5 Ways to Survive Being a Single Mom
Remember what’s good about your situation
“I loved being a single mother because I knew the buck stopped with me: No arguing or negotiating with another parent. It helped me have a very focused relationship with my son,” says Joanna B.*
Why it’s good advice: Wallowing or worrying that you’re not doing a good job will just stress everyone out. You might be alone in this parenting thing, but so what? Your kids will have a strong, independent mom to look up to, someone who looks out for their best interests and is totally focused on them. And isn’t that amazing?
Don’t be shy: rely on other people
“Use the village model — take advantage of the positive people in your life who can have a good influence on your children. Just because your child might not have another parent to talk to doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have other people to go to,” says Giana T.
Why it’s good advice: Ever heard the saying, “You can’t be all things to all people?” Though you’re an awesome parent, you both need more than just each other. Having other, dependable people you can talk to and to give you a little time away from each other will help you argue less, be less stressed and give you an extra sense of extended family. It’s nearly impossible to do it all alone. So spend time with aunts, uncles, grandparents and family friends. Join a single mom support group, where you can meet other parents dealing with the same issues as you. Something as simple as knowing you have someone to call who can pick up your kid at daycare when you’re running late will lighten your load and give you peace of mind. (We know: what’s that?)
Go ahead and cry
“It’s ok to allow yourself to take a moment and cry because sometimes that’s just the mini-release you need from it all. Then, pull it together because you have a little somebody who thinks he world of you and they are too special to let down,” says Rowan L.
Why it’s good advice: You’ve got to be “on” 24 hours a day, and that can wear on you pretty quickly. If you’re upset, there’s no reason to hold it in. Give yourself some time to let it out and then move on. And if that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. “I call one of my best friends – or another single mom – and vent,” says Heather Y. “And if I cry on the phone, that’s okay too.”
Take “me time” — without the guilt
“Once a month, I take a long lunch on Saturday somewhere that I wouldn’t normally go with my kids. A neighbor watches my daughter and even though I’m not gone long, the time ‘off’ rejuvenates me,” says Leanne K.
Why it’s good advice: Everyone deserves me time — yes, even a single mom. Time where they don’t need to cut someone else’s food or pick up toy cars off the floor. Other ideas include an afternoon mani and pedi, a deep tissue massage or an early morning run. Doing something you enjoy without the kids will restore your physical – and emotional – health, without acting like hiring the babysitter or asking your friend to sit is somehow wrong. Even if you can’t get out of the house, ask your kids to play with each other (if you have more than one) while you have a latte and read a celeb magazine, or whatever it is you love to do. You’ll be a better mom after recharging your batteries.
Quit dwelling on the negative
“No one will judge you if there are dirty dishes in the sink and clothes in the laundry basket,” says Maya B. “I’ve learned over the years that the time I spent with my son was way more important than making sure my house looked tidy. He was happier when we were together, and I was too!”
Why it’s good advice: You’re more likely to regret not spending the afternoon at the park with your child than you’ll regret not defrosting the meat in the freezer. Since everything at home is your responsibility, you might feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you to get everything perfect. But there really is no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to parenting. Remember that other parents make different mistakes than you do. Maybe they were late for daycare pickup or forgot the lunch money. They’re not any better at this whole parenting gig than you are.
*Some names have been changed.