Being a single dad is hard. Providing for, bonding with, and taking care of your children can feel overwhelming at the best of times. If you’re a single dad, here are some simple-yet-effective ways that you can look out for your kids as you guide them through life.
1. Equip Your Kids with the Right Tech
Your kids are digital natives. They were born into an era dominated by tech. They’re comfortable with everything electronic, from tablets to televisions, cellphones, and even smart cars. There’s some sense in holding off on equipping your kids with their own version of the latest tech. At a certain point, though, you’re going to have to start getting them set up and ready to manage their own devices.
Smartphones are particularly concerning in this area. The average age to get a smartphone is low. The problem here isn’t the phones themselves, but what they give your child access to. Phones provide a myriad of different applications — not to mention full internet access.
If you want to solve the cellphone problem quickly and easily, consider buying a kids phone. Some smartphones are designed for younger users. They remove potentially hazardous items like internet browsing and social media. Instead, the focus rests on things like making phone calls, listening to music, maintaining a calendar, and taking pictures. By getting a kid-friendly phone, you give your child an opportunity to start learning how to use tech without exposing them to the dangers of full smartphone access.
2. Budget with Your Kids
Money management can be challenging, especially as a parent. You have to bring home a paycheck, pay the bills, and you know, buy groceries and stuff.
As a single dad, though, you have the added responsibility of teaching your kids financial literacy. This knowledge is essential if they’re going to survive and thrive on their own one day. This can feel daunting, but there are actually a couple of easy shortcuts that you can take to lighten the load.
First, invite your kids to help you with the budget. You don’t have to get detailed about the state of your finances. Still, as your kids get older, consider having them by your side as you make mobile deposits, balance checkbooks, and pay bills. This provides a safe real-life scenario where they can learn about money. Even better, you’re still getting your own financial chores done at the same time.
If you have teenagers, you can up the ante by getting them set up with a good kid-focused financial app. Some apps help with temporary events, like budgeting for a prom. Others allow you to monitor your teenager’s spending.
If you do use financial apps, watch out for the “watching over the shoulder” feeling that they can create. In other words, don’t just call your kids out when something’s wrong. Use the tool to talk through their financial decisions and help them establish quality spending habits.
3. Identify Who You Can Trust to Help
Budgeting and tech are practical aspects of parenting. However, your responsibilities go beyond giving your kids basic life skills. You also want to provide them with a safe and nurturing environment as they develop their minds and emotions.
This is another task that can feel a bit overwhelming. After all, you can’t take your kids by the hand with everything that they do. That’s hard enough for co-parents. When you’re on your own, it feels like there’s that much less time in each day to spend with your kids.
An easy way to address this concern is to put some serious thought into who you’re including in your kids’ lives. What individuals do you consider part of your support network? Do your parents help with babysitting? Does your friend watch the kids while you run to the store? Are your children in daycare or school while you’re at work?
Consider each link in your support system and ask yourself if and how it’s helping to create a healthy environment for your kids. By refining the network of individuals that surround your family, you create an invested group of quality individuals that will consistently be able to influence your children’s lives. And the best part is, once your ideal network is in place, it requires minimal time to maintain.
4. Actually Find Some Work-Life Balance
As the leader of your family, one of the easiest ways for you to look out for your kids is to simply be there for them. This includes finding a balance between your family and your work.
As a single dad, you have to remember that you are the number one influence in your kids’ lives. Putting in face time with your offspring is one of the most impactful ways to come through for them. You need to be there to answer questions and support them as they learn and grow. It’s a simple concept, but it’s a critical factor all the same.
As a dad, one of the best ways you can quickly and consistently do this is by maintaining a healthy work-life balance. And with parents feeling stressed six times a day about everything from bathtime to screen time, the balance is key.
This doesn’t mean you need to undervalue your job or ignore your responsibilities. You just need to prioritize your kids along with everything else. Make it clear to your employer and coworkers that you have kids and they matter to you. Express a similar sentiment to your kids themselves. This expression of understanding your familial priorities creates a sense of predictability and confidence in your family life. It’s a loving, comforting influence for your kids that you can’t reproduce anywhere else.
There are few things that feel better than coming through for your kids. As a single parent with so much on your plate, it’s nice to find easy ways to do so. From finances and smartphones to work-life balance and a solid support network, there are plenty of natural ways that you can show your kids that you care.
So take stock of your current situation. Look for the places where you can come through for your kids in real ways that require minimal effort. Given time, they’ll be thankful that you tried.