A Guide To Single Parent Stress Syndrome

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Have you ever met a single parent that isn’t just a little bit stressed? Or very, very stressed? Stress is one of the most common issues faced by single parents all over the world. So much so that Single Parent Stress Syndrome is a recognised hardship facing the single parenting community. Stress in single parents can have a significant impact on both the parent and the family as a whole. But what exactly is Single Parent Stress Syndrome? What causes it? And how do you identify its signs and learn to cope with it effectively?

woman stressed with her head against the window
Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

What is Single Parent Stress Syndrome?

Single Parent Stress Syndrome, also known as SPSS, is a term used to describe the stress and pressure experienced by single parents. It encompasses the emotional, physical, and mental strain that arises from the responsibilities of raising children alone. Juggling work, household chores, finances, and parenting can often become overwhelming, leading to increased stress levels.

Single Parent Stress Syndrome is not a diagnosable mental health condition. Rather, it is a term used to acknowledge and address the unique stressors faced by single parents, which can significantly impact their overall well-being if not properly managed.

The first thing we want to advise anyone dealing with SPSS is not to suffer in silence alone. Speak to your GP or connect with other single parents going through the same thing as you on the Frolo App

What Causes Single Parent Stress Syndrome?

There are various factors that contribute to the onset of Single Parent Stress Syndrome. The first and most obvious cause is the pressure of parenting alone without the support of someone to share the responsibilities or offer emotional support. Single parents often shoulder all the burdens and decision-making on their own, which can be exhausting.

Financial constraints and the pressure to provide for the family are also common contributors to stress. Limited financial resources can lead to feelings of anxiety and insecurity, further exacerbating the stress experienced by single parents.

Finally, a lack of social support and loneliness can amplify the stress levels. Single parents may feel isolated and overwhelmed without a reliable support network to rely on during difficult times. The constant struggle to balance work and family life can also intensify stress levels.

Again, we want to remind anyone dealing with SPSS that you are not alone. The Frolo community of single parents is here to support you. 

Identifying the Signs of Single Parent Stress Syndrome

Recognising the signs of Single Parent Stress Syndrome is crucial in managing and addressing this issue effectively. While the symptoms may differ from person to person, common indicators include:

  1. Feelings of constant fatigue and exhaustion
  2. Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  3. Increased irritability and mood swings
  4. Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns
  5. Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and stomach issues
  6. Feelings of overwhelm and inability to cope

It is important to keep in mind that experiencing occasional stress is normal for any parent. However, if these symptoms persist and significantly impact your daily life and well-being, it may be a sign of Single Parent Stress Syndrome.

Understanding the Impact of Single Parent Stress Syndrome

The effects of Single Parent Stress Syndrome can extend beyond the parent themselves and impact the entire family dynamic. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of their parent's stress levels. However, worrying about the impact of your stress on your children will not help the situation, so it can become a toxic cycle of stress, and worrying about the impact of your stress leading to more stress. 

High levels of stress in single parents may lead to decreased emotional availability and support for your children or impact your  ability to provide effective discipline and structure, leading to behavioural and emotional difficulties. 

Seeking support is one of the best ways you can disrupt the stress cycle. 

Tips for Coping with Single Parent Stress Syndrome

While Single Parent Stress Syndrome can feel overwhelming, there are several strategies that can help alleviate and manage stress effectively. 

  • Build a support network. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support and practical help. The Frolo App is the best place to find people dealing with the same issues as you. You can share your profile with other single parents as well outside the app, to help grow your network. 
  • Ask for help. Learn to delegate responsibilities and ask for help when needed. You don't have to do everything alone.
  • Practice self-care: Take time for yourself and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Prioritising self-care is essential for your well-being and is far from being a selfish pursuit for single parents. 
  • Set realistic expectations: Don't strive for perfection. You are doing the best you can! Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your family.
  • Seek professional help if needed: Don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counsellor who can provide guidance and support in managing stress. 

Read our guide to therapy for single parents here. 

Managing Single Parent Stress Syndrome in the Workplace

The demands of the workplace can further compound the stress experienced by single parents. Balancing work and family responsibilities can often feel overwhelming. This is often made worse by the pressure to keep your job safe as the sole provider in your household. However, there are steps you can take to manage Single Parent Stress Syndrome in the workplace.

  • Communicate with your employer: Openly communicate your needs and limitations to your employer. Discuss possible flexible work arrangements or adjustments that can help alleviate stress.
  • Practice effective time management: Prioritise tasks and create a schedule that allows for work-life balance.
  • Take advantage of available resources: Explore available workplace resources such as employee assistance programs or support networks.
  • Set boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish clear boundaries between work and home life.

The Benefits of Self-Care for Single Parent Stress Syndrome

Repeat after us: ‘I cannot pour from an empty cup!’. Practicing self-care is vital for single parents dealing with Single Parent Stress Syndrome. Taking time for yourself and prioritising your well-being not only benefits you but also has positive effects on your children and family, too.

Self-care helps reduce stress levels, improves mental well-being, and enhances overall resilience. When single parents prioritise self-care, they can better meet the needs of their children and create a healthier and happier family environment.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean extravagant spa days or expensive holidays. It is simply the mindful and purposeful act of prioritising looking after yourself. This might mean getting up 30 minutes before the kids to start your day with a cup of tea in peace. Or it might mean prioritising a babysitter for an evening off so you can have a drink with a friend for some much needed social time. It might be as small as a five-minute guided meditation every evening before bed, or as big as a solo yoga retreat to completely reset. You deserve to feel well looked-after and your wellbeing is a priority. 

Your stress, as a single parent, is completely understandable, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. 

Seek Support

If you’re worried that your stress is impacting on your mental health, it might be time to seek some support from a professional counsellor. We are pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with online therapy service BetterHelp to offer frolos an exclusive 25% discount off their first month of therapy.

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided. By supporting our partners you can help to support the continued running of Frolo. BetterHelp is the world’s largest online therapy service. Rather than having to travel to see your therapist, it’s a 100% online service, making it a convenient choice for when you are a single parent with a busy schedule and limited chances to get out of the house child-free.

Sign up using our affiliate program and not only will you receive 25% off your first month, but you’ll be helping to support the continued running of the Frolo App.

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Find your perfect therapist and claim your Frolo discount at betterhelp.com/frolo  

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