I’ve seen it many times. A single father gets his kids for the weekend. He spends his Friday night at the grocery store dragging his kids along as he scurries to fill the cart with a weekend’s worth of food. He had all week to prepare, but he didn’t, and now he is scrambling rather than spending quality time with this kids.
Don’t be that guy.
I was that guy for quite a while. Overcoming the emotional turmoil of divorce left my life scattered and without structure. My kid-free nights were spent trying to avoid loneliness. This meant my time with them was spent scrambling.
Now, as a secure man, I no longer fight loneliness. I do, however, find that the free time afforded to me as a single father can be quite addictive.
How many married fathers have entire weekends free to golf, write, and travel?
I confess it can be easy to start viewing parenting time as an inconvenience to an otherwise carefree lifestyle.
I have now reached a point of balance where my time with my kids, and the time without, is equally satisfying and productive. As any single father would attest, I would certainly like more time with my children, and would take it without hesitation if the opportunity were afforded.
As a single father my goal is to maximize my impact on my children’s lives and subsequently my own legacy. I want every moment to count.
It’s also important that a single father doesn’t put his life on hold when his kids are around.
This puts them on a pedestal and makes it all about them, this is a poor dynamic with many bad outcomes. You wouldn’t put a woman on a pedestal, don’t do it with kids either.
I once made my kids the center of my existence and the result was a loss of respect from them. I have since moved my focus to my mission and the respect has returned.
Kids need to see a good man living a good life, it is this example that they will follow as they get older, if all they see is you focusing on them it will be difficult for them to look forward into the world with confidence.
With careful planning and discipline a single father’s life can transition smoothly from empty household, to full, and back again.
#1 Create Structure
Structure is the name of the game here. The key to a successful life as a single father, and for the success of your children, starts with a rock solid custody schedule. You, and your kids, need to know what days they are going to be spending with you.
Of course exceptions do occur, but I always make a point to keep them to a minimum. We all benefit from a predictable and reliable schedule. Working with your ex to make this happen is essential.
Keep a daily routine as well. My kid and kid-free days each have their own unique structure. The transitions from one extreme to the other can leave you reeling if you are unprepared.
I work a lot of hours (both at my day job and side hustle) when my kids aren’t around. I love to work, it invigorates me and I sleep well at night after a productive day.
The last thing I want to do is slow my productivity, or take time away from my kids, to pay bills or deal with administrative junk.
Therefore I automate everything I can. I put my finances on autopilot, set google calendar reminders for car maintenance, etc. The less I have on my mind the more I can focus on my mission and my children.
I love cutting lawns. Something about getting outside and breaking a sweat on a hot summer day is quite satisfying. It gives me great pleasure to work with my hands, and doing so outside is especially rewarding.
However, as a single father, I’ve given that up for now. I pay someone to cut my lawn. I come home from a long day at work and it looks perfect, ready for the kids and I to play some ball. I will switch this up when the kids get old enough to help me with the yard tasks, but for now it is not a good use of my time to spend a couple of hours each weekend on lawn care.
I do the same with housecleaning. Paying a maid to clean my home once a month is one of the best investments I have ever made.
#4 Get Help
I alluded to this in part I of this series and it really comes into play when running an efficient single father household.
When I first became a single father I had a martyr complex.
I was determined to do it all on my own. I finally started asking my family for help and it was a game changer.
A one-adult household is difficult to run over the long-term. I reached out to my folks for some help and they were more than happy to oblige. Not only that, but it brought a great deal of purpose to their lives as well, we all benefited from this.
#5 Use Kid-Free Time Efficiently
I set aside Thursday evenings for household tasks such as grocery shopping. This means that on Friday, when my kids get home, there is food in the fridge and the house is clean and ready for a weekend of fun.
I still take them to the grocery store at times, I want them to see how the real world works, but when I do so it is a planned activity done with purpose and preparation.
Some things are simply easier, and more efficient, without kids hanging around.
I get those things done when they’re not around. Household maintenance, errands, and even my grooming routine is easier to take care of when I am solo.
#6 Put The Kids To Work
I will end with this section, but it could be the most important. Kids need responsibilities to learn and grow. When you don’t have your kids all of the time it is easy to let these slip. No single father wants to spend his time with his kids pushing them to do chores, but this is exactly what is needed.
I wrote much of this article while my kids were folding and putting away laundry, sweeping, and vacuuming.
The kids learn valuable life skills and get the base for a solid work ethic. This also gets things done quickly in the household, freeing up more time to do more enjoyable activities later in the day. Doing the work first is a lifelong lesson for them.
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