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.

Spend quality time together

Our favourite tradition is a homemade advent calendar. I make a new one each year and include activities we can do together such as crafts, ice skating, having a proper hot chocolate with all the trimmings, seeing the local Christmas lights or eating dessert before dinner!

Mum

Read Gingerbread's advice for Christmas

Helping my son trust men

My son finds it really difficult to connect with men. He always feels like they’re going to abandon him. I’ve done my best to support him however he needs. We watch films like Star Wars together and I play football with him – me and all the other dads! On Fathers’ Day we always make a card and it’s for whoever he wants it to be for – one year it was a teacher at his school, another it was our neighbour. I just try to help him understand that what he feels is justified and it’s fine to be angry sometimes.

Mum, 3 children

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Let some things go

You may be strict on sugar and TV but they may not, which can create a very wobbly line for a child that is growing up and starting to push the boundaries. I have tried involving my ex-husband in conversations but it always ends in a disagreement or fight, so I have had to just accept and embrace that this is what happens in mummy’s house, and that is what happens in daddy’s house. Yes this is insanely frustrating, but honestly my advice would be to let it go. As long as your child/children are happy, being spoilt a few days a week isn’t the end of the world as long as they know the rules and boundaries in your house.

Mum, 1 child

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Ask school to keep an eye on the kids

After we told them about splitting up, the kids were just constantly upset. My 5 year old was crying nonstop and not coping at school. The school staff are really kind so I straight away went and told the teachers. Everyone’s keeping an eye on the girls and they’ve been amazing.

Mum, 3 children aged 1, 5 and 10

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Your kids will still thrive

Don't feel you need to rush into a new relationship trying to fill the gap. Children thrive just as well, if not better, with one amazing, attentive parent.

Single mum

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Try to put your feelings aside

I try to be as calm as possible, talking to my ex about contact with my daughter. I have even invited him to her birthday. It’s going to be a really difficult period having him there but at the same time she wants him there, so you have kind of got to do the right thing by your child.

Mum, 1 child aged 3

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Try not to influence your kids' views of your ex

Try not to call your ex-partner names in front of your children. Tell them the best parts whenever possible and leave it up to the child to decide if the other parent is worth it.

Single mum

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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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Focus on what you can control

I've learnt to accept that I can't control anyone else's behaviour and I focus purely on doing a good job when my little boy is with me.

Mum, 1 child

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Ending it might be the best thing you do

The relationship I was in with my children’s father wasn’t good, he was emotionally abusive. It took me a long time to get over things once I’d made the decision to end it with him. Even when it’s really bad, you still want to make it work for the kids. Looking back now, I realise that ending it was the best thing I ever did.

Mum, 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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However hard, tell the truth

The only advice I would give any parent is, however hard it is, tell your children the truth.

Mum, 1 child aged 7

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Focus on your kids

Focus on your children - they will not always be as dependent as they are now, and you will kick yourself when you realise you wasted time and energy on a relationship that didn't warrant it. Relationships can all too sadly come and go, but your kids are your kids for life. Show them you are there for them, no matter what.

Single mum

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