Single moms are hard-working, capable and doing a wonderful job raising 22 million American kids. However, moms who parent alone also face numerous physical and emotional challenges that can undermine their sense of well-being. If you are solo or about to be solo, this list should help you and your children persevere and thrive on your own. You’ve got this!
- Your children will be OK. Single mom guilt has the potential to derail you from optimistic parenting. There is no evidence to suggest that children of single moms don’t fare as well as children in two-parent families. In fact, kids of single moms learn valuable traits, such as resilience and financial savvy, that serve them very well as adults. Put an end to the guilt and enjoy your kids!
- Kids need attention, not gadgets. Don’t worry if you can’t afford the latest video game or iPod. What your children need most is you. Play with them, read to them or just hang out and talk. Instead of making forgettable purchases, make memories through connection and time together.
- There are no perfect families. Many solo moms confess that they envy two-parent families that seemingly have it so easy. Keep in mind that behind these facades, many families have unenviable challenges and difficulties. Leave the envy behind and focus on everything your family has to be grateful for.
- Self-care and sleep are essential. Single moms are notoriously self-sacrificing for their children. If you give up self-care and sleep, you will burn out and get sick. Don’t go that route, even if it means going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink or cutting back on the extras so you can join a gym. A mom on the edge isn’t good for anyone.
- Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Rather, it’s a practical necessity when you are the only adult in a household. Most people want to support you, but aren’t sure how. Asking a neighbor, friend or family member for help every now-and-then is a win-win.
- Build your network. When moms are widowed, divorced or newly solo, they often lose friends just when they are needed the most. Dedicate yourself to finding new friends and acquaintances. The more contacts on your phone, the more people you can call for practical and emotional support. Be open and friendly and your network will grow to include many wonderful relationships.
- Find your tribe. Parenting alone can feel isolating. Find other single moms on the playground, at work or online so that you can connect with women who truly “get it.” Your tribe will be there for you on the inevitable bad days and celebrate with you when you have great news.
- You are stronger than you know. At the start of their solo journeys, most moms are filled with doubt and trepidation, but plow forward to the best of their ability. At some point, you realize that not only are you doing it, but you are doing it well. Single parenthood builds strength and efficacy that shapes everything you do. It’s amazing how strong you can be when working for your children. It does get easier, and this newfound power will lead you to amazing places!
- You are enough. Presidents, scientists, doctors, artists and many other wonderful adults credit their single moms with giving them the strength of character, steadfast support and love they needed to accomplish their goals. Many solo moms worry that something is missing in their child’s life, but a mom who loves unconditionally is enough. Forget traditional expectations and focus on raising your family in an atmosphere of love and joy. A happy childhood is the greatest legacy you can pass on to your child. Repeat after me: I am enough. My children will be OK.
Single motherhood isn’t easy. But with a little help, self-care and belief in yourself, you will rock this!
Dr. Marika Lindholm is the founder of ESME [Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere], a website and social platform that aims to redefine single motherhood by providing resources, inspiration and a point of connection for the underserved community of solo moms. Dr. Lindholm is a trained sociologist and former professor at Northwestern University.