I became a mom at 17 and a mother of two at 19. Of course the relationship I thought would last forever, didn’t (surprised?) and I became a single mom when my youngest daughter was around 3. Becoming a mother at such a young age was rough to say the least but I wouldn’t take it back for the world. I’ve been a mom for almost half my life and I’ve learned some great lessons along the way. Here’s some advice I have for single mothers that I’ve learned on my journey.
Don’t Neglect YOU!
Make sure you make time for yourself. Trust me, I know that is easier said than done when you’re a single mother. If you do not have a break from your kids, my advice is to wake up earlier. Yeah it’s hard at first, but it truly changed my life. Even now that my kids are older (11 and 13), I still need that time for myself. That’s the time I exercise, read, take care of my skin and just breathe before the day starts. Honestly, I actually have more energy and I’m in a much better mood when I wake up earlier. If you do have shared custody or a break from your kids, enjoy it! I know many of us use that time to get things done, but remember it is okay to do things just for you too!
Find Your Tribe and Ask for Help
Being a mother is so rewarding, but it’s also the most difficult job we’ll ever have. I truly don’t believe it was meant to be done alone. I’m fortunate to have a small group of friends since high school who I can talk to about anything and everything. When I’ve had rough times they’ve even taken my kids for the weekend. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have done it without them. Whether I need parenting advice, encouragement or just drinks and adult conversation, having that community has made being a parent sooo much easier. Lean on family and friends if and when you can and be open to support. It is okay to ask for help.
I remember when my oldest daughter, Areli cut Skylar’s hair. I think Areli was 4 at the time. It was horrible! She was very proud of her cutting skills though. What made it worse were the people who made me feel like I was the worst mother ever. “How could you let that happen?!” “Why weren’t you watching them?!”. I was 20 years old at the time and everything anyone said affected me when it came to parenting. One day, not long after that incident I came across a Facebook post. A mom shared a video of the haircut her son gave her daughter. I started reading the comments of people sharing similar stories. I realized they are KIDS and sometimes things happen! Of course, we NEVER want something like that to happen, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Her hair grew back and life went on!
Outsource It if You Can Afford to
If you can afford to take something off your plate, do it! Instacart has made my life so much easier! I wish it was around when my kids were younger. Honestly, the first time I used this service I felt a little guilty about spending the extra money, but I’m over that! Going to the grocery store might seem like a small task for some. But when you’re a single parent, working, cooking and cleaning, on top of raising children on your own, taking the “small task” off your plate is HUGE. Whatever you can do do make life a little easier, do it! Even if it’s once a month. And don’t ever feel guilty about it!
STOP comparing yourself to other moms
I didn’t attend PTA meetings and I couldn’t chaperone field trips. For most of my daughters’ lives I wasn’t making much money and every hour counted. I also never turned down overtime. I was the sole financial provider for my kids and I was working to give my daughters the best life possible. Still, I always looked at other mothers and felt like they were so much better than me. After talking to some of those moms I realized they feel the same way I did. Many of them felt like they should be doing more. I do believe be should always strive to be better and yes, we can look to others for inspiration. But, don’t put yourself down because you’re not what others appear to be. We’re all on very different journeys. Just keep doing the best you can. That’s what it’s all about.
Accept What Is
I used to see families out at the park, restaurants or just taking a walk together in the neighborhood and feel sad and a little jealous. Not just that, I felt like I failed myself and my daughters. I wanted them to have a father, I wanted a two-parent household. Of course I did. Being a single mother may not have been what you envisioned or wanted for yourself or your kids. But just remember to keep looking forward. There is no cookie-cutter definition of a family. You and your kids are a family.
Spend Quality Time with Your Kids
Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and just enjoy my kids. It’s not that I don’t want to. I think that we’re with our kids so much that we don’t realize we’re not enjoying them as much as we could be. When I’m really busy sometimes it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or having them help me with dinner. My daughter turned 13 a few weeks ago and that still sounds so crazy to me! Our time with them goes by so fast… too fast. Sometimes we have to just take a step back from all the chaos and enjoy our time with them as much as we can.
Remember, it takes an insane level of courage, strength, patience and resilience to be a single mother.
Just find your tribe, don’t be so hard on yourself and enjoy this experience as much as you can.
What’s some advice you could offer a single mother?
What’s the best parenting advice someone has shared with you?
Please comment below.
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Thanks for reading!