20 Tips for Survival when Becoming a Single Mom
Becoming a single mom isn’t exactly something that we plan on when starting a family. But when the unexpected occurs, there are definitely several things to do to make life more bearable. Learning how to take control of your finances, your schedule, and your well being are essential. Here are 20 tips for survival when becoming a single mom.
Becoming a Single Mom Stinks, But These Tips Can Help
1) Set a schedule
Your life may suddenly seem like chaos, so try your best to stick to a schedule to maintain order. It not only makes the days flow smoother, but it provides more stability for the kids while their world is being shaken.
2) Set boundaries
Whether you’re in the middle of a divorce, or your husband has simply walked out the door, set boundaries. You need to focus on what is best for you and your children right now, so make sure your boundaries are clear and that your needs are being met.
3) Start a side hustle
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission off any purchases you make through them, with no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
This is a really good time to at least dabble in something that will produce more income. Join a survey site, start a blog with BlueHost (subscribe to get my FREE 49-page eBook!), sell things on eBay (see my post on this!), have a yard sale, or start charging your friends and family for photo shoots! Just do a little something to get the ball rolling, so you have another stream of income under way.
4) Spend time with your kids
I know it’s tempting to just crawl under a rock and hide, but your kids desperately need you right now. If you feel like you’re about to blow up from the stress, kindly excuse yourself for a few minutes to calm down, but don’t make this the norm. Spend as much quality time with your kids as possible.
5) Take care of yourself
You need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy during this process. Becoming a single mom is probably the most stressful thing you will ever endure, and stress can quickly take its toll on you if you let it. So take a bubble bath after the kids have gone to bed, soak your feet, try some tension-easing herbal tea (yes, that’s really a thing, and it’s amazing!), pray, sit in the sunshine for 15 minutes, read a book, eat well, drink water, and REST.
6) Cut unnecessary expenses
Make a list of all the current expenses, and be honest with yourself about what can go. Now would be a good time to cancel that gym membership you haven’t used in ages. Consider getting rid of your cable temporarily – your local library probably has most of your favorite shows on DVD anyway. Cut back on groceries. Save on your electric bill by unplugging things when not in use, and bumping your thermostat by 2-3 degrees.
7) Stay calm
I know that’s easier said than done. If your husband/ex just called and ruined your day, or your kids are driving you crazy, take a deep breath. Count to 10, walk away, and gather yourself. If you’re having a horribly emotional day, try to make yourself scarce periodically so you can practice some calming techniques. Talk to a friend. Pray. Google something funny to break the tension. You can get some more ideas from my other post on improving your mood quickly.
8) Find out who your friends are
You’re going to need them. This is a good time to weed out your friends list. Focus mostly on the real friends, who you can count on, and whose company is mutually beneficial. Make sure you have a few faithful friends or family members that you can trust for advice, help with the kids, etc. That’s not always easy. My parents are several states away, and my closest friend is on the complete opposite side of the country, go figure! But there are a few local people that I can really trust and rely on, which is nice.
9) Check into assistance
Depending on your financial status, you may be eligible for some state benefits, even if you are not legally separated or divorced. If your husband is no longer residing with you, you should look into WIC and your local Job & Family Services office for assistance. Don’t be embarrassed about it. I am definitely not an advocate for people using the system unjustly. But you legitimately need help right now, and you have paid into the system over the years by working and paying taxes, so you should not feel guilty for getting some of those benefits until you’re more financially stable.
10) Focus on things you can control
Do I really need to elaborate here?
11) Set Goals
If you have a plan and some goals to work toward, it can help you to stay focused on the things that matter. Whether your goals are getting rid of some debt, cleaning out the garage, getting your kids into a social group, or setting some health goals, write them down and give yourself something to stay motivated and get your mind off the negatives.
12) Get alone for a while
Whether you work from home or at an office, you need to get some alone time. It’s more difficult if you work from home and your kids are not in daycare or school, but make it a priority. It’s currently 2:52 am here, and this is the only time I can ever get alone. It’s tough waking up during the middle of the night, but I would go stir crazy if I didn’t! If you can get someone to watch the kids here and there, that’s ideal, but we don’t all have that opportunity. So wake up half an hour earlier in the mornings, or stay up 15 minutes later, so you can have a few minutes to yourself to unwind.
13) Let the little things go
Decide if this is a hill you really want to die on. If not, let it go! You need to start letting things roll off you, and focus on the more important matters. It takes practice.
14) Eliminate debt
One of the best things you can do while becoming a single mom is eliminate debt. Don’t carry around that baggage and allow it to get you into a deeper hole. Do whatever you have to do to pay off those credit cards and stop using them. This is where #3 really comes in handy.
15) Continue discipline
Don’t change the way you discipline your kids just because Daddy’s gone. I know it’s tempting to let them get away with things because you just want to see them happy. But you also don’t want to teach them to be a victim, and you don’t want to cultivate bratty behavior. It’s really hard sometimes. But continue disciplining as usual, and focus on letting them know that you love them too much to let them behave badly. Always offer hugs and affection after disciplining, to reassure your kids that you are doing it out of love, not anger. The last thing you want is to become the bad guy.
16) Make simple meals
If you want more detailed suggestions on this, let me know in the comments, and I will put together some really easy and healthy recipes for you. But in a nutshell, use your crock pot a lot, and don’t try to be chef of the year right now.
17) Stay positive
If your friends and family are constantly talking negatively about your situation, or about your husband/ex, kindly ask them to stop. You know what a louse he’s being – you don’t need to rehash it every day. You know how dire your financial situation looks – you don’t need to wallow in it. Try to find every little positive about your situation, and eliminate negative talk and thoughts. Post some positive quotes on your mirror, in your kitchen, in your home command center…wherever you will see them on a regular basis. Keep the positive thoughts handy at all times.
18) Get out of the house
This can be a huge challenge, especially if you’re working from home…and especially if you have small children. It’s such a pain to get diapers, bottles, sippy cups, toys, and other necessities ready every time you walk out the door. But you NEED to.
This was one of the most difficult things for me to do. I used to dread leaving the house, especially because both of my boys have SPD, which means I have to bring an entire ARSENAL of distractions every time we leave the house, to avoid epic meltdowns in public. But it’s definitely worth the trouble.
Staying inside your house can quickly lead to depression, and negatively affect your kids as well. Get out of the house every day. Even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
19) Avoid big changes for your kids
It’s okay to let your 15 month old use their bottle a while longer. And it’s okay if your 3 year old is still in diapers. Don’t rip that binky away from your 2 year old right now either. Kids are much more sensitive to changes than we are. Since their entire world has just been turned upside down, it’s best to avoid any other major changes. Even if you had decided that you were going to tackle potty training or sleep training by this time, let it wait for now. Give it a few more months and revisit it once things have settled. Your kids need stability, and the more major changes they experience right now, the harder it will be on them.
20) Go easy on yourself
Don’t try to be super mom. You are only one person. Mom guilt is a real thing, and it’s HUGE. Try to forgive yourself where you fall short, and just make an effort to do better next time. If you snapped at your kids, apologize and move on. Don’t beat yourself up for every little thing. Don’t try to keep your house spotless. Don’t try to make gourmet meals every night. Wherever it is that you struggle, just give yourself a break. You’re doing your best, Mama!
Becoming a Single Mom is Easier with Support
Don’t try to do this alone. Becoming a single mom may not be something you can avoid, but doing it alone is. Try these tips, and join the community here, and we can get through this together!
I would love to hear from you so I can focus more on your specific needs or questions. Leave a comment below to let me know what your biggest struggle has been while becoming a single mom. What would really help you the most right now? I’m looking forward to hearing from you.