Navigating Solo Parenting: 10 Essential Tips for Success

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There are plenty of reasons why you may find yourself solo parenting. This post covers 10 essential tips for success as a solo parenting mother.

I totally understand how tough being a solo mother can be. It’s not easy to handle everything on your own. Your significant other might work long hours or weird shifts away from home, travel a lot or you may find yourself single after having a baby. A lot of reasons can lead to you being a solo parent for a while or for the long term!

Since my baby was 2 weeks old, I have been solo parenting Monday through Friday due to my spouse’s work schedule. And let me tell you – It’s no piece of cake! However, with the right tools and some preparation, I have created a great system that works for me and lets me excel as a solo parent while enjoying some me-time as well.

That’s why I’d like to share with you the most helpful tips that really worked for me when I was a solo parent. I hope they can help you too and offer some much-needed support. Continue reading to find out what my 10 essential hacks for successful solo parenting are!

1. Prepare Things in Advance

Ever heard that preparation is key? If you’re spending most of your time alone with one or several small children, it is EVERYTHING. A little preparation ahead of time will save you tons of time throughout the day and make day-to-day activities much less stressful.

You can prepare meals ahead of time, clothes and activities for children, set up sleep spaces and routines. For example, my husband and I like to meal prep on Sundays so both he and I will have healthy meals to quickly heat up for the week and don’t end up eating nothing or garbage. It will take us anywhere from 2-3 hours to make lunches and dinners for 3-4 days, which ends up being a great investment of our time. During the week I won’t have to bother cooking with a baby in tow as this time has been freed up. And I get to eat delicious homemade food. Double win!

2. Simplify Your Day

Sometimes we overcomplicate things, thinking it will make us more productive. Does an elaborate morning ritual or bedtime routine complicate your life? Simplify it. Are you committing yourself and child to too many activities? Simplify by cutting out activities and staying at home instead. Are you constantly juggling childcare with work duties, never quite able to really focus on one thing? Simplify by allocating time to single task one thing only.

3. Build a Support Network

This one isn’t always easy unless you have fantastic friends & family around but building a support network can make a world of difference for a solo parent. Family and friends can help you look after your children or simply provide a home-cooked meal and help with some household chores. If you don’t have a local network, online communities can help you navigate the challenges of solo parenting by providing advice and encouragement.

4. Prioritize Self-Care

Make time for self-care activities that recharge and rejuvenate you, such as exercise, hobbies, or alone time. For me, this starts with getting up before my baby, so I can have a cup of coffee by myself and read through messages I received overnight. I also insist on working out every day to feel better. It is a great idea to find ways to incorporate children in such activities, especially since you are on your own as a solo parent. If your kids are too young to do the activity with you, find an engaging toy to keep them busy or use a swing or bouncer to create a safe and comfortable temporary space for them. We don’t want to overuse containers like that (try limiting use to 20 mins) but sometimes you just have to do what’s necessary to take care of yourself.

5. Establish Clear Communication

Maintain open and honest communication with your partner and other household members about expectations, responsibilities, and parenting decisions. This can also include limitations of what you can do as a solo parent. Solo parenting can very much be just about survival and more difficult parenting tasks will need to be postponed until you are not alone. It also means communicating when you really DO need help. This can be hard for many mothers who think they can – or need to – “do it all”. Your family will be much better off if you know your limits and communicate them, so your partner can help (or send help if they are unavailable!).

6. Create a Solo Parenting Routine

Develop a consistent daily routine that provides structure for both you and your children, helping to manage household tasks, work and childcare effectively. A structure will ensure no one feels left behind and creates a beautiful daily flow that children thrive in and that can help you keep a clear mind. Usually, such a flow will involve daily rituals such as a morning and bedtime ritual, but it can also include consistent mealtimes or consist of a consistent flow of play time, meal time and nap time (not necessarily in this order, it’s more about keeping a flow). Find a routine that works for you and stick to it.

7. Delegate and Outsource

Delegate tasks to your children based on their age and capabilities, and consider outsourcing certain responsibilities, such as house cleaning or other chores, to ease your workload. When I realized I could not take care of a baby all day and cook, clean, garden, work from home, take care of the dog, myself and have hobbies all at once, I outsourced things such as lawncare and certain work-related tasks to relieve some of my burden. You could also hire childcare, even though this is not something I personally wanted (I WANT to raise my kids, which is why I quit full-time in-person work to begin with). See which tasks are just a burden to your day and delegate or outsource them if they need to be done.

8. Include your children

This may seem impossible to do, but whenever you can, include your children into whatever you are doing! Your days will be so much easier if you don’t constantly try to create “child activities” and put off adult activities. Need to cook a meal? Have your kids help or, if we are talking infants, have them next to you in tummy time or sitting engaging in some sensory play. Need to clean up? Same thing. Need to take a shower? Invite them to take it with you! Or even better: make it a family bath. Such a time saver and usually fun for everyone involved.

Being alone all day with kids may seem like you have to wait until they are asleep so you can do adult things, but involving them will almost always result in happy kids and will save you plenty of time.

9. Embrace Flexibility

Understand that flexibility is key when managing solo parenting. Things will almost certainly not go as planned – and that’s ok! As long as noone’s hurt, try not to be too hard on yourself for not meeting your or anyone else’s expectations and just go with the flow. Plans can always be adjusted and sometimes the best days are those without any plans to begin with!

10. Set Boundaries

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! When it seems like you have to do it all (and lots of motherhood can feel like that) establishing clear boundaries with your partner, children, and others to protect your time, energy, and personal well-being is possibly one of the most important things you can do as a successful solo parent. This can look like setting rules for children and other family members, so you don’t constantly have to reiterate things or being clear on how you will parent and sticking to it. It can also mean that you set boundaries regarding social outings (e.g. no outings or visitors while you’re solo with the kids) or boundaries for yourself, such as not leaning onto your kids for entertainment or emotional support.

Bonus Tip: Celebrate Your Strengths!

Recognize that you are doing an amazing job and celebrate your achievements as a solo parenting (married) woman. Celebrate your resilience, adaptability, and the love you provide for your children. Solo parenting can be a little bit overwhelming but is totally doable and enjoyable with the right attitude!

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About The Author

Julia Billings

Hi, I'm Julia! I am a working mother, matricentric life, career & business coach, ex-international HR expert, and motherhood studies practitioner. In my work as a coach, consultant and facilitator, I help other moms tackle negative emotions such as guilt, fear, anger, and overwhelm and create a roadmap for their lives, businesses and/or careers, so they can mother with confidence and focus on family life first.

My approach integrates my experience as an international career & leadership development professional, my personal journey as a mother, and my certifications as a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), Motherhood Studies Practitioner, and a Master's in Education.

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