You’re a single mom. You deserve accolades for doing it all in order to raise your children.
But doing it all by yourself can be a huge source of stress.
A happy, functioning mom is the best foundation for healthy, well-adjusted kids. Here are some suggestions on how to get the help you need.
- Don’t Forget Family and Friends
If you have access to family and friends, don’t be shy about relying on them.
If you and your children need a place to stay after your split, ask your parents if you can stay with them until you find other accommodations. If you need childcare in a pinch, ask your sister if she can watch your kids. Later, you can return the favor for her.
If your child’s father is not in the picture, the most important thing your family and friends can provide is good male role models. Let them see you relate with good male platonic friends. Have your brother go to father-son outings, like Boy Scout excursions or father-daughter dances. Cheer for your kids at their soccer games with your father.
You’re not imposing on them. And this will strengthen the bonds between your kids and your village.
- Network With Other Single Moms in Person and Online
It’s always a good thing to interact with other single moms. They share the same joys and struggles that you have. You can connect with them in ways you can’t with parents who have partners.
Play dates with other single moms will not only be enjoyable for your child, but you’ll have someone you can commiserate with and share single mom tips.
One thing that can disappear with single motherhood is alone time. But we all need time to ground ourselves, whether it’s going to a yoga class, seeing a movie not directed at kids or a taking a dance class. Make a plan that you and your single mom friends can provide each other with a reprieve by watching each other’s kids.
An additional option is to share with other single moms online. You can get different perspectives and new ideas from single mothers locally and across the country.
- Take Advantage of Your Job’s Child and Family Assistance
Most employers offer some type of family assistance. Onsite child care, money to supplement child care costs, paid family leave are some of the usual benefits, in addition to family-coverage health insurance and supplemented life and disability insurance. Use whatever your company offers.
Another thing your employer can assist you with is your work schedule. Instead of stressing about how to juggle day care with school start times and be on time for work, ask if you can modify your hours. If you ask for a set change, like taking a half-hour at the same time every day to pick up your child from school and drop them at your parents’, most employers will work with you. Or you can ask to work remotely.
If your employer isn’t flexible, consider a work from home position. True, a lot of these jobs offer low pay. But if your current position is in management, there are high-paying opportunities you can pursue. You’ll find postings for these on reputable job sites. Also check out professional organization, sorority and alumni online bulletin boards.
- Use All Available Health Care Resources for Your Child and Yourself
Even with health insurance, health care for you and your children can still be expensive. If you’re a mother of children under 5 years-old, or pregnant, and fall within certain income guidelines, there are programs that will keep you and your children well.
Remember, you need to stay healthy to care for your kids. Make sure you both get regular check-ups, immunizations, eat healthy and exercise.
Most cities have farmer’s markets where you can by affordable, locally grown, fruits and vegetables. Government and charity programs can help cover food costs if you qualify.
Exercise, besides keeping you fit, is a great stress reliever. Do something easy and free, like walk in the park with your kids. Exposure to nature can relieve stress. Need to work out indoors? If you’re on a budget, sign up with your local YMCA. Or, if you can afford it, join a gym. The Y and most gyms have separate areas where children can play or work out while their parents do their own.
- Apply for Scholarships and Grants for Single Moms
Just because you’re a busy mom, doesn’t mean you should no longer follow your dreams. If you want to further your education, there are scholarships and grants designated specifically for single mothers.
Whether this is your first attempt at an undergraduate degree, or if you want to get your graduate or Ph.D., there are federal and institutional funds available. Private organizations, including foundations, professional groups and civic associations, also provide monies for education.
And if you’re still paying back student loans, you should see if you qualify for debt relief for single mothers. The Federal Government offers loan consolidation and loan forgiveness programs.
- Seek Community and Government Financial Assistance
It’s tough running a single-salary household. But there are plenty of resources to help you.
Housing assistance consists of everything from government rental assistance to low-income housing to resources to help purchase a home. Section 8 housing, USDA Rural Development Housing Assistance, HUD homes and Habitat for Humanity are just some of the programs available.
If you’re behind in your utility bills — electric, heat or water — you can receive aid from the government, private charities, even the utility companies. Seek help before you’re in danger of having services cut-off.
For government assistance, you’ll usually need to go to your city or county social service offices. They can also refer you to non-government organizations, or you can search for those online.
- Participate in Kid-Friendly Free or Low-Cost Leisure Activities
It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns, particularly if you’re barely getting-by financially. Breaking free of the monotony to do fun activities is good and necessary for your children — and for you.
You can do so without breaking the budget. Roam around free public museums. Visit inexpensive petting zoos. Libraries, book and craft stores offer free interactive events for kids. Plenty of local governments hold free spring and summer outdoor concerts.
Hopefully, these tips will ease your journey as a single mom!