Single parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. Yes, there are the obvious challenges that come from living on a single income—and the advantages of not having a full-time mini-me to watch (if you have shared custody), but there are so, so many other subtleties you’ve probably never even thought of. Here’s a shortened version of a potentially never ending list. .
1. You’re a handyman, spider-killer, snow shoveler, nurse and mechanic all rolled into one.
So, if there are bugs or creepy crawlies in the house? There's no covering them up with a glass or towel and waiting for someone else to finish the deed.. It's either pack and move, or deal with it yourself. Blizzard in the forecast? That means more shoveling for you, unless some neighbor takes pity on you. You also have to learn some basic plumbing…or pay to have someone come in the middle of the night when your toilet is clogged at 2 am . You also should know how to put some air in the tires and oil in your car so you don't have to give your mechanic your firstborn child—even if sometimes you might want to.
2. Those designer clothes become a luxury of the past.
Your co-workers may come in every few months with a beautiful new seasonal wardrobe, but unless you won the lotto, you’re likely only going to score that stunning Michael Kors bag six years down the road at Marshalls in some bizarre color no one liked. Even if you save up for something special, (aka when you set aside a couple dollars), your kid will inevitably need a new instrument, sports equipment or clothes. But hey, at least she looks cute.
3. You will rely on the kindness of strangers.
You consider yourself a strong, independent person. But there will come a day when you’re carrying a screaming toddler who refuses to be put down— along with your entire grocery haul, and you’re standing at your door trying to get your keys in the door without dropping the kid or the eggs. That nice neighbor walking by? Take her up on her offer to unlock your door for you. It will keep you from a mental breakdown.
4. Dating is way different.
That cute guy says he loves to travel in his online profile? Well, that may have been your type before single momdom, but once you've got kids, trying to tell a prospective new beau that you would love to travel, but it can only be on the first or third weekend of the month…or that it needs to be planned 18 months in advance and involve flying in grandparents. The "spontaneous" trips to the tropics are long gone, as singles don't usually want a toddler coming along on a beach vacay. That said, when your kid is with your former other half, you can indulge in short "R&R" breaks.
5. You'll live for the times your parents visit.
We all love grandparents. They spoil our kids rotten and they love it, but when you’re a single parent, you'll especially welcome their visits with open arms, knowing you can take a nice long nap for three days if you want to, and maybe even shower alone!
6. All topics are yours to address.
She will come to you with everything from the sex talk to death to bullying to questions about when she can shave their legs, etc… And the "wait until the other parent gets home and ask them" refrain doesn't work here. You’re on your own, no matter how much you blush, or cough or stare at the ceiling while answering them.
7. Your free time becomes when you do all the work.
People think that if you have shared custody you spend your time without your children, out having drinks with your friends. Maybe on occasion. But most of that time is spent cleaning your house from the little whirling dervishes that live with you.
8. Vacations are no longer as relaxing.
Think about a day at the beach with the kids as a family, where one partner can take the kids off into the surf while the other soaks up some rays. Yeah… no. You can't close your eyes at the beach for one minute. You need to constantly keep an eye on them, and if you have an only child, they'll want you to be their playmate all day long.
9. Gym/workout time is non-existent.
You see all those fitness bloggers who say they exercise at the crack of dawn while their partner is asleep? That's all well and good, but DYFS frowns upon leaving sleeping children alone in the house while you go run a 5K, so you have to find minutes while they are on playdates or at Hebrew school where you can squeeze in a workout… or a nap.
10. Despite it all, it's kind of the best thing ever.
Spending so much time just with them, even if you are tired and stressed out during some of it (hey, so are married parents), is also pretty great. You are a dynamic little team, and your kids will grow up respecting you for all the double duty that you did. Or at least we hope.