People can give you support in three main ways:
- practical help to lighten the workload
- emotional support to help you cope with parenting
- social support to give you a break.
Most parents – whether single parents or couples – need all three forms of support, and that’s normal.
Asking for help – and saying yes when it’s offered – can be hard sometimes. You might feel like you should be able to cope on your own. You might also worry that you’re being a nuisance. But many people like to help out, and they’ll be glad if you ask them to do something specific. And if you’re prepared to help them out in return, you don’t need to feel uncomfortable.
If you’re finding it hard to think of people who might be able to help, you could try these ideas:
- Friends: support from friends can sometimes be less complicated and emotional than support from family.
- Local people: you could try people from your child care centre, kindergarten or school, a local club, religious group or support group.
- Colleagues at work or people you meet studying or training: they can take your mind off parenting for a while and might also be able to help out sometimes.
- Counsellors or other professionals: they can offer help and neutral advice without any emotional involvement.
- Telephone hotlines or online counselling: this might be good if you need to spend a lot of time at home or just need someone to listen once in a while.
Without the respite, I would not have been as calm a caregiver as I have managed to be. Isolation and young children is a bad mix for me. I went to a support group and we took turns minding each other’s kids.
– Marnie, 30, single mother of two children
Here are some ways and places you can find support as a single parent.
Connections and services in your community
Local papers, councils and libraries often have information about neighbourhood houses, playgroups and toy libraries. Child and family health nurses can also be a valuable source of support and advice.
Children are a ticket to making new friends at first-time parent groups, playgroups, kindergartens, schools, or sporting and leisure centres. Try inviting other families to have afternoon tea or playdates or just to go for a walk. When you talk to other parents, you might be surprised at the family challenges and changes they’ve been through themselves.
Local support and interest groups
Support groups for single parents can be especially helpful for sharing ideas, feelings and experiences with other people in the same situation as you. You can also join book clubs, craft or sporting clubs, charity organisations, religious groups or political groups.
Online forums and social media
Going online can help you connect with other parents from Uganda and around the world. Many single-parent groups have forums or Facebook pages or groups. Just remember to protect your personal information when you go online.