@taokat, who is a forum member and active Parent Peer Supporter, has been a single mum to her 15-year-old daughter since soon after she was born. We’ve asked her to share her top 5 tips based on what she’s learnt over the years.
Her favourite thing about her relationship with her teen is that, as the only parent, she’s automatically the favourite parent! She loves being able to make her own decisions and to do what she thinks is best for her daughter. Sometimes, it’s a double-edged sword, though, as all the responsibility is on her shoulders – being the most favourite means that she’s sometimes the least favourite, too!
Here are her top tips for being a single mum and hitting it out of the park.
1. Ask for help
'I turn to my mum or friends a fair bit. I also turn to my daughter’s counsellor for advice, or if I’m struggling with parenting. I find the ReachOut parents forum a great source of support and practical advice as well.’
Feeling a bit awkward? ‘‘I found that after the embarrassment and shame I had felt, there wasn't a single service I spoke to that told me I was a bad parent or should be doing better. It also made me realise that I'm not the only parent who’s struggling.’ ’
2. Make time to look after yourself
‘I do tai chi and I exercise at the gym. I make sure I talk with my best friend, who lives interstate, each week. I like to get my nails painted – a little bit of pampering that doesn’t break the budget!'
Find it tricky? ‘I set up a timetable to give me blocks of time during the day where I am “unavailable” for her – unless it’s an emergency, of course.'
Read a bit about why self-care is important not only for yourself, but for your family.
3. Look at parenting courses available in your area
'I've found them really educational and empowering.'
Check out ReachOut Parents One-on-One Support for free professional support to help you support your teenager.
4. Write your schedule down somewhere
‘I use a diary to keep track of everything we have going on. For me, if it’s not in the diary, it doesn’t happen!'
5. Budget regularly and carefully
‘I work out all my expenses and how much I need to set aside each week so that when bills are due, the money is there to pay them. I opened a separate account to pay my bill money into, and any automatic payments come out of that account. With gas and electricity, I pay the budgeted amount directly to the provider each week, and I love receiving a bill that says I’m in credit!’
Want to chat to @taokat and other parents in our forums? Why not head here and get started!