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Emotional support and wellbeing – don’t forget about you

When you are a full time single parent, you can feel that you are so busy with doing everything that needs to be done, and making sure that your children are ok, that there is just no time left over to think about yourself and what you need

Self-care though is important for all parents. If you want to be able to look after your children, you need to make sure that you have the resources to do that, and that means looking after yourself first. If you become exhausted, stressed, depleted, then you will not be able to care for them in the way that you may wish or hope to.

Just because you are a father/man does not mean that you have to ‘tough it out’, not need any down time, or find it beneficial to talk to someone. In fact, when you are a full time single dad, some of these things might be really important!

Here are our top tips for you looking after you:

1.            Talk to family and friends.

Being able to talk about how you are feeling to people that know you is really important, so that you don’t feel you are carrying lots of pent up feelings which could cause other difficulties. Remember that there are some things it is not appropriate for you to talk about with your children, but you may feel the need to get them off your chest – this is what friends and family are for.

If you would rather avoid certain topics of conversation, just let them know in advance, so you can still all get together and enjoy each other’s company.

2.            Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and all parents will need to ask someone else for help at some point. If someone does offer help, take them up on it! If you find that friends and family don’t offer much help, remember that this can just sometimes be because they don’t want you to feel that you are not coping or they are interfering, but they will still be willing to help out with something if you ask them.

3.            Make sure you are eating properly

If you get physically worn out through not eating properly, not only will you have less energy to do all the things you need to do, you will also find that your mood starts being affected too. When you can, make proper nutritious meals that you eat with your children (as no one likes cooking just for themselves) to make sure that you are all getting a good balanced diet, as well as spending some quality time at mealtimes together.

4.            Have some time off

It can be overwhelming to be the responsible adult all the time, and it will relieve some of the pressure which comes with that to have some time off from time to time. Whether it is popping to your local for a beer, going for a cycle ride, or watching your favourite TV programme without interruption, make time for when you get your relaxation time.

5.            Exercise

Exercise is a well-known natural mood lifter, and it can also give an outlet for any feelings of frustration or anger which you could also be dealing with as part of your situation. If you cannot get out on your own to go to the gym or for a run, etc, then make exercise a family activity – taking the children out for bike rides, or going for walks, or swimming. Exercise is beneficial for all the family, so just find ways you can all benefit from it, even if they need a little creativity!

6.            Know when you need some extra support, and get it!

Sometimes you might feel you need some extra support than your friends or family can give, or you may just want to talk to someone who is not part of that group, so you can say things which you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to them.

Whether it is a counsellor, a mentor, a listener or a new friend, there are organisations and places where you can get some outside support. If you are dealing with some strong feelings, you might find talking to others helps you come to terms with them and manage them much more quickly.

You may also find talking to other single dad in the Dad Info Forum also helpful

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