12 Tips for Single Moms
With my first major decade of (mostly single) mothering behind me, here are some tips I’d give to the single mamas who are knee-deep in the ache and glory of raising that beautiful child:
Daycare is amazing
It truly does “take a village” to survive and thrive as a mother. We often have to fork over some money for that “village help” (aka daycare) in this day and age, but it’s worth it so you can keep your sanity and get some work done. Figure out how you can make this work, even if it’s a few hours a week.
Babysitters are essential
Even in my youngest, brokest times, I had a babysitter that I loved. Finding a babysitter that you love is imperative. They are hard to find, so keep looking until you find her (or him). If you can find a gem of a teenager, they are sometimes the best. But anyone who can come in as an extended family member is what you want, age doesn’t matter. It’s the best when it’s someone with whom you build mutual love and trust, have no judgement, and someone who looks out for your baby because they love both of you. Spend the money so you can have some freedom to get out, do something fun, and remember who you are without a baby at your side. Finding a good babysitter is part of building your sanity and identity as a mother. It is worth the investment.
Say No as often as you want
It didn’t take me long to realize that saying no to social obligations was key in creating my happiness bubble, and to creating windows of time where I could get crafty/creative. When kids are small, there are lots of playdate invites, birthday parties at parks, and so on. Say yes only to what is essential. The rest of it? Say no. Nobody cares. Seriously, they just don’t. And I can’t even tell you the luxury of looking ahead at an entire weekend with nothing on the books. It’s glorious and it makes you a better mama.
Don’t give money all the power
Money is important, but time is just as valuable. View both time and money as currencies, and spend them wisely.
When your child is young, there is simply less time to get things done. This doesn’t mean your creative spirit is dead, or that you will never start a business. It just goes more slowly, and until your kiddo is in daycare or school, you will struggle with finding time. It’s okay. It’s like that for all of us.
In a world of major hustle and bustle, the more time you can carve out to be chill with your babe, the better you will feel. Lay in the yard with a picnic. Watch a movie. Make cookies. Take naps. Be by the water. Remember #3.
I don’t mean buy some cute shoes online. I mean get your groceries online and then go pick them up in one fell swoop. This saves you money by eliminating impulse buys, and the bonus is you don’t have to drag your toddler into the store.
Splurge on trips
Some of my best memories with my son are when I was able to take the two of us on trips. Sometimes it was just a day trip to the ocean, and a couple times I even managed to get us to Hawaii for a tropical vacation—coconuts, cockroaches and all. It’s not easy traveling with kids, but the adventure is always rewarding and educational. Stepping outside the box of everyday life is invaluable. Always bring washcloths and snacks.
Being a mom, single or not, isn’t easy. Look for local mom groups, online forums and so on where you can find other people like you. Sometimes it’s hard as a single mom...certain communities might make you feel like the odd one out, but you aren’t! Be vocal about any issues you face because this will help you call in support and you also might end up helping someone who is going through the same thing you are. I know it might seem cringe-worthy to go to a moms meetup where you haven’t met anyone before, but promise yourself to try it out. I think you’ll find that it’s really good for you and for your babe.
Trust yourself above all others
Motherhood gives you a direct line to your intuition. Don’t lose it. Cultivate it and pay attention. When you are a single mom, you will need to trust yourself above all else. You will get bad dental advice for yourself and your child. A doctor will misdiagnose bilateral pneumonia. Your intuition will help you in these situations. A well-meaning adult will tell you that perhaps the kiwi fruit is why your child had a meltdown. You will be judged which will make you feel like you should be different. Don’t give in to these feelings. Trust your gut like your life depends on it, because it does, and so does the life of your child. You are the ultimate professional when it comes to making the right decisions for yourself and your baby.
When you’re a single mom, dating becomes part of your parenting life. I don’t know any big truths on the matter, but I learned these things: you never know who will be a good co-parent or loving or helpful; don’t rule anyone out because of initial judgements. Be thoughtful when bringing romance around your child, it often sparks jealousy and fear of abandonment in our babies when they see mama becoming smitten. Do not date people who don’t value your truth (see #10). Create rules to protect your space and to make you and your little one feel secure in the power of your den. Don’t throw everything out the window at the possibility of romance; stay grounded, prioritize your child, and know that someone out there will treat you both with love and respect. Demand love and respect. Don’t compromise. Look for clarity and integrity and generosity as key traits when deciding whether or not to kiss someone.
Enjoy the ride
Single mothering is a blessing in freedom and mobility, in sovereignty and discovery. Don’t let people make you feel bad for not having a husband or a partner. Take advantage of the specialness of single motherhood, drop into the deep feminine community it cultivates, and gather your people in ways that feel good to you. Find resources. Go somewhere fun with a baby on your back. Enjoy the unique sexiness of motherhood. Pay attention to who helps you, and invest in those people. Let this be joyful, because it is.
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