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Hi, I'm a Kenyan-born, Colorado-based single mom to twins Hodari and Milambu. I turned the challenges of single motherhood into a thriving YouTube community and blog. Here, I offer support and practical advice on parenting, lifestyle, and more. Let's navigate life's complexities together!


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Co-parenting can be challenging even under the best circumstances, but when toxicity seeps into the equation, it can feel like navigating a treacherous path. Dealing with a toxic ex-partner can take a toll on your emotional well-being, leaving you drained, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

However, it’s crucial to remember that your well-being matters and there are strategies you can employ to protect yourself while co-parenting in a toxic environment.

In this post, we will explore the concept of co-parenting with a toxic ex and shed light on the significance of practicing self-care throughout the process. By prioritizing your own well-being, setting boundaries, and finding resilience, you can reclaim your strength and create a healthier co-parenting dynamic.

So, let’s embark on this journey together and discover how to thrive in the face of adversity, ultimately nurturing your own happiness and ensuring the best possible future for your children.

self-care practices while co-parenting

The Importance of Self-Care in Co-Parenting

Co-parenting with a toxic ex can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. The constant conflicts, power struggles, and negativity can leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.

This is why self-care becomes even more crucial in this situation. By taking care of yourself, you are better equipped to handle the challenges that come with co-parenting, and you can create a healthier and more stable environment for your child.

1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Co-parenting with a toxic ex often involves ongoing conflicts and disagreements. This can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. Engaging in self-care activities can help you manage stress and find moments of peace amidst the chaos.

Whether it’s taking a warm bath, practicing mindfulness techniques, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy, finding ways to relax and recharge is vital for your mental and emotional well-being.

2. Boost Self-Esteem and Confidence

Dealing with a difficult ex can sometimes make you question your worth and abilities as a parent. It’s crucial to prioritize activities that boost your self-esteem and remind you of your strengths.

Engaging in positive self-talk, setting achievable goals, and celebrating your accomplishments, no matter how small, can help you regain confidence and remind yourself of your value as a parent.

1. Improve Mood and Overall Well-being

Self-care activities have a positive impact on your mood and overall well-being.

Engaging in activities that bring you joy, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or indulging in self-care rituals, releases feel-good hormones and promotes a sense of happiness and contentment.

When you prioritize your own happiness and well-being, you become a more positive and present parent for your child.

2. Increase Resilience and Coping Skills

Co-parenting with a toxic ex can be emotionally draining and challenging. Engaging in self-care practices helps build resilience and equips you with better coping skills.

By taking care of yourself, you develop a strong foundation to handle the ups and downs of co-parenting. This resilience allows you to bounce back from setbacks, navigate conflicts more effectively, and maintain a healthy perspective on the situation.

3. Enhance Your Relationship with Your Child

When you prioritize self-care, you are better able to show up as your best self for your child. Taking care of your own needs allows you to be more present, patient, and emotionally available. By modeling self-care, you teach your child the importance of prioritizing their own well-being.

Additionally, when you take steps to manage your stress and cultivate a positive mindset, you create a more peaceful and harmonious environment for your child, promoting their own emotional well-being.

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, especially in the context of co-parenting with a toxic ex. It is not selfish to prioritize your well-being; in fact, it is an act of self-love and an investment in your ability to parent effectively.

By taking care of yourself, you are better equipped to handle the challenges that arise, nurture a positive relationship with your child, and create a stable and loving environment for their growth and development.

RELATED: The Best Biblical Solutions for Handling Injustice in Co-parenting

Techniques for Practicing Self-Care While Co-parenting With A Difficult Ex

1. Prioritize Your Physical Well-Being

nourish your body while co-parenting

Prioritizing your physical well-being is a vital aspect of self-care when co-parenting with a difficult ex. Taking care of your body directly impacts your mental and emotional well-being, giving you the energy and resilience needed to navigate the challenges of co-parenting. Here are some ways to prioritize your physical well-being:

1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule

Adequate sleep is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Set a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to get the recommended hours of sleep each night.

Create a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation and signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. This may include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

Prioritizing quality sleep will rejuvenate your mind and body, enabling you to better cope with the demands of co-parenting.

2. Nourish your body with healthy food

Eating nutritious meals plays a significant role in maintaining your physical and mental health. When co-parenting with a difficult ex, it’s easy to fall into the trap of stress-induced poor eating habits or neglecting your nutritional needs.

However, fueling your body with healthy, balanced meals can positively impact your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.

Plan and prepare meals in advance to reduce the temptation of unhealthy options and ensure you have nourishing food readily available. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet.

Prioritize hydration by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day, as staying hydrated can boost your energy levels and enhance your cognitive function.

3. Engage in regular exercise

Regular physical activity not only benefits your physical health but also has a profound impact on your mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters, and reduce stress levels.

Find activities that you enjoy and that fit into your schedule, such as walking, jogging, yoga, dancing, or joining a fitness class. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. If finding long stretches of time is challenging, break it up into shorter, more manageable sessions throughout the day.

Exercising not only helps you stay physically fit but also improves your self-esteem and provides an outlet for releasing tension and frustration.

2. Nurture Your Emotional and Mental Well-Being

mental health suppoirt

1. Seek support

Seeking support from trusted individuals who understand your situation can provide immense comfort and validation. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who can offer a listening ear, empathy, and guidance.

Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges can help you feel less alone and provide fresh perspectives and insights. Sharing your thoughts and emotions can be cathartic and provide you with the support system you need during difficult times.

2. Journal

Journaling can be a powerful addition to your journey of nurturing emotional and mental well-being while co-parenting with a toxic ex.

By incorporating journaling into your routine, you can further enhance your self-reflection, emotional processing, and personal growth.

3. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are powerful tools for managing stress and anxiety, and cultivating a positive mindset.

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on the present moment, allowing you to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This practice can help you find inner calm, reduce stress levels, and improve your overall well-being.

Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or alternate nostril breathing, can help activate your body’s relaxation response and alleviate anxiety. Journaling is another effective technique for processing emotions and gaining clarity.

Write down your thoughts, concerns, and achievements to gain a fresh perspective and release emotional tension.

4. Consider therapy

Professional therapy can be incredibly beneficial when co-parenting with a toxic ex. A therapist provides a safe and non-judgmental space for you to explore your emotions, gain insights into your situation, and develop coping strategies.

Therapy can help you navigate difficult emotions, heal from past traumas, and build resilience. A therapist can also assist you in establishing healthy boundaries, improving communication skills, and developing effective co-parenting strategies.

Seeking professional help is a sign of strength and self-care, allowing you to prioritize your emotional well-being and gain the support needed to navigate the challenges of co-parenting.

Remember, nurturing your emotional and mental well-being is an ongoing process. It’s essential to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate the complexities of co-parenting with a toxic ex. By seeking support, practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and considering therapy, you equip yourself with the tools and resources to manage your emotions, maintain a positive mindset, and create a nurturing environment for yourself and your child.

RELATED: 40 Empowering Journaling Prompts for Healing and Growth While Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex

3. Set Boundaries:

set boundaries while co-parenting

When co-parenting with a toxic ex, setting boundaries becomes an essential tool for preserving your emotional and mental well-being. Establishing clear guidelines for communication, minimizing exposure to negativity, and surrounding yourself with positivity are key components of boundary-setting.

In this section, we will explore these strategies in detail and discuss how they can empower you to navigate the challenges of co-parenting while prioritizing your self-care.

By setting boundaries, you create a healthier environment for yourself and your child, allowing you both to thrive despite the difficulties you may encounter.

1. Establish clear communication guidelines

One of the key aspects of setting boundaries when co-parenting with a toxic ex is to establish clear communication guidelines. Creating a system that minimizes direct communication and focuses solely on necessary co-parenting matters can help reduce conflicts and emotional stress.

Consider utilizing tools such as email or co-parenting apps to maintain a respectful and conflict-free line of communication. These platforms provide a written record of conversations, allowing for better documentation and accountability.

When communicating with your ex-partner, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be concise and to the point: Stick to discussing essential information related to your child’s well-being, such as scheduling, medical updates, or school-related matters.
  • Maintain a business-like tone: Avoid personal attacks or getting drawn into emotional discussions. Keep the focus on the needs and best interests of your child.
  • Stay calm and composed: If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by your ex’s toxic behavior, take a moment to collect yourself before responding. Remember that you cannot control their actions, but you can control your reactions.

2. Limit exposure to negativity

Toxic ex-partners can be a significant source of stress and emotional turmoil. Minimizing contact with your toxic ex whenever possible is crucial for your well-being and the well-being of your child. While it may not always be feasible to completely eliminate contact, there are steps you can take to minimize exposure to negativity:

  • Establish boundaries around communication: Determine specific times or days for communication and stick to them. This way, you can anticipate and mentally prepare for interactions, reducing the element of surprise or constant interruption in your daily life.
  • Utilize third-party communication: If direct communication with your ex is consistently unproductive or hostile, consider involving a neutral third party, such as a mediator or a co-parenting coordinator. This can help facilitate discussions and keep the focus on the needs of your child.
  • Create physical boundaries: If you share physical custody, establish drop-off and pick-up arrangements that minimize direct contact. Consider using a designated location or involving a trusted third party to facilitate exchanges.
  • Don’t engage in conflicts: Whenever you sense that your ex is trying to provoke you whether through his actions or words, remove yourself from the situation and don’t engage.

Remember, protecting yourself from unnecessary negativity is not only beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being but also sets an example for your child on healthy boundary-setting and self-care.

3. Surround yourself with positivity

Building a support system of positive, uplifting individuals is essential when co-parenting with a difficult ex. Surrounding yourself with people who understand and support you can provide much-needed emotional validation, encouragement, and perspective.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Cultivate positive relationships: Seek out friends, family members, or support groups who provide a safe space for you to express your feelings and experiences. Connect with other single moms who can relate to your situation and offer support and guidance.
  • Engage in activities that bring joy: Pursue hobbies or interests that bring you happiness and fulfillment. Engaging in activities you love can boost your mood, reduce stress, and provide a healthy outlet for emotional release. It can be anything from reading, painting, dancing, or joining a sports club—whatever brings you joy and allows you to recharge.
  • Explore new interests and social groups: Stepping outside of your comfort zone and exploring new interests or joining social groups can introduce you to like-minded individuals who share similar passions. This can help you broaden your support network and build new connections based on positivity and shared experiences.

Remember, surrounding yourself with positivity doesn’t mean ignoring the challenges you face. It means creating a supportive environment that encourages personal growth, resilience, and well-being, which ultimately benefits both you and your child.

By setting boundaries in communication, limiting exposure to negativity, and surrounding yourself with positivity, you take proactive steps to protect your emotional and mental well-being while co-parenting with a toxic ex.

These practices empower you to maintain a healthier and more balanced co-parenting relationship, ultimately benefiting your child’s overall development and happiness.

4. Practice Self-Compassion

practice self-compassion while coparenting

Practicing self-compassion is a vital aspect of self-care for single moms co-parenting with a toxic ex. It involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance during challenging times.

Co-parenting can be emotionally demanding, and it’s easy to fall into patterns of self-criticism and negativity.

However, by cultivating self-compassion, you can counteract these harmful tendencies and foster a nurturing relationship with yourself. In this section, we will explore the importance of self-compassion and provide practical tips for integrating it into your co-parenting journey.

Remember, self-compassion is not a luxury but a powerful tool for building resilience and maintaining your well-being:

1. Challenge negative self-talk

One of the most important aspects of self-care is to challenge and replace negative self-talk with self-compassionate thoughts. When co-parenting with a toxic ex, it’s easy to blame yourself or feel overwhelmed by guilt and shame.

However, it’s crucial to remember that you are doing your best given the circumstances. Instead of criticizing yourself for perceived failures, remind yourself that you are a loving and dedicated parent who is navigating a challenging situation.

Replace self-critical thoughts with affirmations such as, “I am doing the best I can” or “I deserve kindness and understanding.”

2. Celebrate small victories

In the midst of a difficult co-parenting journey, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest victories. Nurturing yourself means recognizing your achievements, no matter how insignificant they may seem.

Maybe you successfully managed a peaceful exchange with your ex-partner or effectively handled a tough conversation about your child’s well-being. These are accomplishments that deserve to be celebrated.

Take a moment to acknowledge the strength and resilience it takes to navigate co-parenting with a toxic ex. Celebrating small victories boosts your self-esteem and reinforces your ability to overcome challenges.

Remember, self-compassion is not selfish; it is necessary for your well-being and the well-being of your child. By challenging negative self-talk, celebrating your accomplishments, and engaging in activities you love, you are demonstrating self-love and nurturing your own spirit. Embrace self-compassion as a powerful tool on your co-parenting journey, allowing yourself to heal, grow, and thrive amidst the challenges you face.

RELATED: How To Heal and Rebuild Self-Esteem While Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex

5. Build a Support Network

co-parenting self- care: support system

Building a support network is crucial for single moms who are co-parenting with difficult exes. It can provide emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of belonging. Here are some ways to expand on the idea of building a support network:

1. Connect with other single moms

Seek out local or online communities specifically designed for single moms who are co-parenting with difficult exes. These communities can offer a safe space to share experiences, vent frustrations, and seek advice.

Engaging with other single moms who understand the challenges firsthand can provide a sense of validation and support. Online forums, social media groups, or local support groups are great places to start.

Participating in discussions, sharing your own experiences, and asking questions can help you connect with like-minded individuals facing similar circumstances.

2. Delegate responsibilities

As a single mom, it’s important to recognize that you don’t have to do everything on your own. Reach out to family members, close friends, or professionals who can assist you with specific tasks or responsibilities.

Delegating responsibilities can lighten your workload, reduce stress, and create more time for self-care. For example, you could ask a family member to help with childcare or enlist the services of a house cleaner or a meal delivery service.

By sharing the load, you can alleviate some of the overwhelm and have more energy to focus on your own well-being.

3. Find a mentor

Having a mentor who has successfully navigated similar challenges can be invaluable. Look for someone who has experience co-parenting with a difficult ex and has managed to maintain their well-being and positive mindset.

This person can provide guidance, share coping strategies, and offer insights into effective communication or negotiation techniques. A mentor can help you navigate the complexities of co-parenting, provide emotional support, and motivate you to stay resilient.

You can find a mentor through local support groups, online communities, or even by reaching out to individuals who have shared their stories or advice on platforms like blogs or podcasts.

Remember, building a support network takes time and effort. It’s essential to be proactive in seeking connections and reaching out for help when needed.

By surrounding yourself with understanding individuals, delegating responsibilities, and learning from mentors, you can enhance your resilience and navigate the challenges of co-parenting with a difficult ex more effectively.

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Wrapping Up…

In conclusion, self-care is of utmost importance when co-parenting with a toxic ex. The challenges and negative dynamics can take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

By prioritizing self-care, you equip yourself with the tools and resilience needed to navigate the difficulties of co-parenting while creating a healthier and more stable environment for your child.

Engaging in self-care activities helps reduce stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem and confidence, improves mood and overall well-being, increases resilience and coping skills, and enhances your relationship with your child.

It is not selfish to prioritize your well-being; in fact, it is an act of self-love and an investment in your ability to parent effectively.

Techniques such as prioritizing your physical well-being, nurturing your emotional and mental well-being, setting boundaries, practicing self-compassion, and building a support network are essential for practicing self-care while co-parenting with a difficult ex.

Remember, co-parenting with a toxic ex is a challenging journey, but by taking care of yourself, you empower yourself to face these challenges with strength, grace, and resilience.

By prioritizing self-care, you not only create a healthier and more peaceful environment for yourself but also set an example for your child, teaching them the importance of self-care, healthy boundaries, and resilience.

Embrace self-care as an essential part of your co-parenting journey, allowing yourself to thrive and create a positive future for you and your child.

The Best Self-Care Practices While Co-Parenting With A Toxic Ex

Jun 30, 2023

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