Ideas for Single Dads


Whether or not you break up custody 50-50 together with your ex, father or mother your youngsters 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 films and sitcoms, however in actual life, there’s actual wrestle, 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 prime ideas for taking good care of your youngsters and your personal 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, together with his ex-wife since they divorced in 2017. “However whenever you’re a single dad, you’ll simply find yourself digging your self in a giant 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 actually assist all youngsters thrive.”

Lambourn makes essentially the most of his time on days when his spouse has the youngsters, specializing in housecleaning and primary residence repairs, 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 similar time, as a substitute of every thing being haphazard.”

In case your youngsters break up time between households, do your greatest to work with their different father or mother to have related guidelines and routines for them. “Particularly when our youngsters had been youthful, we had been actually searching 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 related bedtimes, guidelines about TV and sweets, and an identical method to self-discipline. That’s not all the time completely 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 residence of their Washington, DC, row home, which that they had beforehand rented out.

“The children didn’t need to commute between two homes. We simply switched off which one in every of us was residing within the residence,” Bentsen says. “I feel we each would agree that the continuity was actually useful to them on the ages they had been once 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.

“Once we had been anticipating our son, my plan was sort 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. “To start with, individuals handled me like I didn’t know something, which, to be truthful, I didn’t. However on the finish of the day, I’m Teddy’s solely father or mother, and after 4 years, I do know him and his nuances higher than some other human being. To start with, although, I didn’t belief my instincts and all the time deferred to different individuals’s opinions. I’ve realized I have to be assured sufficient in myself as a father, and that rubs off on my son too.”

Talk Clearly

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

Placing issues in writing is essential when there’s a change to the standard routine. “For instance, often my ex would decide up the youngsters 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, quite than midday on Sunday.”

“Co-parenting efficiently is concerning the particulars,” Bentsen agrees. “It’s important to just be sure you get these particulars proper, and that you simply talk overtly and recurrently about what’s going on that impacts the youngsters’ lives.”


Construct a Help Community

Trusting your personal 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 instructed he and Teddy transfer from New York Metropolis to California. “My sister-in-law has two youngsters of her personal and she or he helped educate me the ropes. She and my mother-in-law actually turned my village after I had no clue what I used to be doing,” he says. “And I turned the king of outsourcing. I’ve realized that if there’s one thing I don’t know how you can do, I’ll rent or ask somebody to assist me with no matter it’s.”

Shortly after Powell and his spouse divorced, a detailed pal of his had additionally break up together with his girlfriend and was searching for a spot to reside, so he turned a short lived housemate. “He by no means actually did the heavy lifting factor with the youngsters, however not less than 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 youngsters.”

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

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


Each Bentsen and Powell had been recognized with the virus. Though he was by no means hospitalized, Powell was severely in poor health for six weeks, and the youngsters 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 films on Netflix Get together simply so I could possibly be ‘with’ them,” he says.

Bentsen’s ex-partner additionally took over full-time parenting in the course of the weeks he was sick. “I’m fortunate that my youngsters have a father or mother who’s versatile and keen to pitch in and have them for additional weeks,” he says.

Keep away from the “Dad” Stereotype

“Whenever you’re a single dad, you need to evolve into this form of hybrid dad and mother. The important thing to that for me has been permitting myself to be really weak with my child. I’ve to let my guard down and be this emotional help 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 dashing to get him to day care and I’ve obtained a piece name and I’m excited about checking bins, 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 at present?’ And he often tells me. You possibly can’t all the time be about checking bins.”

Take Care of Your self

Whether or not you’ve simply divorced or separated, otherwise you’ve misplaced a accomplice to demise, your intuition as a single dad could also be to only push via. 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. “Once we break up, I used to be instantly all concerning the youngsters, ensuring they had been taken care of. However because the analogy goes, if you happen to don’t put the oxygen masks on your self first, you’re not going to have the ability to handle 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 non secular restoration if I used to be going to be a very good father.”

After the demise of his spouse, Attenasio felt like he needed to put his head down and barrel via every thing. “However I spotted rapidly 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 via or the way you turned a single dad, there are professionals in addition to free help teams that may allow you to get via that course of. The inclination is to neglect about your self and be every thing to your baby, however if you happen to’re going to be one of the best father or mother you could 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.

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