Motherhood is filled with ups and downs, triumphs and defeats and it is sometimes a tireless job.
Mothers don’t get sick days, or vacation days and some days you don’t even get the chance to brush your teeth by yourself. Being a single mom, you face a lot of things by yourself whether it is mowing the grass, running your kids places or even who you are going to call when something breaks can be a challenge to a frustrated single mom. I remember my days of single motherhood very well, and there are several things that you can do to help minimize some of the strain and stress of living the life of an everyday single mom.
Perfect Moms Don’t Exist
First and foremost, avoid the internal pressure of trying to be a perfect mom. You are going to make mistakes and that is okay. Feeling guilty over being single if you have just gone thru a divorce, or feeling guilty because you can’t provide the lavish things for your kids you had hoped to or you can’t go on those big vacations you always wanted to is self-defeating. Letting go of unnecessary and invalid guilt will help you and your children get on with your lives and lead healthy, happy and productive lives.
Living on a Tighter Income Requires a Budget
When you are a single mom, money is usually a big concern. Learning to plan a budget and stick to it will help immensely. You may also want to get some advice about long-term investments such as your kid’s college funds, or your retirement fund. Another way to help you make more money is to go back to school or see what options are available in your current job that will give you additional training that may give you more earning potential.
Lean on Friends and Family for Support
A single mom needs to have friends and family that she can count on. You want to surround yourself with a support system of people that can help you if you need a sitter or an errand ran or just someone to vent your frustrations and the joys of being a parent, someone that can take some of the strain off of you. For example, find one of your child’s friend’s parents and really get to know them. Maybe you can share the driving of the kids around, or pick up from school. Share errands with someone else. You go to Costco for your friend and yourself, and let your friend do an errand for you. Having friends and family that you can count on is extremely important. Nobody can do everything and it is okay to ask for help.
Develop a Healthy Co-parenting Relationship with the Father
If you are single due to a separation or divorce, you need to attempt to set some discipline guidelines for your children together. You and the other parent involved need to set up some boundaries and guidelines about discipline so that your children know what behavior is acceptable or not acceptable and that those guidelines will be consistent no matter who they are spending time with. If you can’t get cooperation from your children’s father, concentrate on being a consistent disciplinarian in your own home. Try not to overcompensate for an unavailable father. Your children still need structure and limits to grow into happy and healthy adults.
Follow a Daily Routine
Single moms can eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress and chaos if they have a daily routine. Sometimes it isn’t easy to follow a routine and there will be days that a regular routine just isn’t going to happen, but trying to maintain a daily routine will help you stay organized and know what you are expected to deal with every day. A daily routine will also allow your children to know what is expected of them. They will know when their homework is supposed to be done, whether or not they may have an activity that day, or if your children have particular chores that need to be accomplished.
Set up a Stress Management and Self-Care Plan
Stress is a huge issue for single moms. It is hard when you may feel that the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you are all alone. Being a single mom doesn’t mean that you are alone and have to face everything by yourself. There are several things that you can do for yourself to help you cope with the everyday stress of being a parent.
Exercise is a great way to relieve tension and stress. If you can, try and find time to walk, do aerobics, bike or anything else that may be physical. Even if you spend ten minutes walking on a treadmill, you will feel better. A favorite stress reliever in our house is dancing. This is great if you have smaller children. You can put on one of their silly song cd’s and just get out there and be silly with your kids. This is great for you and your kids. Your kids can tell when you are stressed and unhappy.
Journaling is also another great stress reliever. Journaling is something private that you can write whatever you want to write. You can write out your feelings that maybe you can’t or don’t want to express to anyone else. Journaling helps you release negative thoughts and emotions that may be draining your precious energy.
Choosing your battles are important as a single mom. You need to decide if it is really worth fighting over. Will it really matter tomorrow, in a week, or next month? Pick the ones that are important and learn to let the rest go.
Reach out to your family and friends. They are there for you to lean on if you need it. Don’t be ashamed to admit that you aren’t perfect. Nobody is and that is okay.
Indulge Yourself in Some Much Needed “Me Time”
Another must for single moms is to find the time, even though it isn’t always easy, to have some “me time.” The time when you can do something strictly for yourself. This can be time to sit in your favorite chair and read a book, or go to dinner and a movie with a friend or maybe find a moms club that you want to become a part of. Having “me time” is very important. Find a way to make it happen. Even if it means getting up 20 minutes earlier than everyone else and enjoying that quiet time to yourself.
Being a single mom is hard work. You must wear several different hats and be several different things to many people. Look for the resources that can make things a little easier for you. Take time for yourself, commit yourself to a budget and a daily schedule, and remind yourself that it is okay that you are not perfect, and reach out for help if you need it.