truly understood exactly how strong and resilient they were until they looked back in retrospect.
You must learn tools and tricks to survive, but you almost must learn how strong you actually are.