5 Ways to Stay Sane as a Single Mom
Becoming a parent is such a big deal. It can be exciting and joyous, and it can also be scary and overwhelming. And if you’re going to be a single mom – or if you already are a single mom – it can be twice as scary and overwhelming.
We won’t pretend to address all the single mom issues in this blog post, but we do want to offer you 5 tips for facing single motherhood.
1. Schedule time for yourself without your child.
You know how flight attendants always tell passengers to put the oxygen mask on themselves before helping someone else? Well, parenting is like that. You can’t take care of your child if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Whether it’s once a week or once every other week, schedule a little time for you to do something just for you.
If you can’t afford a babysitter and don’t have family nearby who will babysit for free, maybe another mom will swap babysitting with you. And your “you-time” doesn’t have to be a big evening out with friends or a date. It can be taking your child to a friend’s house and then going home and taking a bath. Or having a babysitter come stay with your child while you go for a walk. Or asking a friend to babysit while you sit in your car in a nearby parking lot, listening to the radio and painting your nails.
2. Find a work schedule that works for you.
If you’re a single parent, you’re probably juggling a job outside your home with all the responsibilities inside your home. You might even be trying to finish school while working and being a single mom. Whatever your situation, you probably have a lot on your plate. After you figure out what sort of work hours fit best with your circumstances, don’t be afraid to tell your employer what you need. Do you need off at a certain time so you can get to the babysitter’s to pick up your child? Would it be better if you could work more hours in the evening after a family member is available to help with childcare? Many bosses are understanding and want to help single parents out. Be honest and advocate for the sort of work schedule that fits onto that full plate you’re holding.
3. Find role models – for yourself and for your child.
First, think of any single parents you know who are raising great kids. Maybe ask one to mentor you. Or, at the very least, watch that parent and make some mental notes. Next, think of some amazing people raised by single parents. That’s the kind of person you’re trying to raise, and knowing they exist will be encouraging to you on your toughest days. Finally, look around for a strong male role model for your child if your child’s father isn’t in the picture or if your child’s father isn’t a strong role model. Maybe it’s your dad or your grandpa, maybe it’s your brother or a good male friend. Your child needs to see a responsible man committed to loving and supporting the people in his life, and your child needs that male perspective and input.
4. Find a support network – or create one.
No matter how amazing and strong you are, you can’t do this alone. You will need help. And that’s OK! Maybe your family will be that support for you. Or maybe they won’t. You might need to create your own network of friends. If none of your old friends can be the support you need, you can find a moms’ group or a single moms’ group in your community. Once you have that circle of people, ask them for help. Sometimes we’re embarrassed to ask for help, but the people who care about us really do want to help us and support us. They’re just waiting for the opportunity.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Because there is only one of you and you’re juggling so many responsibilities, you might leave the clean laundry unfolded while you play with your child. You might choose 30 extra minutes of sleep over staying up to finish the dishes. You can only do what you can do. Don’t set unrealistic expectations and then beat yourself up when you can’t meet them. Love your child and do the best you can each day. That’s all you can do. And it’s enough.
This may all seem completely overwhelming right now. But you’re stronger and more resilient than you think you are. And you’re probably doing a better job than you give yourself credit for.