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  • Writer's pictureSherri M. Herman

How Single Parents Can Stay Social on a Tight Budget

One of the many hard parts of becoming a single parent after divorce is not just the loss of the primary relationship but also the loss of relationships that are connected to the relationship. Moreover, most newly divorced are facing a tighter budget than ever before, making it hard to go out and have fun, especially if there are kids in the mix. Being able to remain socially connected is crucial for healing and rebuilding a new life, so all the more reason to learn how to do so while on a tight budget. That's why I'm sharing 25 strategies for single parents to stay social after divorce while on a tight budget. This was so fun

to write, I hope you enjoy it!

How Single Parents Can Stay Social on a Budget - Sherri M Herman

We Need Relationships Like We Need Oxygen

If you're at all familiar with my work, you know how much I place priority on self-love and inner-connection. However, that's only part of the wellness pie. While inner-connection provides the foundation for developing more authentic, deeper, and meaningful relationships, inner-connection and practices of self-love cannot ever fully replace relationships with other people. After all, we are social mammals. We can survive without relationships but we won't thrive.

I know firsthand just how hard it is to develop new relationships in adulthood, especially after divorce. I've done it twice. I don't know where you're from but I'm from Minnesota where people tend to keep their relationships for a long time and usually they begin in childhood or are centered around family. That can wreak havoc on your social circle if you break-out of the social paradigm or interpersonal dynamics in which you were raised (i.e. you start behaving differently from the group).

Your Ability to Stay Social Shouldn't Depend on Your Budget

Developing new relationships after divorce is especially challenging when you are likely living on a much tighter budget than you used to. You're not in school anymore where it's easy to build new relationships due to proximity. However, lack of money doesn't need to get in the way.

piggy bank on calculator

Staying socially connected isn't a luxury or just for those who are in college, have a large budget, or close family network. Many of these are strategies I have done myself and some are recommendations I found in my research. However, it is for the brave.

Building New Relationships Requires Courage and Determination, But It's Worth It.

I'm going to be honest. If you're anything like me, introverted and blessed with (recovering) social-anxiety, these strategies are hard. They take a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, to challenge the usual stories in your mind, and to exercise good social skills. But that's where the magic (and the growth) happens!

Seriously. I challenge you to try at least one of these. Step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to try, be willing to fail, be willing to learn, be willing to have fun in a whole new way. Be willing to be proven wrong. You never know what the Universe has in store for you when you try something new, it just might surprise you.

parents and kids playing with soccer ball in park

Here you go:

25 Strategies for Single Parents to Stay Social on a Tight Budget

  1. Organize Playdates: If you have school aged children, arrange playdates with other parents and their children from your child's school, neighborhood, or extracurricular activities. This allows you to socialize with other adults while your children engage in activities together and you get to know the families that your children spend time with, win-win!

  2. Attend Free Family Events: Look for free family-friendly events in your community, such as library storytimes, park picnics, or outdoor movie screenings. These events provide opportunities for both you and your children to socialize with others. Check your neighborhood newspaper or a nearby community center.

  3. Host Family Movie Nights: Have regular family movie nights at home where you watch movies together with your children. Invite other families to join you for a fun and affordable evening. Keep the connection alive by skipping the booze and opting for fun mocktails that everyone can enjoy.

  4. Join Parenting Groups: Join local parenting groups or online forums where you can connect with other single parents. These groups often organize meetups, playgroups, and support networks. We can't do parenting alone. It really does take a village. You and your children will be better for it.

  5. Participate in School Activities: Get involved in your child's school activities by volunteering for events, attending parent-teacher meetings, or joining the PTA. This allows you to interact with other parents and build connections within the school community.

  6. Attend Free Community Workshops: Take advantage of free workshops or seminars in your community that are geared towards families or single parents. These events may cover topics such as parenting tips, budgeting, or self-care. Check your community newspaper, community center, or do a simple Google search for your surrounding neighborhoods.

  7. Explore Nature Together: Spend time outdoors with your children by going on nature walks, visiting local parks, or having a picnic in the countryside. Invite another family along or challenge yourself to meet one new person. It's a great way to bond as a family while enjoying the beauty of nature. You can incorporate a simple scavenger hunt, search for the biggest sticks, watch for animal tracks, or look for faces in nature.

  8. Host a Family Game Night: Organize family game nights where you play board games, card games, or video games together at home. Invite other families to join in for a fun and affordable evening of entertainment. Invite other families to bring their favorite games so you have some variety. Let go of needing to win and just enjoy the win of being together.

  9. Join Single Parent Support Groups: Seek out local support groups or online communities specifically for single parents. These groups offer a safe space to share experiences, seek advice, and connect with others who understand your situation. I personally found it very helpful to join a single parenting group that gathered for a group playdate every so often. Kids could play and parents could connect.

  10. Attend Free Community Events: Keep an eye out for free community events such as street fairs, festivals, or cultural celebrations. These events often offer entertainment, food, and activities for families to enjoy together. Pack mostly food from home and set a small budget to get a special treat or participate in one activity while at an event. This way you can enjoy in the festivities and feel like you're part of the fun while not breaking the bank.

  11. Host a Potluck Dinner: Organize potluck dinners with other single parents and their children. Each family can contribute a dish, making it a budget-friendly way to enjoy a meal together and socialize. This is a fantastic way to develop a new family-like system. You become a safe adult for the other children and the other adults become safe for your kids. Let go of the idea of the house needing to be perfectly put together, having beautiful place settings, or any other perfectionism that gets in the way of connection. Side note: When I lived in Costa Rica for nearly a year, most of us in our community had so little resources that when we would host potlucks, everyone needed to bring their own dishes. More often than not, people are just excited to be invited and connect.

  12. Exchange Babysitting Services: Coordinate with other single parents to exchange babysitting services. You can take turns watching each other's children, allowing everyone to enjoy some much-needed time off without the expense of hiring a babysitter. Again, you're building relationships and creating a village that helps care for each other and your children.

  13. Plan a Group Outing: Coordinate a group outing with other single-parent families to a local attraction such as a zoo, museum, or botanical garden. Look online, at your local library, or community center for discounted admission rates or free admission days to keep costs down. Consider driving a ways out of town to find unique attractions off the beaten path. Many times rural attractions have cheaper entrance fees.

  14. Attend Free Community Sports Events: Look for free or low-cost sports events in your community, such as youth soccer games, little league baseball games, or your local high school games. It's a fun way to support local teams, bond with other families (more to invite to potluck dinners!), and any fees paid go towards a good cause.

  15. Attend High School Theater Shows: Similar to the sports events mentioned above, High School theater is a great source of entertainment! You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars to expose your kids to the theater. And you would be amazed at how talented these high school actors really are. I'm coming to enjoy amateur theater more than professional because they're absolutely adorable.

  16. Host a Craft Night for Kids: Why wait for a birthday party? Organize a craft night for children where they can create art projects together. Invite kids from school, the neighborhood, or daycare, and their parents. Set up different craft stations with supplies you already have at home, or check out your local dollar store. Set out some lemonade and invite the parents to bring a snack to share.

  17. Farmer's Market: Meet your need for good, whole foods and social connection at the same time. Find your nearest farmer's market and connect with other families and farmers who share this same interest. They often have kid-friendly activities.

  18. Picnics in the Park: Plan picnics in local parks. They're usually free or have minimal entrance fees, and you can invite friends or family to join you.

  19. Volunteer Together: Look for volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteering not only helps others but also allows you to meet new people who share similar interests.

  20. Join Meetup Groups: Explore or similar platforms to find groups in your area that share your interests. Many of these gatherings are free or have minimal membership fees. I personally led a Meetup group for years after my divorce, as well as participating in several others. It's a fantastic way to meet new people and make new friends with similar interests.

  21. Book Clubs: Start or join a book club with friends, neighbors, or co-workers. You can borrow books from the library or swap them among yourselves to keep costs low. You don't even need many people for this. You can have a book club of 2!

  22. Host a Clothing Swap: Organize a clothing swap party where guests bring clothes they no longer wear and exchange them with others. It's a fun way to switch up your wardrobe without spending money.

  23. Go Grocery Shopping with a Friend: Turn grocery shopping into a fun outing with a friend. You can hold each other accountable to remaining in your respective budgets and you may learn about some new food or meal options from each other.

  24. Group Exercise: Participate in group exercise classes offered at local community centers or parks. Many places offer low-cost or donation-based classes like yoga or tai chi. You can also check out local running, walking, or biking groups that often have a minimal participation fee. Make a goal to make eye contact and say "hi" to at least one new person each time you go.

  25. Online Socializing: While face-to-face interactions are important, and arguably the best for us as social mammals, don't underestimate the power of online socializing. Connecting with like-minded people, or simply those who are having a similar experience as you, can do wonders for helping you feel less alone.

There you have it! 25 ideas to help you get and stay socially connected so that you can thrive in community. Start small and keep going. Let go of any expectations or visions of perfection and be willing to be a messy human - the right people will stick around.

What would you add to the list? Share in the comments below!

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How Single Parents Can Stay Social on a Budget - Sherri M Herman

Sherri M Herman, spiritual life coach, speaker, psychotherapist, MN,

Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love



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