Single-Parent Strategies for Easier Mornings

Are you a single mom or a single dad trying to make mornings work? Check out these tips for single-parent families in the morning.

Navigating the morning rush is a universal parent problem, regardless of family structure. You’re trying to get yourself ready for work while simultaneously keeping the kids on task. It’s more than a full-time job just juggling breakfast-making, lunch-making, clothes-finding, coffee-drinking, homework-reviewing, backpack-packing, and school-shuttling.

And now you can add a new level of complexity to this problem because, as a single parent, you’re conducting this funhouse symphony all by yourself.

Unique challenges for single parents

Pre-divorce, the dash from door to drop-off had its own unique challenges. But you had a little help. As a two-parent household, you had another set of hands to help you juggle the chaos. No matter how imperfect it was, with two parents it was a tag team of sorts. 

Now that you’re divorced with the children living with you (and you alone) part or all of the time, that delicate balance of time management, discipline, and organization is yours and yours alone. 

A single parent wears all the hats, sometimes all at once. You’re the provider, caretaker, cook, housekeeper, tutor, bather, bedtime storyteller, and morning motivator. You’re the heart and soul of the home, only with less support and – unfortunately – more judgment. And, at the end of the day, it may be all you can do to drag your exhausted body to bed, only to get up and do it all over again the next morning. 

So, how can you glide through those early morning hours without falling to pieces before 8 a.m.?

Wake up before the kids

Waking up to immediate morning stress makes you a time bomb waiting to explode. Remove that unnecessary anxiety and get ahead of the morning by taking some quiet moments to yourself first. You will find that you’re better prepared for family life, including any morning snafus, if you’ve had your coffee with a big helping of quiet. 

Whether you indulge in some quiet meditation or just nurse your coffee in the dark with glazed-over eyes, that small window of solitude may be just enough to allow you to charge into the chaos with a more focused and relaxed frame of mind. 

Plan easy breakfasts

For many households, cooking breakfast first thing in the morning is an unreasonable task. It’s likely that nobody sits down at the same time, and even if they did, you simply don’t have the time to lay down a family meal at this hour.

This is when fruit, yogurt, pre-made egg muffins, cold cereal, and frozen pancakes or waffles are your best friends. If your kids like breakfast smoothies, go for it! Who said “milkshakes” can only be fast-food fare? 

Empower your older kids by teaching them some simple cooking techniques so you can devote yourself to the other meltdowns afoot. 

Read: An Unapologetically Single-Mom Thanksgiving Tradition

Use visual and auditory reminders

While you don’t want the kids to get distracted by their screens in the morning, technology and visual aids can still be your friend. 

Set up a visual organization chart so they own their routines. Frame these as “grownup” time-management skills, or make them games or competitions. Set alarms for toothbrushing and backpack packing. Set a 10-minute warning alarm to let them know they better get moving. 

Bag the bag lunches

Sending the kids off with a neatly made bagged lunch may have been your go-to in the past. But single-parent households have no time for such formalities. The school-bought lunch was invented for just such occasions. 

Embrace the school lunch. Send the kids on their way to school with lunch money in hand (or pre-pay, or however it works at their school). You know they won’t starve before dinner. 

Making the beds? Who cares!

In the broad scheme of things, bed-making is not a critical chore when there are so many other important things to get done. When time and sanity are of the essence, a perfectly made bed is the last thing you should have to worry about.

A support group of other single caregivers may be just what you need. Check out a Hello Divorce favorite, Circles. It’s a place where people can find others in similar situations and get the support and friendship they need.

Let other things go, too

You have priorities as a single parent. In the middle of all this morning chaos, there are so many things that simply aren’t important. Skipping these can make the start of your day easier and much more enjoyable. 

Priorities: The kids should have something to eat. They should have reasonably clean clothes to wear. And they should have a packed backpack with snacks, homework, and anything else that’s necessary for their day. 

The rest is superfluous, so give yourself a break. You may not win the perfect parent of the year award, but do you really care? Your kids’ well-being counts the most. Try to help them be calm and composed and to feel loved and prepared for their day. If that isn’t a perfect parenting morning, we don’t know what is!

Single co-parenting takes time to get used to after divorce. Give yourself a free pass while you’re learning the ropes of your new living arrangements. Holding yourself to some pie-in-the-sky perfectionism only makes everyone (especially you) feel stressed. If you need some breathing room and downtime, reach out to your co-parent, family members, or a friend to fill in. Tomorrow’s a new day, and you can begin again with a fresh start.

As a newly divorced parent, co-parenting with your ex can have its ups and downs. At Hello Divorce, we are here to support you no matter where you are in your divorce process. Whether you need an hour of professional support or an entire divorce plan, we’re here to help. Schedule a free call to learn how. 

Read: Protecting Kids’ Mental Health in Divorce


Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.