Single Parent FAQs: Wellbeing and Stress – Issue 24


Our advice and information team who work on our Lone Parent Helpline, webchat and Ask a Question feature, receive questions from single parents around Scotland every day.

Separation can be a difficult topic to discuss, and it is something we receive a lot of questions on.

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Take a look at the FAQ's

My wife and I have decided to separate. It’s been a long discussion. We are now needing to tell our children. Do you have any advice on speaking to them about it?

Christmas is a stressful time for most families. You need to remember that it is one day and nobody’s version of Christmas is the same as what we see on social media. It is important not to ruin a whole year for one day. It can be easy to take on debt at Christmas. If you feel you are getting into debt, we have advice on What to do if you’re in debt.

Have a look at things you can do to create memories for yourself and your children, as opposed to expensive gifts. Having a Christmas Eve movie night where your children can make posters and help make low-cost snacks. There are loads of Christmas crafts on the Good Housekeeping Website. Start Christmas traditions. Children will remember these more than any gifts they got.

When it comes to buying presents, look at reducing unnecessary presents. It is impossible to buy for everyone. Prioritise your children. Get them to make a list of things they would like from Santa but set their expectations. It is impossible for Santa to buy everything for all the boys and girls in the world!

I am finding life really stressful at the moment. It feels like pressure is everywhere. I don’t even know where to start…

Managing stress can be a challenge. This is where a self-care routine can be important. Self-care can be hard when you are a single parent. Life can be so hectic, and it can be hard to fit in time for you. But looking after your own wellbeing is important. It has been proven that having a good self-care routine shows children the importance of taking care of themselves.

Wellbeing is different for every person. Wellbeing is when you feel content calm and safe. Wellbeing requires a balance of health; physical, emotional, psychological, social, spiritual, intellectual, and financial. The key ingredient for this recipe is self-care.

Self-care is just the small things you do that make you feel better. This can be something as simple as a bubble bath and a facemask. Or something as big as booking a holiday somewhere nice. There is no right or wrong answer. For some parents, self-care is those moments when the kids are in bed and the house is silent! Start by trying to do one thing a week purely for yourself. Then build it into a routine.

I am starting to feel really down when I see my friends and family and the things they are posting on social media about their life. I feel like my life is on pause. I am struggling to move forward and just feel so stuck…can you give me any advice?

Accepting yourself and where you are in your life can be difficult. We spend a lot of time thinking about where we think we should be and using other people to measure our own success.

Social media can play a huge part in making us feel inadequate. Acceptance is a process. It starts with acknowledging where you are in life and appreciating that there could be room for change but that you are comfortable with your life at this moment in time. Make a list of all you have achieved in the last year. This can be a good way to help you see how far you’ve come.

It can also help to write down achievable goals. Would you like to return to education? Or do you have a hobby or interest you’d like to pursue?  Or even start to put your self-care routine into practice. Remember, social media isn’t a true reflection of life.

Listening to other people's exciting plans over Christmas makes me feel really down, as I don't have contact with my family. It’s just me and my son. How can I make Christmas seem better for us?

If Christmas is a difficult time for you, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people find Christmas isolating. There are things you can do to try:

  • Put it in context – The pressure around a ‘magical Christmas’ is immense. But how much of that is from the media? Christmas is one day, and it is a day where you can make it how you want. Spending time with your son and creating your own version of Christmas will be something he remembers forever. Ask your son what he would like to do for Christmas. You might find his idea of a ‘magical Christmas’ is very different to what you think he expects.
  • Unplug – This can be difficult but take a break from social media. If you find that it makes you feel worse about Christmas, then take a break.
  • Be kind to yourself – There is nothing wrong with having a quiet, cosy Christmas with your son. In fact, there will probably be many people on Christmas day, stressed entertaining relatives who would love to have a quiet Christmas. Having a small family doesn’t make Christmas any less magical. In fact, it can be even more special and something your son will treasure forever.

Schools are required to keep parents informed about how their children are doing and to do what they can to help parents who don’t live with their children to be involved with their child’s education. As part of this, schools should provide relevant information and reports to parents who don’t live with their children unless there is a specific legal order preventing them from doing so.

Finally, schools are always happy to have parent volunteers with things like school discos, trips, and sports days. You could sign up to help at a school events?  Or become part of the Parent Council? These are just some ways you can be involved in your child school life and be there for them during those times and it will help them to feel secure and help you to feel involved.

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