The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Single Parents

by Deborah Copaken
Originally Published: 

1. Press that snooze button. Now press it again. You deserve it! There’s always tomorrow to get in shape. When you finally wake up, blast this song and wallow in it for a good three minutes. Go ahead, sing out loud into your hairbrush if you have to. Then move the fuck on.

2. See all that laundry piling up? Ignore it. The bills, too. And don’t even think about checking your bank balance, are you crazy, what were you thinking? Go wake up those kids. If they say, “No no no, I don’t want to go to school!” play the single parent card. Tell them how hard you have it. Guilt is an excellent motivator in my shtetl. What’s that joke again? “How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

“None. That’s okay, I’ll sit in the dark.”

That’s it. Channel that.

3. Make those lunches. Sorry, you don’t get a free pass on this one. Lunchables is not lunch, it’s carcinogen. On the other hand, if you’re on a really, really tight deadline at work, all bets are off. Just fill those lunch boxes with last winter’s marshmallows. Your kids will worship you. What, did you think you’d get to eat breakfast sitting down? Hahahahaha! Don’t make me laugh. Sorry. Not until 2024. At the earliest.

4. Walk the dog and the kid to school simultaneously, but don’t confuse them. The kid gets dumped at school, the dog gets schooled if he doesn’t take a dump. And run, what are you doing? You’re late. No, there’s no time to stop at the dry cleaner. Your dirty clothes smell fine, really.

5. Do this right now. It’s fun, I promise.

6. When the school nurse calls to say your kid has lice and needs to be picked up, laugh. Then apologize profusely. You’re on a business trip, okay? Make some static noise with a candy wrapper or something. You’re in Tanzania. It’s super far.

7. Lie to everyone. Tell your boss, as you’re leaving earlier than everyone else to pick up the kid at afterschool, that you have a meeting. Tell the school, when you arrive late anyway, that the commute was brutal. Tell your kids, who are always the last ones to be picked up, that you will make it up to them someday.

8. On Monday, make enough chicken for the entire week. By Thursday, when your kids are on their knees screaming, “Anything but chicken, please!” tell them how lucky they are to even have those four-day-old thighs, when kids in Africa are starving. They will roll their eyes, but don’t worry. They’ll eventually go back to taking those surreptitious, weird, low-angle pictures of themselves at the dinner table and posting them on Snapchat. Don’t even try to understand Snapchat. You never will.

9. See those dishes in the sink? The little one has to be put to bed. You have a choice. Kid or dishes. Fuck it. Have a dance party.

10. It’s 11:33 at night, and you’re just getting to email? Are you nuts? Go to bed. Those typing hands can be put to better use.

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