By: Kelly Atyeo-Fick, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Parenting involves decision-making, managing finances, ensuring family responsibilities are maintained, disciplining and teaching. Being a single parent means all these “duties” may fall on one person’s shoulders – which can cause a lot of stress, pressure and anxiety. Being a single parent is hard work and has its challenges. However, it’s not impossible to be a great parent, raise amazing kids and keep them healthy on your own.
Here are some strategies single parents can use to raise their kids as healthy as they can be!
Managing finances is an essential part of adult life. When you’re a parent, managing your finances becomes even more complex as you’re not just managing money for your life – you’re managing it for your child’s life as well. As a single parent, it’s important to look at your finances very closely and build a household budget.
The following are some of the expenses that will need to be accounted for1:
- Car Payments/Transportation
- Telephone & Internet
- Savings (college savings, retirement, vacations)
These are just some expenses to calculate on a monthly basis. You’ll need to determine how much money is available to pay for these expenses and ensure that your family is living within their means.
Once you know your expenses, you can budget to buy the things you need and possibly even want.
Needs vs. Wants
A need is something that you and your family can’t live without – like food and water. A want is something that you can live without – like a new Xbox for your kids. The budget might allow for some flexibility depending on your financial situation from month-to-month, but to raise healthy kids the priorities should include providing nourishing food, shelter, clothes and activities that support their growth and development.
Weekly grocery shops are a great place to cut back on family household expenses.
Some tips to shop on a budget include:
Try shopping with a grocery list app, like the downloadable app from chicken.ca, to prevent you from overspending on items you don’t need.
- Buy chicken legs/thighs in bulk – and chicken breasts with the bone in.
- Look for produce that is ripe or bruised – they may be discounted and perfect in soups/stews.
- Check your stores weekly flyer and take advantage of coupons.
- Look for deals at various grocery stores – prices aren’t always the same!
Kids can help!
As a single Mom or Dad – you’re not by yourself, you have your kids! Include your kids in the process of making healthy meal ideas in the kitchen and grocery shopping. These food skills will help them build a positive relationship with food and ultimately help them make better food choices.
Try making these simple, healthy kid friendly recipes:
Kid-tastic Chicken Fajitas – if you don’t have all the ingredients for this recipe, it’s not a problem! A Whole Grain wrap with some shredded chicken breasts, lettuce, tomato and cheese is a perfectly nutritious meal.
Kiddo Mac and Cheese with Chicken – this calcium and protein packed chicken macaroni recipe is perfect for growing kids. Also – because there are only a few ingredients, it’s great for teens to make after school or before sporting events. Having your kids help with dinner prep will take some of the load off you!
Family, Friends & Community Support
Ask your family members for their help and support – especially if you are in transition to raising kids by yourself. Perhaps join a single parent support group or enter your kids into community programs to give you some alone time if that’s what you need. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help or wanting some time for yourself. You have to take care of yourself in order to best take care of your children.
Government Tax Credits
In Canada there are tax credits, like the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit that you may be eligible for if you are signing your kids up for recreational activities.2 Also, there are tax credits available such as the Universal Child Care Benefit that can help with some childcare costs.3 Contact someone from your Provincial government to help you identify what programs make the most sense for you.
At the end of the day, you are doing one of the toughest jobs in the world. Parenting. Be proud of your kids and proud of yourself – and remember you are not alone!
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. (2015). Expenses. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/Eng/resources/educationalPrograms/ft-of/Pages/ieb-3-8.aspx
- Canada Revenue Agency. (2016). Line 458 and 459 – Children’s fitness tax credit. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/fitness/
- Canada Revenue Agency. (2016). Universal Childcare Benefit. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/uccb/