Being a single mom can be stressful, lonely, and exhausting. Trying to do everything yourself may at times feel like a wild ride of time management stress and financial woes.
According to a 2018 Pew Research Center Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, one-third of all American children under the age of eighteen live in a single-parent home, and 81% of those single-parent homes are headed by a single mom. If you are a single mom, you aren’t alone in the struggles you face.
She has to have four arms, four legs,
four eyes, two hearts, and double the
love. There is nothing single about a
single mom. – Mandy Hale
Common single mom struggles.
- Financial strain
- Social isolation
- Solo decision-making
- Never enough time
Following are some tips from single moms to help you address those struggles and make it through the tough times.
Survival tips from other single moms.
Reach out to family and friends. Being self-reliant may be necessary for many of the situations you face, but you also need the support of others. Don’t feel ashamed to reach out and ask for help when you need it, or to accept help when it is offered. Be specific about what you need. Some people may want to help but are not sure what to do.
Readjust your priorities. Know that you can’t do it all. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. It’s okay to take shortcuts and to have a less-than-spotless house. Not everything has to be perfect. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, and learn to say no. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do everything and be everywhere.
Balance your schedule. Just because you are a single mom doesn’t mean your primary focus must be on work. Try to balance your schedule as much as you are able, and prioritize time spent with your children when you are not working. Quality time will always trump quantity time.
Make peace with the past. Don’t let your past define you or rule your life. You cannot change what you’ve gone through, but you can learn from it and use the strengths you’ve gained to make the best possible life for you and your child going forward. Try to stay positive, and create a peaceful, happy atmosphere in your home.
Set goals. Set goals for yourself so that you have something to which you can look forward. Even if it’s something as simple as a fitness goal, a reading goal, or finding a few moments to write in your journal before you go to bed at night, it will propel you forward.
Let go of guilt. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, feel guilty that you have a fractured family, or feel discouraged about the things that are lacking or you can’t provide. It’s not the number of parents in the home, but the quality of the parenting that’s most important. Are your children loved and cared for? Is your home a happy place to be? That’s what matters most.
Be flexible. Be flexible when things don’t go as planned. Have a plan B to put into play if the children get sick, for example, or a babysitter cancels at the last minute.
Be organized. Being organized can help save time and keep things moving smoothly. Have consistent morning and evening routines so your children know what to expect on a daily basis.
Make the most of stolen moments. Make the most out of your time by taking advantage of small moments where you can squeeze work or personal tasks into commutes, or while you’re in a waiting room or at a sports practice.
Take time for self-care. Taking care of yourself is an important part of taking care of your children. It helps you build up the energy, stamina, and inner strength you need to avoid burnout and be the best parent you can be. Make sure you eat well, do some kind of regular exercise, and stay connected with friends. If you are healthy and happy, your children are much more likely to be so as well.
Live within your means. Raising a child on one income can be challenging. Track all your expenses for a month and then see where you can eliminate purchases or cut back on overspending. Use the list to create a budget and keep it updated so you can see how much money is coming in versus how much is going out.
Look for creative ways to save money, such as finding fun free activities to do with your children, as well as smarter ways of spending money, like making lists before going to the grocery store, looking for discounts or off-brand products, and/or shopping in bulk for things you use regularly.
Take advantage of available resources. Look into things you can take advantage of such as tax breaks you are entitled to on your tax return, and government-run programs and grants you may qualify for as a single mom.
Make friends with other single moms. Other single moms can relate to your situation better than anyone else. In addition to being friends, you can help each other out. Consider carpooling, for example, or swapping out a few hours of childcare.
Carve out some me time. Look for places that keep children entertained while you are doing something for yourself. A gym, for example, that has a supervised space for the children to play while you are at your exercise class, a play date at a friend’s home, or taking advantage of a Mom’s Day Out program sponsored by your local church are all good options.
Join a single-parent support group. Becoming a single parent can be a very lonely and isolating experience when you don’t know anyone else who is going through a similar experience. Joining a single-parent support group is a good way to connect with other single moms in a safe space where you can share your experiences and struggles, learn about available resources, and get advice, as well as tips and strategies for enhancing your parenting experience.
Find a trusted friend or mentor with whom you can brainstorm. Making tough decisions on your own can feel overwhelming and lead to self-doubt. Finding a trusted friend or mentor who shares your fundamental values with whom you can share ideas and get feedback can lessen your anxiety.
Have children help with tasks. Let your children know they’re needed, and give them real responsibilities to take care of in the home. It will save you time and will allow them to feel valued.
Work as a team. Have regular family meetings with your children. It will help them feel listened to, valued, and empowered. Work together as a team to set rules, solve problems, and come up with ideas for fun things you can do together.
Cling to God and seek His wisdom. Spend time reading your Bible and in prayer. When you’re having doubts and don’t know what to do, turn to God. You may not have all the answers, but He does, and you can always rely on Him. Remind yourself that He is faithful, and in control and that when you commit your life and decisions to Him, He will guide you in the way you need to go and give you the strength to cope with your current situation.
If you have questions and/or would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of the faith-based counselors in our online directory, please give us a call today. You do not have to walk this path alone.
Brodwell, Laura. “6 Strategies for Single Mom Success.” Parents. October 3, 2005. parents.com/parenting/dynamics/single-parenting/6-strategies-for-single-mom-success/.
Maggio, Jennifer. “Being a Single Mom: 17 Surviving to Thriving Tips.” The Life Of A Single Mom. January 15, 2019. thelifeofasinglemom.com/being-a-single-mom-how-to-be/#.
Ward, Kate. “18 single mom survival tips from other single moms.” Care.com. March 16, 2021. care.com/c/where-to-find-help-for-single-mothers/.
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