As someone living in the 21st century, you’ve probably faced cultural, political and social changes as a part of your process of growth and evolution.
As someone who’s a woman, you will have experienced the wave of change firsthand, with themes around employment, marriage and child-bearing changing drastically.
In this fluid socio-economic and political climate, if you’re a single mother, you’re also probably in touch with the struggles that come with this status.
Irrespective of you having stable finances you might face these problems. Raising a child or a couple of them, is far from an easy job.
Perhaps it is then no surprise that studies even in the early 2000s have revealed that single parents, specifically single mothers, experience greater psychological stress as well as depression(1).
How then, in 2019, must a single mother tread through the many challenges, keep her sanity as well as her child’s and also find a way to thrive?
Whether you are never married or Divorced, co-parenting with an ex or chose to be asingle mother, one thing definitely stands true for you as you have entered the Single Mom status, Life will no longer be the same again! –
– The Minds Journal
Here are five tips that could make you more successful than ever as a single mother.
1. Remember you have choices
Single motherhood can come as a shock to many, to some as a surprise and to some as an event that’s completely contrary to their belief system.
Any of these can be potentially traumatic because it might feel like you didn’t deserve it, that your “fate” has gone squarely against you etc.
Even if what you feel is partially right, you’ve got to remember that you are the main person to drive power into your process of growth along with your child’s, in the here and the now.
From discipline to academics, to play time to health, there’s a choice to be made in every area of life. It might just be a blessing that you can finally craft a life that you always wanted, without having to take the opinion of someone else all the time.
2. Commit to a support system
You’ll have to work extra hours, you’ll have sick days, you’ll feel like you need a break so badly that you could keep driving and never come back. It’s all part of being human and it’s all even more part of the single mother life.
Invest in a support network that you can rely on in times of need.
Develop cordial bonds with neighbors so that a mutual support system can emerge. See if you can take living space close to friends you trust.
As someone adjusting to the warrior existence of a single mother, you might find yourself refusing help. Don’t because this can become a pattern.
Use your discretion and see how you can use the help you receive.
Make a physical list of the friends and acquaintances that have come to your aid – this will remind you that there are people looking out for you and may even give your child more comfort in your absence.
3. Make ‘me’ time and ‘together’ time
Time is precious. Having said that, as a single mom, you might find even more resonance with that statement.
There’s work, doing the laundry, sending your child to school, making sure the fridge is stocked, traveling for business trips, visiting the doctor; the list is endless.
Finding discipline around time can be one of the most freeing experiences in single motherhood. One way to do it, is to take some time out for yourself everyday, for what is called “self-care”.
Exercise, have a leisurely shower, meditate, just be with yourself in silence – do what you need to, to rejuvenate on a daily basis. This will provide you fuel to move forward to the next day. Likewise, also look at making “together” time with your child(ren).
This is part of the relationship hygiene process that can make everyone’s life a bit easier. Check in about the day. what felt good and what didn’t, what plans you can make for the next weekend.
In some ways, this can also set examples for your child to emulate as they grow up.
4. Take care of money matters
One of the non-negotiable things to do to become successful as a single mother, is to have a good grip over finances.
Whether you have support from your ex-spouse or not, it’s a good idea to have a financial forecast to work with, which includes aspects of health, academics, travel and even emergencies.
If you’ve had joint debt with your ex-spouse, see if you can pay it off as fast as possible. Joint debts can be tricky for the simple reason that if the other party isn’t paying, authorities will come after your life. Living debt-free is a good idea anytime, even more so if you’re a single mother.
Alongside all of this, see if you can create some financial goals for yourself.
- Do you need child support?
- Would you do better with a higher-paying job?
These are some questions to ask, better now than later.
5. Refer to good role models
Everybody does a little better with inspiration around. When it comes to single mothers, this is probably truer than ever.
A break from the more accepted family format can often make single parent families feel a bit broken. However, there are many examples in history where people made it big and stayed happy despite being raised by single parents.
One such case in point is President Barrack Obama. There are of course many others including Kate Beckinsale, Halle Berry and Eddie Murphy.
A list such as this can be inspiring especially on days you feel dejected and disillusioned by how an arrangement like this will play out. It’s a method to remember people have done it before and people will choose this way of life after you.
What’s more important is how you make something work and not how something inherently is. Role models closer home like uncles, grandfathers and even men you befriend can have a big impact on your and your child’s life.
If you’re a single mother reading this piece, it’s needless to say that you’re living a choice many would shy away from. As tough as it gets on some days, with a few practices in place, you can be a superlative caregiver.
Here’s wishing you the very best.
1. “Stress, social support and depression in single mothers” led by Cairney J in 2003 and “Single mothers in low-wage jobs” led by Jackson AP in 2000.