by Sarah Kennington
Double parenting in itself is a blessing, with situations that at times can be difficult. Couple the difficult times with single parenting and you can at times find things unmanageable.
Learning to handle my children on my own was quite a task but a job that I, and you can take a hold of and do well. Being a single parent for six years, I learned that I had to organize and prioritize. Having a well-thought-out and implemented plan of organization will save you in every aspect.
Let's start with finances. I did not have a money tree growing in my back yard, so I had to learn how to manage my money in a way that would give us all a livable lifestyle. In any household one of the major expenses is food. Learning how to cook in a way that is suitable timewise for yourself and your children is actually an easy thing to do. There is a great website on once-a-month cooking (www.oamc.com) that will teach you how to do all of your cooking in one day, allowing you to come home from work and pull your dinner out of the freezer. This will comfort you in many ways. I remember feeling so relieved when I didn't have to worry, "What am I going to cook tonight?" or to try to cook dinner and not have all the ingredients. I spent a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at the beginning of the month in the kitchen. My freezer space was limited, so I did cooking for two weeks. This also gave me the ability to utilize sales in my area grocery stores. Crock pot cooking is also an excellent way to go. Take your time in learning; don't expect to learn it all at once. Invest in the book Miserly Moms. She has some of the best ideas I have seen about running a kitchen. Her book has saved me plenty of time and money. You can find her at http://www.miserlymoms.com. She also has a new link to support for single parents.
Another aspect of your organization is keeping your house clean and orderly. Get yourself a calendar and put it in a convenient location. On each day give yourself one cleaning task. If your children are old enough, have them pitch in; you are a family and it takes all members of a family to help. A three- year-old can pick up her toys. If you assign yourself the task of cleaning the bathroom on Wednesdays, when you go in on a Tuesday and it's a mess, don't let it bother you. Say to yourself, "I will take care of that tomorrow". There is something about having it assigned that will help you to relax. Remember to keep in mind that you can't do everything all the time every day of the week. Your list of "to do" is long enough. The trick to sanity is to assign tasks and implement your organization techniques. You will find something that works for you and you can use this type of calendaring for many things.
Do you have one child that has baseball practice three times a week? Carpool with another parent. If you can't find a carpool partner, assign one of your nights to picking him/her up and double up on your work on a different night.
One thing that is true for any parent: if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. It is vital to you as well as your children that you have some time for yourself. If you don't have a family member that can help you, form a group of friends that you can trade time with. I used to take two nights a month and spend that time reading, going to a movie, visiting a friend's house, even taking a long hot bath with no interruption. You can't lose yourself because you must hang on to what makes you the wonderful parent that you are. Get your calendar back out. Call a friend, and ask him/her to switch a couple of nights with you in watching children. Mark it on your calendar as "my night."
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