The challenges faced by single mothers can seem overwhelming. Raising children is hard enough as part of a committed relationship, but when faced when the daunting task of doing it alone, it can seem twice as difficult. Luckily, women everywhere have faced this same obstacle and have succeeded in overcoming it, successfully raising happy and healthy children.
Just because you’re a single mom doesn’t mean you are alone. Here are some survival tips for single mothers based on the experiences of many others who have been in the same position.
- Find a community
No matter how wonderful their children are, every parent needs contact with people their own age who are going through the same experiences and share the same interests. As a single mother, this is especially important. Your children shouldn’t be your only company, even if you are the only one taking care of them. Reach out to other mothers who are also the sole provider by seeking out a single parent support group, a parenting group at church, at a community center with programs for women or by finding like-minded people on shared networking sites.
Single parents don’t have to be the only people you reach out to in order to find support and to avoid isolation, however. Having a social circle made up of many different people can be a respite for a single mother. Join a church or other religious group, attend a reading group for children or adults at the library or find a playgroup. Even if you are naturally a little bit shy, finding new relationships and maintaining old ones will help give you a sense of belonging and provide a support system if you need it.
- Take care of yourself
Too many mothers neglect their own personal needs because of busy schedules and the demands of raising children. For single mothers, this is especially challenging, with the need to work and take care of the children. Yet, in order to give your best to your children, you need to take care of yourself. Neglecting to have some time alone or doing activities that you enjoy could affect your mood and your health, and even make your job as a single parent harder because you feel stressed or unfulfilled.
While you may not be able to pamper yourself at a spa or treat yourself to luxuries, you can do simple things to make sure you are taking care of your body and your needs. Make time for a little exercise, even if it involves bringing your children along, such as taking a walk with the stroller out in nature. Make sure you are getting the proper nutrition and rest so you will have the energy and right frame of mind needed to give your full attention to your little ones when you are with them.
- Plan for emergencies
As the only parent, you need to be prepared for emergency situations such as a sick child or getting sick yourself. Have an emergency contact list of relatives and friends who can help you when you are in need. There are also emergency babysitting services in many areas that you may want to find out about before you ever need them.
- Consider unconventional childcare
Paying for childcare is one of the many challenges of single parenthood, but there are many ways to go about it that may cut your costs and allow you to spend more time with your children. Along with other parents, create a babysitting network that involves trading childcare with other families: a friend could watch your children if you need to get out of the house, while you can offer to do the same if she wants to run errands. Another idea is to consider having a student live with you and trade childcare for rent.