You look across the table at your son. He’s trying to stick cereal up his nose. Before you have a chance to address that situation and avoid a possible trip to the pediatrician’s office, your daughter enters the room in the middle of her third meltdown of the week because she forgot the permission slip you need to sign this morning for her field trip. You hear a weird knocking sound coming from the laundry room — the washer must be broken again. You look at the kitchen clock, and it’s only 6:33 a.m. You miss their mother. She’s been gone for a few years now, and it’s just not getting any easier.
As of 2019, a record 3.23 million children in the United States live with their single fathers. Despite the numbers, single dads don’t tend to provoke the same kind of sympathy and concern that single moms do, but it’s evident that men raising kids alone struggle in many of the same ways. Thankfully, many federal and state programsnow help either sex with housing, food, job skills, and educational assistance, among other services. Clothes Make the Man shares some tips on how to handle stress as a single dad.
Signs of stress and burnout can happen to single dads and may result in headaches, angry outbursts, depression, and sleeplessness. To combat stress, go back to the basics, such as getting plenty of exercise, eating right, and leaving workday stress at the office.
It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it, no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.
Eliminating Financial Stress
Lots of single parents struggle with making ends meet. If that sounds familiar, one smart solution is to dabble in freelancing. By starting a sideline, you can do as much or as little work as you want, adjust your rates according to your needs, and flex your schedule for time with the kiddos. It might even turn into your full-time role if it flourishes.
The best path to success begins with good planning. Even a small side gig should be started in a professional manner. Think through your business idea and how it will meet customer needs, and choose a name that reflects your solution. Then create a business plan so you can mark out your goals; this will also impress lenders if you need funds. And lastly, consider registering your business as an LLC to help protect your assets and enjoy tax advantages. Zenbusiness details how to get started with the process.
Asking for Help
If your bank account is fine but your time management skills are lacking, ask friends and family to help. You really can’t do everything. Maybe your parents would love to take your daughter to soccer practice. It’s okay to take that neighbor up on her offer to prepare meals occasionally. Check with your local hospital or mental health center about a support group for single dads.
Taking Time for Yourself
Maybe you haven’t been out with the guys in a while, so call your family or a babysitter and go out to watch the game. You’ll come home in a better mood, and your children will notice.
Besides your time with grownup friends, create rituals to be more involved with your family. For example, tell bedtime stories to your son. Even though you don’t know how your fairy princess little daughter turned into a melodramatic pre-teen, take the time to listen to her — resist the temptation to become Mr. Fix It, and talk it through with her. It’s your attention she really wants, even if she would never admit it.
Enjoy Each Day
Even when toys are strewn all over the house and you have just worked a 12-hour day, treasure the time with your children. These will be the days that someday you’ll laugh together over and you’ll miss when they pass.