The almighty American gem Jim Gaffigan once said, “You know what it’s like having a fourth kid? Imagine you’re drowning, then someone hands you a baby.” Now picture doing that with one hand tied behind your back. Okay, you’re probably starting to get an admittedly strange picture of parenting on your own.
The truth is, it’s hard raising a kid — especially a newborn — as a single parent. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to help you get around some of the biggest challenges that you’ll face.
Don’t Let One Parenting Philosophy Hold You Down
Everyone and their mother has a parenting philosophy these days. You’ve got your authoritarian parents and your authoritative parents — and don’t forget the permissive parents or the uninvolved ones.
Philosophies are a great way to get your bearings as a parent. However, you have to resist the urge to get locked into a single mindset.
Even little things like baby gear can be a hot topic for the parenting philosophy debate. One parent will tell you you need a diaper caddy. The next will say you need a full-blown diaper bag. Another will inform you that you need both. The correct answer? Whatever you pick between a diaper bag or a caddy is ultimately up to what fits your particular lifestyle the best.
Do your best to forge your own philosophy. Cherry-pick the stuff that you like from each model and build something that suits your proclivities. All of these are models that millions of parents use to raise their offspring anyway. There’s no right or wrong answer here.
Aim for Sleep Quality …Because Quantity Is No Longer a Thing
Being a single parent is a recipe for insanity. Not only are you expected to meet impossible standards set by society, but you’re also expected to do it on minimal sleep. Getting minimal sleep is no surprise for a new parent. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel just yet. Instead, look for ways to improve the quality of your sleep.
For instance, make sure that you’re sleeping on a good mattress with a good pillow. You should also try to stay in the best sleeping positions to help with the lower back pain that always comes with hours spent holding a baby.
You can also try to avoid classic sleep disruptors like caffeine, screens, and heavy meals too close to bedtime. By considering the quality of your sleep, you can capitalize on every minute that the little one gives you to rest on your own.
Research Is Huge
Research, just like sleepless nights, never ends for parents.
Everything from when to introduce solids to using VOC-free paints while you’re breastfeeding requires a certain amount of fact-checking. This is a commitment that you should try to stick to.
It’s tempting to get lazy at times as you try to make hundreds and thousands of decisions every day. As a single parent, though, it is worth finding those sources of wisdom and knowledge (whether it be through a fellow parent, a family member, or good ole Google) and then tapping into them regularly to help guide your parenting journey.
Think About Your Mental Health
A parenting journey isn’t a selfish one, but still, many people insist that you need to think about self-care. Sure, that sounds great in theory. When the rubber hits the road, though, taking care of your physical body, while possible and advisable when taking care of a newborn, can be extremely challenging at best.
Most of the time, as a single parent with a newborn, you simply won’t have an adequate amount of time to spend on yourself. And you know what? That’s okay. This is just a season of your life, and it should be spent pouring into your cute, adorable, time-consuming, exhausting bundle of joy.
That being said, there’s one area of your health that you can still try to address: your mind. As you spend time nursing or watching your child nod off, take a few moments to regularly check in with your mental state.
Managing mental health has become particularly important during the pandemic. Between isolation and exhaustion, it’s wise to see how you’re doing regularly. If you find that you’re slipping into serious levels of anxiety or depression, look for ways to fight back, like:
- Shifting your perspective or changing your mindset
- Journaling your thoughts and feelings
- Reaching out to a family member or friend to chat
- Going for a walk or playing with your newborn to get some exercise and relieve some stress
You can’t expect your health as a single parent to be on point all the time. Even so, you can still try to do what you can to keep your mind sharp and your spirits up.
Navigating Newly-Minted Single Parenthood
There are countless decisions you’re going to make as you raise your newborn. You’ll feel overwhelmed at times and exhausted at other times. Honestly, you’ll feel both of those things most of the time.
However, if you’ve got a handful of critical tips like these handy, they can help you navigate the low points as you work through the next few months with your newborn. Don’t worry. This period won’t last forever. The short nights of sleep will get longer. The brain fog will fade away, too.
The important thing is keeping yourself focused on the goal of successfully getting through each day as you build your fledgling family.