Did you know that out of the 12 million single parent families in the United States, over 80% are headed by single mothers? That’s a lot of single mothers rocking the parenting thing without the safety net of a partner or patriarch in the home. For as many single mothers as there are, there are that many reasons why they are raising their children solo. Whatever your reasons for being a single parent, it’s a fulfilling and meaningful life not without its struggles and strife.
Some single mom lessons are learned the hard way. Let me share with you some secrets I learned through the fantastically joyful roller coaster ride known as single parenting:
1. Schedule Kid-Free Time
You may feel that you are solely responsible for taking care of your child and will likely fall into the trap of focusing all your time and energy on your little one. Guess what? You are responsible for taking care of you too. Your days are filled with diapers and feedings and naps and dishes and laundry and meals and… Well, you get it. You’re busy.
However, you NEED NEED NEED to take some time for yourself, whether this is an hour in the evening to watch Netflix or having your mother watch baby while you go out to dinner with a friend.
2. His Issues Are Not Your Issues
It’s likely that in your life of single motherhood there is a father to your child lingering about. If you’re lucky, he’s super awesome and loves your child as much as you do. If you’re anything like me, he causes nothing but difficulty and frustration.
Whatever your situation is, whether you co-parent or your child’s father performed a disappearing act, his reasonings and excuses are not your problem. If he can’t be bothered to show up to your daughter’s dance recital, it’s not your problem. If he cancels visitations, it’s not your problem. Your sole responsibility is to make sure that, even if their father’s involvement and affection is patchy, your child has all your love and care.
As an aside, I highly recommend implementing some sort of parenting plan for visitation or custody as soon as a separation occurs. Even if you guys are on great terms, it definitely avoids any confusion as to who has rights to what and how much time your child is to spend with each parent.
3. Ask for Help
I struggled for a long time with asking for help. As a single mother, I took full responsibility for the creation and care of my little one. I participated in the series of events that led to her conception, why should I expect anyone else to take care of her? Why should I inconvenience someone else’s time to make my life easier?
If you’re like me, you need to stop. Someone, somewhere, loves you and your child enough that spending time with either of you is in no way impeding on their time. If you don’t feel that this person exists, start looking – play groups, support groups, Facebook groups.
There is someone out there that wants to help. However, if you’re also like me, you have an amazing support system of friends and family that are there to help.
You just need to ask.