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Health & Parenting

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Top 6 Tips for Single Parents

By Jen Uscher
WebMD Feature

When you're raising a child as a single parent, you're handling a lot of tasks and decisions on your own. You need effective ways to find support and make life easier and more fun for you and your child.

Start with these six tips.

1. Develop a Routine.

Keep mealtimes, bedtimes, and the time the family wakes up in the morning fairly consistent. A predictable routine structures your day and helps give your child a sense of security.

You may miss your kids during the workday and feel guilty that your job requires you to spend so much time away from them. But don't make up for it at night.

"Trying to squeeze in more time together by letting them stay up late is not the best approach," says Leah Klungness, PhD, a psychologist in Long Island, N.Y., and coauthor of The Complete Single Mother.

"Kids need more sleep than we schedule into our jam-packed lives," she says. "Also, parents need and deserve some kid-free time to get things accomplished and decompress a bit."

2. Make Time to Play.

No matter how busy life gets, devote time on a regular basis to relaxing and having fun with your kids. Focus your attention on enjoying each other's company and tune out other distractions.

"I often recommend to families that they schedule a play time -- perhaps once a week -- when they turn off the television and phone and spend a half hour playing a game, taking a walk, or throwing a ball around," says Barry G. Ginsberg, PhD, a child and family psychologist in Doylestown, Pa., and author of 50 Wonderful Ways to Be a Single-Parent Family. "It helps reinforce your emotional connection."

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