It’s no secret that being a single parent is difficult. You juggle roles as both mom and dad, coach and cheerleader, tutor, chef, plumber, chauffeur, housekeeper, referee, storyteller, and if you’re lucky, you’re the last one to tuck the kids in at night and the first one they see in the morning.
But gearing up for back-to-school as a single parent? That’s kryptonite for even the toughest superheroes. There are lunches to pack, forms to signs, carpools to drive, new routines, new uniforms, new schedules . . . I’m feeling the need to breathe into a paper bag as I type these words.
Adjusting to back-to-school is exciting and difficult for everyone, yet for single parents there is an added element of stress. Why? Because they do it all alone, without the support of a spouse. So listen up, single parents. Here are some tips to help you survive the back-to-school transition this year:
1. Communicate your expectations. Let the kids know what you expect from them this year: their morning, after-school, and evening routines. Talk about their grades and decide together what you think are acceptable and achievable goals. Discuss activities they would like to pursue. Although it may seem counterintuitive, children crave rules, boundaries, and expectations. The sooner you can outline your expectations for them, the more smoothly your school year will go.
I had much to write to you,
but I would rather not write with pen and ink.
I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
– 3 John 1:13-14, ESV
2. Create a schedule. This is especially important if your child stays home alone after school or stays with a caregiver. Create a schedule and post it someplace where the entire family sees it. Children crave predictability and security, and posting a weekly or monthly schedule provides the child with the comfort they need on a daily basis.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens
– Ecc 3:1, NIV
3. Ask for help. This is difficult for single parents who are often use to doing everything on their own. Single parents fear burdening other people, when in reality, most people are more than happy to help drive your child to baseball or invite your daughter to play for a few hours.
If you still feel guilty, maybe you can repay the favor on the weekend when you are more available. It’s important to remember that even families with two parents need help from time to time as they shuttle multiple children to different activities all over town. It truly takes a village, and we are all in this parenting journey together.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
– Psalm 34:17, NIV