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Top tips from single parents

We've collected practical tips from the experts, single parents themselves, to give you advice and ideas. Filter by topic or find out more by following the links.

Asking for help is hard but important

I talk to my son's teacher and my mum, being frank about not being able to cope. Admitting I need help has been a massive thing for me to learn. It’s a gradual thing, being able to ask for support. But things are a lot easier now.

Mum, 1 child aged 9

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Remember stigma can be self-imposed

One thing I’ve learned, I went to work full time thinking people were looking at me - 'single parent on benefits'. I pushed myself to work full time and pay my way. Actually no one cares what I do, the only stigma was what I put on myself. I could have saved myself some stress.

Mum, 1 child aged 9

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Try syncing your free weekend with other single parents

At the weekends they’re with their dad. Then it’s for me to find things to do. That’s where the single mums at school have come in handy. They have their weekends synced so that they have their time off from the kids together. It means when you haven’t got the kids, you’ve got someone to ring and ask to do something together.

Mum, 3 children aged 1, 5 and 10

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Speak to someone not involved if you can

I chose to have counselling. I just knew I needed to speak to someone who was away from my situation, wasn’t involved emotionally or personally with what’s happened and to have someone to speak to. Once it’s out your head, you’re not mulling it over.

Mum, 2 children aged 7 and 4

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Write down how you're feeling

Writing down how you're feeling really helps. I write it on a piece of paper and screw it up. It feels like you’ve spoken to someone and not been judged. You’ve thought about it.

Mum, 1 child aged 4

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Going along to parent groups can help

I feel like there’s a lot of things I realised afterwards that I didn’t know about, like the parent groups that I’m attending. I was a bit isolated, so if I found out about the parent groups earlier, it would have been better. I would have probably healed quicker.

Mum, 1 child aged 18 months

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Try to chat to other single parents

I felt better about everything when I started meeting other single parents; started talking to others in the same situation.

Mum, 2 children aged 9 and 13

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Make a list - include what you'll do for you

I would make a list, just to tick off so you feel like you’re achieving something and making progress. I think it should be a mixture of things: what I need to do tomorrow or today, and include what you’re going to do for yourself like read a book for half an hour - it’s good to include those things. It’s a visual tool to see progression, that you’re doing something.

Mum, 2 children aged 13 and 20

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Focus on the positives

I used to keep something called a blessings jar. Every time something good happened - the smallest thing like your kid saying ‘I love you’. At the end of the year or whenever, you take them out and see the positives not the negatives. In the situation, all you can see is negative. Trying to focus on positives is really important.

Mum, 2 children aged 4 and 7

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Give yourself time

Take time to grieve. You will go through so many emotions at the strangest of times. Let them come.

Single mum

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Remember you're not alone

It happens, it's normal and it's ok to feel and be who you are. You are not alone and do ask for help and support if you need it. There are lone parent support groups available, where just sharing your experiences makes your load lighter. Remember with every end there is a new beginning. We are all here.

Single mum

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Try not to put pressure on yourself

If I can get up in the morning and get the kids to school, myself to work, and pick the kids up from school, then I feel like I’ve achieved in the day. It’s about small achievements - don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make everything ok because you can’t. You’re only one person.

Mum, 2 children aged 4 and 7

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Remember, everyone needs help

It's ok to accept help. Everyone needs help in different ways, money or you need a break, school run, a bit of a system, talking to someone.

Mum, 1 child aged 4

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Don't feel bad arranging 'me time'

Know when to ask for that extra bit of help if needed, maybe from a family member or friend. Everyone needs 'me time' now and then, so don’t feel bad for asking for that helping hand to give you a break.

Single mum

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Single parent groups and holidays are worth it

You might not know it, but there are lots of groups and holiday companies out there just for single parents. Some single parents I've met are so on it they have joined up before the baby is out of the womb. For me, it took a while before I had the energy and confidence to join any but they really are genuinely fab.

Mum, 1 child

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Try not to blame yourself

The last thing you should do is blame yourself, you’re in no control over how somebody else behaves.

Single dad

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It might help to explain your situation early on

“So what does your husband do?” When another mum asked me that out of the blue one day, it threw me and upset me. Now when I meet new people, I explain early on in the conversation that I am bringing up my daughter alone. Just to get it out the way.

Mum, 1 child

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Try to be brave

Since splitting with my husband, I’ve just got loads more confidence. I’ve joined lots of clubs and try to be brave and get out there. It can be really hard to make yourself go to a new group or activity for the first time as you don’t know what to expect, but I’ve ended up with loads of friends out of it.

Mum, 1 child

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Try to remember what you've got

My advice to other single parents is just to stay strong and try not to think about what you don’t have. I lost a lot when my husband and I split – both emotionally and financially. It’s a bit of a shock at first trying to get by on less. But I’d say, try not to let it get to you – look for the positives and remember what you do have.

Mum, 1 child

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Forums can be reassuring and supportive

I find reading the message boards where single parents support each other uplifting and reassuring. When I posted my story, another mum replied to say she’s been through something similar.

Mum, 3 children

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See this as a time of change

My words of advice? Each situation is different and carries its own problems... see this horrible time as one of change rather than utter disaster, new opportunities and adventure rather than darkness. Impossible? Maybe. But for the sake of the children you have to force yourself to see another dimension to the experience.

Dad, 2 children

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Put on your own oxygen mask first

If you compare unexpectedly becoming a single parent with being in an airplane disaster (the emotions and sensations can often be comparable), the life-saving instructions are always the same; “put your own oxygen mask on, before attending to those of your children.” Why? Because if you are not in a good, strong, resourceful position where your own essential needs are taken care of, you will not have the strength, energy or capacity to be there for your children in the way that they need you.

Mum, 4 children

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