How to manage a social life when you’re a single parent?
Life as a single parent can be challenging. Between your work and home responsibilities, you have a range of tasks to juggle that’s difficult enough for two parents to manage, and you’re shouldering them solo. As a result, it’s certainly not unusual to find that you don’t have a thriving social life.
Part of the issue here is that society too often sends the message that this is simply the reality of parenthood. This is both an inaccurate and unhealthy position to take. Not only is a robust social life as a single parent achievable, but it’s also in the best interests of both you and your children.
Let’s take a closer look at managing a social life while being a single parent. What should you consider and how can you make it work?
Recognize the importance of a social life
One of the most important components of managing your social life is to first accept how vital it is. You likely know already how easy it is for single parents to push their own needs aside. While this is commonly seen as prioritizing your children, over time, neglecting your social needs can be detrimental to both you and your kids. By understanding the importance of socialization, you may find it easier to incentivize your ongoing efforts.
To begin with, a support network is a vital part of stress management. As a single parent, you experience stress, pressure, and anxiety from a range of sources on a daily basis. Spending time with others, particularly while doing activities you enjoy, bolsters your mental wellness. This can help you be more resilient to the impact of stress which, in turn, creates a better experience for you and your kids.
Cultivating a variety of healthy relationships is also key to maximizing the positive impact socialization can have on your life. Romantic and platonic relationships can bolster your emotional well-being but also serve different needs in your life that your children and family members cannot. Your community relationships act as a key support network while also boosting your sense of local connectivity. By making time to mindfully build a range of social relationships, you’ll often find your life is fuller and more enriched.
Review your resources
It’s all very well understanding the importance of social life. However, for many single parents, the challenges are more practical in nature. Establishing where and how you can squeeze in social activities is difficult. One potential solution is to review and reallocate the resources that empower you to maintain your social life.
Perhaps the most important resource in this regard is time. Your general impression of your schedule can make it feel as though you don’t have time for socializing. However, upon closer examination, you could be surprised by what you have available. Make a formal list of all the essential activities you perform each day, from your work to your kids’ sports to household chores. This can help you establish exactly what periods of time you have available.
Money, of course, is another key resource when it comes to managing your social life. Not all socializing is expensive, but some activities can require a little investment. To keep your household afloat, it’s crucial to consider the best ways to manage your money as a single parent. This could involve creating a full list of expenses, and identifying both those that are mandatory and those that aren’t. See what flexibility you have with your nonessential expenses and, if possible, put some of that money toward a budget for socializing.
With full visibility of your resources, you can take a structured approach to manage your social life. Build activities into your schedule as you would any other important part of your week. On days when you have minimal time or financial resources, even simple phone calls with friends or online catch-ups can make a significant and positive difference.
Managing your social life as a single parent isn’t just about making time for activities. It’s also about being protective of that time. There are always going to be convenient excuses to neglect your personal needs. However, for you and your kids to get the most benefit from your socialization, you need to commit to set clear boundaries that enshrine it as a core part of your life, just like work or family time.
One of the common places of focus here achieving the right balance between your work and personal life. You need to make certain your employment doesn’t unnecessarily encroach into your personal time. Wherever possible, collaborate with your employer on setting primary working hours and avoid going beyond these too frequently. Make it clear to your employer that you don’t take work calls or emails after hours. That way, you can focus entirely on yourself during your social activities.
Another important area to set boundaries is with your children. While they’re an integral part of your life, they must also understand that there will be times you need space for yourself. Talk to them about this and help them to understand why you’re setting boundaries (doing so can also help them learn how to set their own boundaries, too!). Establish reasons it’s acceptable to interrupt your social time and also circumstances in which they can feel included during it. Being honest and open here helps to strengthen the sense of mutual respect between you and your children.
Maintaining a social life as a single parent is a challenging task. It’s worth gaining a clear understanding of why socialization is important, as this can help you keep it a priority in your life. From a practical standpoint, reviewing your time and financial resources can help make the process more manageable. Wherever possible, set clear boundaries that protect your social time. By making consistent efforts to socialize, it’ll become continually easier for you to do so.