Raising a baby is tough when you have a spouse: when but as a single parent raising a baby, you may feel completely alone. You may worry that you won't be able to raise the child through infancy, and that they will not receive the same opportunities as other children. Sometimes, for the silliest reasons, you may even feel guilty.
For single parents, feeling like you are not enough and never will be enough is unfortunately common. It's unfortunate because what you should feel is the opposite. By raising your baby alone, you are sacrificing so much to give your baby a safe and stable home life.
This article explores fifteen truths of single parenting through the first year of your baby's life. It includes hard emotions and situations that, when you're raising a baby as a single parent, you're bound to feel at some point. Sometimes being able to relate to the feeling helps people feel less alone. Hopefully, that is the case as you read through this list.
16 There's Nothing Scarier
There's no way around this. When you're a single parent, you have two worlds on your shoulders: your baby's and your own. Like it or not, the first year is very influential on your baby. They're entering the most rapid period of growth they will experience in their entire life, and you are here to guide them through it.
By necessity, you need to own the responsibility. The next few years may come at a price. For your baby's health, you may have to sacrifice social opportunities or personal time to make sure your baby is happy and healthy. If you can acknowledge the responsibility without bitterness and do what you can, it will go a long way for your own well-being.
15 Sleep Is The First To Go
Nights alone with your baby can be challenging, especially during the first few months. Raising a newborn is exhausting enough during the day without getting needed sleep. Instead of switching shifts with your partner, you will need to get up twice as much as couples. Setting up a sleep schedule for your baby as a single parent can take time, and until that happens, you may be at your wit's end.
Get some sleep whenever you can. If your baby naps during the day, make it your nap time if you can. If you can't sleep for whatever reason, then do something relaxing like reading a book or taking a bath. You may also want to put the baby's crib in your room so you can comfort them easily and have to get up less during the night.
14 You Absolutely Need Help
Have you heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child?" This applies doubly so for single parents. Lean on others for support if you need it. Nobody can raise a baby alone, and your family and friends are here to support you through your baby's first year.
Call your mom or other loved ones if you need advice, support, or even a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes all we need to keep going is someone who listens and cares about us. Find someone who you can rely on to provide that support not just for your baby's well-being but for your own.
If you don't have a loved one who understands what you're going through, you may want to look for a local support group or seek out other single parents who can empathize and even share what works for them. Don't feel guilty if you need to use childcare through a babysitter or daycare service during the day. No matter how amazing of a parent you can be, you need help.
13 Second To Go Is Your Social Life
During the first through years, you won't have to say goodbye to your social life life but you may have to put it on hold for a while. Between working and supporting your baby, life hits you and you may not have time to grab a coffee with friends in the evening like you used to.
Being a single parent can be isolating, and when your main source of contact comes from your baby, you may crave connection with other adults (or at least someone who doesn't spit up when you hug them). To combat loneliness, keep busy. This doesn't mean overload yourself with work until the stress tears you apart, but try to focus on what you can do. If you can't take time to get lunch with a co-worker, try inviting them over to dinner later in the week.
Also, you are more than a person with a baby: you owe it to yourself to use childcare and have "me-time" when you need it. Remember that no person is an island and if you don't take time away from the baby to seek support, you won't be able to survive as a single parent.
12 People Passing Judgements
Nobody knows your story, but that won't stop strangers from making unfair judgments before they get a chance to understand you. When people assume that you became a single parent because you made poor choices or your partner left you, it's not right or okay. But that doesn't make it hurt less. Sometimes the hardest part about single parenting isn't just raising the baby: it's also trying to convince yourself that, no matter what others say, you are just as good of a parent as a married couple.
Don't let anyone else's judgment define you. Work on self-improvement whenever you can, but don't forget self-acceptance, either. If you're weighed down by criticism from others who are not in your situation, focus on what you're doing well right now and what you can do to improve the situation.
Nobody's perfect, and if you're chasing someone else's vision of the ideal parent, you're only going to hurt yourself. No matter how hard you try, you'll never get there because it doesn't exist. Do what's best for your situation. You know your baby better than anyone else.
11 There's Never "Enough" Of Anything
You're not a bad parent if you fight to make ends meet every month. You're not a bad parent if you don't get as much work done as you wanted because you needed to take care of your baby. You're not a bad parent if you don't enroll your baby in "Mommy and Me" swimming courses or read to them at the library because you just don't have the time.
If you feel like you never have or do enough, give yourself a little credit. A bad parent wouldn't worry that they're not providing for their child. That you are concerned shows how much you care about your baby and how much you want to give them every opportunity to grow.
10 Hard To Stay Positive
When you're physically and emotionally drained, you can feel low quickly. Focusing on the negative can be easier than considering the positive, and it is so much more satisfying. Yet if you dwell in unhappiness too much, it will drown you. Parenting alone is hard on so many levels, but you must keep afloat for your kid's sake and also your own. Take care of yourself, get enough rest, and maintain as positive of an attitude as you can.
Sometimes, no matter what we do, we may experience depression that is beyond anything a change of perspective can help. Single parenting can come from emotional hardships such as divorce or death of a spouse, and you may feel so helpless and alone that you feel as if you cannot overcome it. If this is the case, you may want to seek help for depression through a support group or counselling.
9 Hard On Your Dating Life
When you're ready to enter the dating pool again, you may feel anxiety for all kinds of reasons. Between nap time and play dates, squeezing in time for anything more than a quick Tinder date may seem impossible. Not only that, but you may feel that as a single parent, you carry a lot of baggage. Raising a baby is worthwhile, but unbelievably stressful, and you know this for a fact. Who would willingly drag themselves into this lifestyle?
Finding the right person takes time, and it would take time even if you were not a single mother. If you haven't found the right person yet, don't worry. Opportunities for love come through all kinds of places, and you may meet a potential partner where you least expect it. If you're interested in dating, open yourself to the idea of dating and don't let your doubts consume you.
7 Feeling Guilty...All The Time
Unfortunately, guilt and single-parenting go hand-in-hand. Although raising a baby alone comes with so many sacrifices, you may worry that you are not making enough to raise your child right. Every day you leave them with a nanny to work or can't provide for everything you'd like to give them, you may feel crushing guilt. You may also feel guilt because you feel like this situation is your fault for whatever reason or wish that your child could grow up with two parents.
Guilt by itself can be healthy. What you do with these feelings determines how beneficial they are. Don't hate yourself, and don't dwell so much on the past that you're unable to move forward. If your past haunts you, remind yourself that you are a different person now and do your best to raise your baby. Every day, take a step forward and look back at past regrets a little less.
6 Scheduling Me Time
Take care of yourself. When you hear the phrase "self-care," you may cringe and worry that you're getting selfish. But keeping healthy isn't all about manicures or eating bon-bons by the fire. Look at it this way: if you're unable to stay healthy (and this includes emotionally healthy), you will not be able to take care of your baby. You just won't. If you don't collapse of physical exhaustion, then the stress alone will eat at you from the inside.
Spend your time wisely. While your baby's taking a nap or your mother offers to watch her for an hour or two, take some time to set your worries aside and focus on yourself. Go for a walk or get lunch somewhere nearby. Your baby will be there for you when you get back, and when you return, you'll be much more refreshed.
5 Trying Not To Let It Get To You
This is a phrase I learned from my supervisor at work. She used to express concern with her manager that she never felt like she was doing enough and couldn't keep every concern from worrying her. He told her in return that if she let the stress get at her, this job would kill her. She would never be able to do everything she wanted to accomplish and if she dwelt on that, eventually she would become so paralyzed that she wouldn't be able to do anything.
So it is with single parenting. The stress can kill you, easily. Raising a baby is one roller coaster after another and when you're a single parent, you're never off-duty. You need to make a decision, for the sake of your sanity. Either you can abandon yourself to every worry and let it keep you up at night, or you can take control of what you can change. The choice is yours.
4 Experiencing The Hard Things Alone
Your friends and family can be an excellent support during your first years raising a baby alone. When you need a shoulder to lean on, they can keep you up when otherwise, you would fall down.
Yet there are always some roads that we have to walk alone. Your neighbor won't be there when it's three in the morning and the baby just won't go to bed. You can talk to your mom afterwards, but when a stranger's giving you and your child a stink-eye on the morning bus, you need to be brave enough to face it alone. No matter how much others love you, you may have to deal with the loneliness and doubt alone some nights.
You will be okay. You may not feel like it right now, but you are strong. Know that you can do hard things and that when the time comes, you'll be ready.
3 Never Getting A Break
Some days, you may feel like every moment is one mistake after another. Raising a baby is no easy task as a single parent: rather, parenting is very, very busy. Try as you might to schedule a little "me time," that may not work out once and a while.
When the bad days come and you're beyond frazzled, remember: this too shall pass. You'll look back on these days years from now and wonder how you had the strength to do it. Right now, tho
2 Not Being Able To Do Everything
Do yourself a favor and avoid comparing yourself to other parents, whether they're single or raising their baby with a partner. Thanks to social media, we get a full view of what other parents are doing (and what we're not) on a daily basis. If you let it get to you, you may forget about what you're doing right and harp on yourself for everything you're not doing.
If your friend takes their baby to the park every day, you're not a bad parent if you just don't have the time. Babies are humans, and humans are all different. There is no one right way to raise your child. Take care of their needs. As long as they're happy and healthy, you're on the right track.
1 Being Thanked
When you look in the mirror, you may see two things staring back: exhaustion and insecurity. You don't have to ignore your flaws, but know that their presence doesn't invalidate you as a parent. Being a single parent is hard, maybe the hardest thing you will ever go through, and if you feel like you're not enough, it's okay.
You're providing your baby with a family, and you're doing better than you think. Some day, years from now, your child is going to thank you and tell you how much they appreciated your sacrifices. They may not do so in words, but in their little accomplishments and moments of joy.
Every hug, every smile, every "I love you!" is a testament to how important what you're doing is and that you're doing it just fine.
What you're doing goes above and beyond what's normally expected in parenthood. After all, you are one person doing twice the work, both emotionally and physically. If anything, you deserve to be praised, not reprimanded. But that doesn't make it any less hard.