Ideas for Single Dads

Whether or not you cut up custody 50-50 along with your ex, dad or mum your children solo full time, or have another sort of association, being a single dad isn’t simple. However you do your greatest to juggle all of it your self. That may appear cute or humorous in motion pictures and sitcoms, however in actual life, there’s actual battle, actual guilt, and actual challenges that don’t wrap up neatly in half an hour.

4 single dads who’ve been navigating the solo parenting world for just a few years now share just a few of their high ideas for taking good care of your children and your individual sanity.

Plan Forward and Be Constant

“I used to despise planning and routine and often simply went on a whim,” says Ryan Lambourn, a gross sales consultant in Tempe, AZ, who has shared custody of his sons, 9 and seven, along with his ex-wife since they divorced in 2017. “However once you’re a single dad, you’ll simply find yourself digging your self in an enormous gap that manner. My older son is autistic, and youngsters with autism thrive with construction and a schedule. However in actuality, these are issues that basically assist all children thrive.”

Lambourn makes essentially the most of his time on days when his spouse has the children, specializing in housecleaning and primary dwelling maintenance, grocery shopping, and meal planning and preparation. “I’ve actually put my consideration on ensuring that issues are constant: We go to the park on the identical day, now we have dinner prepared on the identical time, as a substitute of every thing being haphazard.”

In case your children cut up time between households, do your greatest to work with their different dad or mum to have comparable guidelines and routines for them. “Particularly when our youngsters had been youthful, we had been actually on the lookout for continuity,” says San Francisco musician Michael Powell, who was divorced in 2012, when his son and daughter had been toddlers.

“We did our greatest to implement comparable bedtimes, guidelines about TV and sweets, and an identical strategy to self-discipline. That’s not at all times solely attainable as a result of there are various things that occur in several homes, however we do our greatest.”


When affiliation communications director Todd Bentsen and his ex-partner separated in 2011, their son was 7 and their daughter was 4. For the primary 4 years, the couple did a “nesting” association utilizing the basement condo of their Washington, DC, row home, which they’d beforehand rented out.

“The youngsters didn’t should trip between two homes. We simply switched off which considered one of us was residing within the condo,” Bentsen says. “I believe we each would agree that the continuity was actually useful to them on the ages they had been after we separated.”

Belief Your Instincts

Pat Attenasio, a model communications specialist who lives in northern California, misplaced his spouse to a pulmonary embolism when their son Teddy was born in 2017.

“After we had been anticipating our son, my plan was type of to draft off my spouse and determine it out as we went alongside, however then I needed to do all of it,” he says. “At first, individuals handled me like I didn’t know something, which, to be honest, I didn’t. However on the finish of the day, I’m Teddy’s solely dad or mum, and after 4 years, I do know him and his nuances higher than some other human being. At first, although, I didn’t belief my instincts and at all times deferred to different individuals’s opinions. I’ve realized I must be assured sufficient in myself as a father, and that rubs off on my son too.”

Talk Clearly

Once you’re speaking with an ex-partner about your children’ schedules, wants, or future plans, it’s essential to be simple. “Say precisely what you need, irrespective of how robust the dialog is,” Lambourn says. “Don’t beat across the bush or attempt to indicate or say one thing not directly. For issues you must make certain are heard and understood precisely, ship an e-mail or a textual content, or use one thing like Fb Messenger, the place you could have a notification that the particular person checked out it.”

Placing issues in writing is essential when there’s a change to the same old routine. “For instance, often my ex would choose up the children at 5 p.m. on Sundays, however we’ve not too long ago made a change in order that she now picks them up at 2 p.m.,” Lambourn says. “So for the final couple of weeks, whereas it’s nonetheless a brand new schedule, I’ve been sending her a message on Saturday afternoon simply to remind her what pickup time is properly forward of time, slightly than midday on Sunday.”

“Co-parenting efficiently is concerning the particulars,” Bentsen agrees. “You need to just remember to get these particulars proper, and that you just talk overtly and commonly about what’s going on that impacts the children’ lives.”


Construct a Assist Community

Trusting your individual instincts doesn’t imply you are able to do all of it by yourself. When Attenasio’s spouse died, his spouse’s mom and twin sister urged he and Teddy transfer from New York Metropolis to California. “My sister-in-law has two children of her personal and she or he helped educate me the ropes. She and my mother-in-law actually grew to become my village once I had no clue what I used to be doing,” he says. “And I grew to become the king of outsourcing. I’ve realized that if there’s one thing I don’t know the best way to do, I’ll rent or ask somebody to assist me with no matter it’s.”

Shortly after Powell and his spouse divorced, an in depth pal of his had additionally cut up along with his girlfriend and was on the lookout for a spot to dwell, so he grew to become a brief housemate. “He by no means actually did the heavy lifting factor with the children, however a minimum of there was one other particular person there if I wanted to go away for a short while,” Powell says. “If I had a night gig, I’d get them prepared for mattress earlier than I left after which he’d watch cartoons with them and put them to mattress. That was actually useful. He was like an uncle to the children.”

In most relationships, there’s a extra “social” associate who maintains the household community and makes plans. In the event you weren’t that particular person, you might have to stretch your self to get the assist you want. “In our partnership, that was me,” Bentsen says. “We had a tight-knit group of pals we known as our ‘e book membership,’ and our youngsters are very shut with their children. They’ve been an actual community for me to name on. My ex wasn’t actually wired that manner, so he’s needed to be taught a brand new ability. It’s actually useful to you and the children for assist and continuity.”

If attainable, that assist community ought to embrace your ex. When a significant life occasion, just like the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, throws every thing into disarray, it’s essential to work collectively to maintain issues regular on your youngsters.


Each Bentsen and Powell had been identified with the virus. Though he was by no means hospitalized, Powell was severely in poor health for six weeks, and the children had to stick with their mom for all the time. “It was scary for them, however she was good about reassuring them and setting issues up so we might watch motion pictures on Netflix Get together simply so I may very well be ‘with’ them,” he says.

Bentsen’s ex-partner additionally took over full-time parenting through the weeks he was sick. “I’m fortunate that my children have a dad or mum who’s versatile and keen to pitch in and have them for further weeks,” he says.

Keep away from the “Dad” Stereotype

“Once you’re a single dad, you need to evolve into this kind of hybrid dad and mother. The important thing to that for me has been permitting myself to be actually susceptible with my child. I’ve to let my guard down and be this emotional assist to my son,” Attenasio says.

“The dad stereotype is the one who does the nuts and bolts — the consuming, the cleansing, the day-to-day stuff. You are able to do simply nothing however that. However I’ve realized that on these days the place I’m speeding to get him to day care and I’ve received a piece name and I’m enthusiastic about checking containers, and I have a look at him and see there’s one thing troubling him, I’ve to cease and throw the schedule out and say, ‘What’s in your thoughts? What’s bothering you immediately?’ And he often tells me. You may’t at all times be about checking containers.”

Take Care of Your self

Whether or not you’ve simply divorced or separated, otherwise you’ve misplaced a associate to loss of life, your intuition as a single dad could also be to only push by. However that’s not good for both you or your youngsters.

“In our lives, my ex-wife and I’ve each struggled with addiction,” Lambourn says. “After we cut up, I used to be instantly all concerning the children, ensuring they had been taken care of. However because the analogy goes, should you don’t put the oxygen masks on your self first, you’re not going to have the ability to maintain anybody else. I wasn’t doing that, and it took its toll within the type of depression and different issues. I needed to actually focus alone psychological, bodily, and religious restoration if I used to be going to be an excellent father.”

After the loss of life of his spouse, Attenasio felt like he needed to put his head down and barrel by every thing. “However I noticed shortly that that wasn’t working, and began going to therapy to course of not solely the lack of my spouse however the lack of the longer term we had been by no means going to have. It doesn’t matter what you’re going by or the way you grew to become a single dad, there are professionals in addition to free assist teams that may make it easier to get by that course of. The inclination is to overlook about your self and be every thing to your youngster, however should you’re going to be the most effective dad or mum you might be, you need to get your head on straight and everybody wants assist to try this.”

WebMD Characteristic



Ryan Lambourn, Tempe, AZ.

Michael Powell, San Francisco, CA.

Todd Bentsen, Washington, DC.

Pat Attenasio, San Carlos, CA.

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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