A Single Mother’s Survival Guide
Remember that a single mom is just like any other mom and that our number one priority is still our kids. Any parent does whatever it takes for their kids and a single mother is no different.Paula Miranda
Parenting doesn’t come easy, even for a married couple. But it can be twice as hard for a single parent. Whether my choice or circumstances, single parents should not feel less of a person or feel like it’s a death sentence when facing the struggles of the parenting life. Whether you’re a new mom scared trying to figure out how to navigate the new waters or a seasoned mom still struggling, I’m sharing some tips on how I managed raising three boys as a single mom.
Build your village
It truly takes a village. Stop feeling like asking for help is a sign of giving up or defeat. We were never expected to bare the burden of being a parent solo. In fact we should be able to depend on family and close friends to assist when necessary.
- Physical support: That friend, family member or maybe even the hired help that you can count on to give you a break from your duties. Whether it’s a few hours or a couple of days. It’s important to have that time for you. You can’t continue to give of yourself and not take care of yourself. People respond when families are in need. This is especially apparent in a crisis, but also true for less urgent needs. Although we may be reluctant to ask for fear of burdening others, we sometimes forget that it feels good to be able to give support.
- The listening ear: This is your go to person for a vent session. Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a counselor. Determine what your needs are and who will best suffice. I’ve enlisted both. Sometimes I just need a good gossip session with my girls and other times I need some real coping skills.
Join mom groups
Search social media, local churches, etc. I have found some of the most amazing mental support and judgement free mom help in social media mom groups. You would be surprised the amount of women that have the same seemingly silly question(s) that you have or share the same ah ha moments as a mom. Many churches host mom groups to offer playdates and mom support groups as well. If you can’t find one, create one. There are so many other mom’s in your situation that may feel alone too and together you can help each other. I come from a big family on my dads side and there are about five of us that have kids around the same age. We caught on quick and started hosting sleepovers to give each other a break. Maybe you don’t have family nearby, get those trustworthy girlfriends and make a schedule. Even if it’s only every other month. The kids will enjoy the extra company just as much as you enjoy the alone time.
Pick a day or even just a moment to prioritize YOU! What’s the one thing that you enjoy? Favorite snack, favorite tv show, maybe a bubble bath without the kids banging on the door. Or maybe you just need five minutes of quiet. This was me, there were even days when I felt like I couldn’t take a shower because I was so overwhelmed. Then it clicked, I had to make time for myself. If the baby won’t go to sleep, take the bouncer in the bathroom with you, leave the door cracked so it doesn’t get too hot and hop in the shower! Give yourself 15 minutes before the kids wake up to enjoy that calm and your coffee. If you have your village in place don’t be afraid to call and schedule yourself a mom night out. Even if it’s just someone coming to sit with the kids while you get to lock away in the room and pretend they’re not even there.
I don’t dirty this house alone, I won’t clean it alone. I started giving my kids chores, even Ethan. He started emptying his bathroom trash at 4. The oldest two take turns washing the dishes and emptying the dishwasher, folding their towels and wash clothes and taking out the trash. Seems like a lot? Not at all, think about all that you have to do on a daily from taking them to school, practice, going to work and still being mom. It’s a small ask when you give and do so much. Plus you’re teaching them responsibilities. And just in case you’re wondering, no I don’t pay my kids, not saying you’re wrong if you do but you have to do what works for you and your budget. They earn money for completing chores that I don’t assign, like vacuuming the floors, blowing the porch off, etc. Those are going above and beyond and deserve a little extra.
Give yourself grace
I would constantly stress myself out feeling like I had to do it all because I did not want my kids to feel like they were missing out on anything because it was just us and them. I was OVER compensating and trust me the kids don’t even notice after it’s all said and done. You cannot do it all and no one expects you to do it all. Do what you can at the moment and save the rest for later. Don’t guilt trip yourself because you forgot snack day at school or you didn’t fix dinner two days in a row. If your kids are anything like mine they love cereal and Zaxby’s, Lol!
Take a deep breath. You’ve got this! Married or single the parenting role is not a walk in the park. But just the same you can take the hand you’re dealt and make it the best game ever.