Becoming a single parent can be something of a shock to the system, regardless of the circumstances. It might be that your relationship has broken up or it might be that you’ve adopted a child on your own. However it came about you will have a little person or persons relying on you to know everything, to be able to do everything, to support them financially and everything else. That’s a hell of a job description (and between us the pay is terrible!).
Looking After You
First of all don’t panic. Hundreds, thousands and millions of parents before you have found themselves in the same or similar situation and survived. While becoming a single parent can be overwhelming, scary, emotional and downright exhausting remember that you are up to challenge, that you can do it and that at the end of the day you are in charge now so what you say goes.
Focus initially on the practical but make sure that you take the time to process your change in circumstances and deal with any emotional issues that are bound to have been caused by it.
One of the most difficult things to get to grips with as a single parent is managing your finances, particularly when you are recently a single parent who has perhaps been used to two incomes or more income overall. Being on your own may initially mean that you need to take time off from work, reduce your hours or pay for childcare.
Our Money Matters section is packed with information on how to manage on a budget and deal with everything financial that single parenting throws at you.
Having recently become a single parent what you must first do is get together all the information you have on your income and outgoings and check to see what benefits you may be entitled to, if appropriate.
When a relationship breaks down or you become a single parent for any reason housing may be an issue that needs to be resolved quickly. You need to be housed with your family somewhere safe and appropriate and this is your first priority. After this look at where you want to live, what you can afford and whether you’ll be able to get any financial assistance i.e. housing benefit.
If you are in a joint tenancy or co-own a home get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau who will help you look at your rights and find legal representation if appropriate.
With so much being thrown at you and you feeling alone when you first become a single parent it is important that you realise that there is support out there and that you allow people to help. Friends and family may well want to help and while you might want to go it alone do let them help until you find your single parenting groove (we’ve been there and the first days and months can be a physical and mental rollercoaster). Of course, we are always here at Dream Bear, offering advice and guidance, as are many other organisations and support groups.
Single parenting is a challenge from day one but you will soon realise that it can be done, that you and your family will be ok and that in some cases that you’re are even better off.