It's ironic since you're in New York City, aka the center of the universe, but it's so tempting to get stuck in a rut of Netflix, dinner at home, and zonking out on the couch once the kids are asleep.
If you're a single parent, you don't have another set of hands to help at home, you're relying on one income to cover all expenses, and you're probably exhausted. It's tough, but you're not alone, especially in New York City. Two out of every five families in Manhattan, alone, are single-parent families.
Build a network
That statistic we just shared means there are loads of other single parent families out there like yours, so there are loads of people who understand.One of the best things you can do as a single parent, whether you live in Brooklyn or Budapest, is to build your network.
It really does take a village, and you want to make sure you and your children still have access to awesome resources, and creating a network or village of your own will help you find, connect with, and tap into those resources. Plus, you might need that extra support for your mental and emotional well-being (not to mention the dread of in case of emergency).
Here are a few ways you can start: talk with other parents at work or at the school drop-off or pick-up line. Chat up your neighbor when you see them. Ask friends–new or old–to come over for dinner or a casual weekend brunch (always cheaper to eat at home than to go out!).
You can also consider going as a family to a house of worship for moral support, uplifting and encouraging words, and yes, social opportunities (bonus–you might even find a sweet grandma to babysit the kids once in a while!).
Check out organized social groups as a way to meet other parents with similar situations. The New York Single Parents Meetup Group has more than one thousand members, doesn't charge a membership fee, and charges less than $15/person at events.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple
It might seem intimidating at first to consider how to go about network-building in such a large city, but people are people wherever you go. You live in New York City–get out there and enjoy it!
New York City has a high price tag for sure, but there are plenty of free or low cost ways to enjoy the city with your children. From riding the Staten Island Ferry and attending seasonal festivals or street fairs to free museum days, Lego builds, playgrounds, parks, and beaches, there is so much you can do to get out of the apartment and get into the city (or get into nature!).
It's also not nerdy to love the library, folks.They have so many resources at your disposal, and it's for free. New York City is home to more than 200 public libraries, and the New York Public Library offers more than 93,000 programs each year. According to its website, the programs serve everyone from toddlers to teens to seniors.
While NYC may be a concrete jungle, the little known secret is there isn't a shortage of green spaces or even beaches. Almost every borough boasts beautiful beaches, nature preserves, and parks.
Take care of your finances
It's especially important for single parents to have their finances in order. If you were part of a two-income family before, you will have to adjust your budget (and perhaps your lifestyle) to survive as a family on a single income. Make sure you sit down and create a budget, and stick to it.
One thing that may be an issue is child care. It's expensive, especially if you had been staying at home to care for your children yourself. There are plenty of child care programs available in they city, and there's help for those who can't afford it. You can apply for subsidized child care through NYC Children's Services to get you started. Also make sure to use that network of other single parents you've been building. Other parents are your best bet for good referrals to child care options. You can even lean on each other to babysit if you can't find any other viable options and your work schedules allow it.
Make sure you're nurturing your credit score, too. That's what will help you get approved for that perfect apartment or house for you and your kids. Pay all your bills on time, and don't get into debt. If you need to build more credit, you can always use a good cashback card for your expenses and just pay it off monthly so you're not paying interest. Your best bet will be the ones with good percentages on everyday purchases or groceries. This will help you out with that credit score and get you a nice little bonus just for spending money you would have been using anyway.