How to be a successful single mother never crossed my mind because I was in a happy marriage, or so I thought. But, then, I married my college sweetheart, and looking back now, there were a lot of red flags, but I couldn’t see them because I was a woman in love.
When our baby was three months old, I discovered he had a child on the way with another woman who was seven months along. This meant he cheated on me while I was pregnant – a time when I was vulnerable and sometimes felt undesirable – I was shattered. When I learned that the affair had been going on for three years, trust flew out of the window. We tried therapy, but I couldn’t get over it. Divorce was the only option at this point. So when my baby was four months old, I became a single mom.
Your story might be different. Maybe you got tired of waiting for Mr. Right and decided to start a family on your own through Vitro fertilization (IVF), adopted a child, got pregnant out of wedlock, or your spouse died. Regardless of how it happened, there are many single mom success stories, and yours can be another.
Let’s look at how to be a successful single mother.
Can a single mom raise a successful child?
I won’t lie to you – it’s hard being a single mother, and if you’ve been on this journey for a while, you already understand this. But, the great news is that you can be a happy single mum and raise a successful child. So, keep reading to get the tips for single moms in this article.
Statistics show approximately 11 million families (in the United States) with single parents who have kids below 18, and single moms run 80% of these families. This shows that single mothers bring up the majority of children from single families.
According to the New York Post, children raised by single parents are just as successful as their mates raised by both parents. Of course, some factors can make it challenging to raise a successful child, and a great example is finances. Where both parents are present and contribute financially towards a child’s education, they can study up to the level they want. As a single mother, the whole responsibility may fall on you if the dad isn’t chipping in, which can make it difficult for your child to pursue high education – but it is possible.
The most important thing a child needs is a kind of warm, understanding, and nurturing parenting; you can provide this alone or with a partner. When you also learn how to survive financially as a single mom, you’ll be able to give them the resources they need to excel in life.
Challenges single moms face
I cannot leave out the challenges when discussing how to be a successful single mother because it’s not all rosy. Below are some of the hardships single moms face when raising their children. However, it’s important to note that you may not encounter all of these challenges.
Feeling like you are alone.
When you are raising children) with your partner, you have someone to offer you emotional support when you’ve had a bad day. They can take care of the kids as you have a moment to yourself or offer you words of encouragement. When you are a single mom living alone, you may not have this option especially if you don’t have friends or family living nearby.
If you are separated or divorced, it’s normal to feel a gap that was initially filled by your partner. You may even struggle with knowing who you are without them.
Additionally, on days when the dad has the kids (if you’re co-parenting), you may also get lonely since you have gotten used to having them around.
Disciplining the kids
Children react differently to not having one parent around especially if they grew up seeing them. Some may act out and become indisciplined in order to get your attention or that of the absent father.
Knowing how to discipline them especially if you know their behavior is caused by the emotional stress of your separation can be challenging because if you approach it the wrong way, you might make things worse.
It is possible to experience financial problems although every single mother’s case is different. Some receive child support which helps to lighten the financial load, while others are still struggling to pay legal fees for their divorce and may not have much left. At some point, many single moms become the breadwinners and have to take care of almost all financial responsibilities.
This situation can be hard and the weight of financial troubles varies depending on how many children you have to take care of. For example, a single mom of 4 most likely has more financial obligations than a single mom with 2 babies.
Doubting yourself and feeling guilty
I can’t tell you the number of times I asked myself whether I could really raise a child on my own. Self-doubt is a real thing for single mothers and the sad part is that you may not have anyone telling you that you are doing a great job – which you are.
You may also feel guilty for ‘not sticking it out’ so your children could grow up in a home with both parents, even if you know you made the right decision for you and them. We’ll look at how to handle this guilt later on.
Being judged by society
Society is not kind to single mothers, even if they were not the cause of the separation. People may judge you for leaving, not working hard enough to keep your marriage, or choosing to raise a child alone.
Society may even blame you for your child’s mistakes or automatically expect them to turn out horribly. Married women may think you are out to get their husbands and the men may assume you are a loose woman just because you are a single mom. In some countries, you may not be invited to social events. The list is endless.
The good thing about not expecting to be celebrated by society is that it will free you and allow you to live your life the way you deem fit instead of trying to please people and being miserable.
Tips on how to be a successful single mother
I hope the challenges discussed above have not scared you but instead prepared you for the journey ahead. So, let’s look at how to be a successful single mother – because you can do it.
Get a support team together
You might be surprised to see this as the first point because you might be thinking you are alone and you have to do this by yourself but you don’t. This is especially important if you have an infant and want to know how to be a single mom with a newborn.
A support team consists of a person or persons that you can call upon when you need emotional support when you’re stressed, when you have a million errands to run when you need to take a nap to regain your sanity or even someone who can make you laugh when you feel like your world is crumbling.
Research shows that when parents have a support system, it’s easy for them to provide the caring and healthy environment a baby needs. This happens because you’ll have the space and time to take better care of yourself and allow your child to be nurtured by those you value.
Your support team can be your family (immediate and extended), friends, co-workers, or community (when you’re part of organizations that support women, single moms, and so on). Even a nanny or babysitter can be part of your support team because you can call upon them to help you with the baby.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. Even the people you turn to know that it truly takes a village to raise a child.
If you need to take a walk to clear your head, let someone watch your child for a while and do that (this can even be a trusted neighbor). If you are too exhausted and you can afford to hire someone to clean the house, do that.
Let your children help
Wondering how to be a single mom with no help? Let your children chip in where they can.
It is normal for us to want to do everything for our children because we love them so much and we don’t want to see them struggle. While this comes from a good place, it doesn’t equip them to be self-reliant and leaves you to handle everything which is the first step to becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
The type of chores/tasks your kids can handle should be in line with their age. For example, it is easy for a toddler to pick up their toys after they are done playing or take their plate to the kitchen. If they are old enough to dress or feed themselves, let them do it. You’ll then be left with tasks that only you or another adult can perform.
Make sound financial decisions
How do single moms survive financially? By making more financially sound decisions. Let’s say you get a promotion or are sent on a one-week work trip? What should you do? Your first instinct is to say no because you feel like that will take away more time from your child. That is the mom’s guilt creeping up. I know because I’ve been there.
I would advise you to seize the opportunity then sit down with your children and explain that mommy loves them and would love to spend every minute with them but she has to work to create a better future for them. You can then carve out more quality time for them before this huge change and then bring in your support team (that we talked about) to help you.
Once you learn how to work from home with a baby, things will be better. You won’t worry about money and will be able to provide your children with the education and anything they need.
This may be the time to research things like how to be a single stay-at-home mom. Maybe you want to work from home so you can be close to your babies, maybe you can’t afford a sitter, or maybe you can do your work from anywhere. No matter your reasons, you can get jobs like being a freelance writer, virtual assistant, graphic designer, web designer, blogger, or social media manager that enables you to work from home and pay your bills. Just figure out what you want to do and research on how to go about it.
Other financially sound decisions you can make include setting up an emergency fund, having your medical insurance up to date, increasing your savings, and so on. It is wise to take your children along this journey by explaining to them the importance of money and why you will be spending less on some things for the next coming months or years.
This is a tough one because when mom guilt creeps in, we tend to give our kids whatever they want to make up for how bad we feel that they are not growing up with two parents. That brings me to the next point.
Get rid of mom guilt
There’s a lot of guilt that comes with being a single mom. You may blame yourself for the role you played in the separation from your kid’s father. You may feel guilty for not being able to provide the same lifestyle your children enjoyed when you were with your partner. Your guilt may come from not spending as much time with them after becoming a single mother.
There’s a lot of guilt to go around but IT DOESN’T HELP YOU WITH ANYTHING. Instead, it can lead you to make terrible decisions like over spoiling your kids in an attempt to make up for what you feel is lacking. That’s why it’s time to let it go.
You can do this by making peace with your past. Whatever happened is in the past and you can only learn from it and move forward. If you need to seek professional help (like therapy), don’t be ashamed to do it.
Identify male role models for your kids
The fact that your children’s father is not in their lives doesn’t mean they can’t have other role models. There must be male figures around whom you admire and from whom your child or children can learn good morals.
You can point out their positive attributes or achievements to your kids or let them spend time with these inspirational role models. As difficult as this may be at times, avoid saying negative things about their father or other men. This will let your kids know that you don’t hate men and men are not bad, that anyone can be good or bad because of their behavior and not gender.
When you do this, they’ll learn a lot from these role models and understand how to create positive and healthy relationships with people of the opposite sex.
It is advisable to choose male role models you don’t have a romantic connection with, especially in the beginning because your children might think you’re trying to replace their father when they haven’t fully dealt with losing him.
A key tip on how to be a successful single mother is to take care of yourself. I’ve touched on the importance of taking care of yourself while talking about creating a support system but I’ll emphasize it. When you practice self-care, you’ll avoid getting burnt out, you’ll be a better mom to your kids and a better version of yourself.
Examples of ways you can practice self-care include enjoying nature, journaling, trying out a new recipe, dancing, getting a massage, hugging yourself, giving yourself a lazy day where you don’t do anything, and so on. If you are expectant while reading this then you can learn how to dress for pregnancy without maternity clothes because it will boost your confidence and save you some money.
If you don’t have a lot of spare time, you can check out self-care tips for busy single moms.
Parenting is already challenging enough but when you are alone, it’s twice as hard. However, when you are equipped with information on how to be a successful single mother, you can do it. The tips for single moms I’ve mentioned here like taking good care of yourself, making sound financial decisions, having a support team, and letting go of mom guilt will help you know how to survive as a single mom. I wish you all the best on your journey.
Hi – I’m Alina and I am a soon to be mom going through the journey of becoming a parent. I am a writer at heart and I love sharing about pregnancy tips and other busy mom hacks.