Question: How can a single busy, professional parent raising two special daughters find more time to socialize and meet that special someone?
Juggling adult needs and the needs of children is always a challenge for busy parents – but it is definitely a necessity. It can be difficult to choose between spending the little free time you have with your daughters and taking time for yourself. As a single parent, you may try to be there “all the time”. That isn’t very realistic. Parenting is teamwork – even for single parents. You may need to find a reliable babysitter or plan sleep-overs for your daughters at a friend’s house (depending on the age of your daughters). Build a support network for yourself. If you don’t have family nearby, start talking to the parents of your daughter’s friends about their resources. You can even organize a babysitting exchange – alternate with another parent every other Saturday night. Time for yourself needs to be a nonnegotiable part of your weekly schedule.
Ease your guilt by giving your daughters your fullest attention during daily routines: mealtimes, bath times, bedtimes, homework times, and even car time. Be sensitive to their individual needs and plan regular one-on-one time with each daughter. Then you can, in good conscience, set aside some time for yourself. Friday night for a speaker at the local bookstore or Saturday morning at the gym. Follow your interests! They will lead you to others who also share your interests. The first step to meeting someone is getting out there. That special person might be right there in your neighborhood grocery store! Change your routine – try lunches in the park or make it a point to talk to one new person every day.
Keep in mind that it isn’t selfish to nurture your adult relationships. Your daughters will learn a great deal about relationships by watching your example. It’s time to let them see you taking care of yourself as well as taking care of them.
Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.