How to be a single mom comes down to a little bit of common sense and a whole lot of intentional parenting. But single moms still have their own unique challenges. Check out these 11 tips to help you become the best single mom you can be.
Would you rather listen to this post? Click below for the Grace for Single Parents podcast.
As a newly single parent, it can take a while to get your feet planted firmly beneath you.
You may feel as though life has thrown you upside down and you’re drowning in custody schedules and bills you never knew existed.
But underneath all the stress is a little person (or people) you’re doing all of this for.
Single moms face unique challenges: custody schedules, co-parenting, exes, limited time with our children, etc. Figuring out how to be the best single mom all boils down to a little bit of common sense and a whole lot of intentional parenting.
Just the fact that you’re reading this article shows your devotion to your children as your number priority.
How to be a Single Mom – 11 Tips to be the Best
Check out these 11 tips to help you become the best single mom you can be.
Don’t Bad-Mouth Your Ex
Keeping your mouth shut about your ex around your children can be difficult, especially if you hear negative talk from your children about you from your ex.
But this is where you must rise to be the better person.
One day your kids will notice this character trait in you. Whether you choose the higher road or lower road, your child is watching.
I grew up in a divorced family. One of my parents never talked negatively about the other, but the other did. As a child, it didn’t make me love one parent more or less than the other, as may have been the intent.
But years later, I still remember those comments and discussions, and I’m left uncertain feelings.
Your words have a lasting impact.
It’s vital for your children to make their own decisions about their parents.
Yes, you may know the other parent’s shortcomings and may even feel like you should warn your children of them. But your children need to form their own decisions about their parents.
If you go the other route, all you will do is make your children resent you — the very opposite of your intent.
Time Alone with Each Child
Spend time alone with each child each day. Yes, I know we often don’t get very much time with our children as is and it may seem difficult at first. But once you start, it will see it is not only doable but completely worth it.
I only see my children for maybe two hours a day on a school day if it isn’t “my day.” They are in a rush before school then get dropped off right before bedtime. Then some weekends, not at all.
I’m sure your experience has similar challenges. But it’s for this reason they need our undivided attention. I found that just 10 minutes can be magical. Fit it in at bedtime, extending bedtime by 10 minutes if necessary.
Time for Yourself
Make time for yourself daily or at a minimum, weekly. Self-care can be just 15 minutes.
Make a list of 50 things you enjoy doing. It can simple things: crafting, taking a bath, a hot shower, reading, walking the dog, sitting outside while you drink your coffee, etc. Keep this list somewhere you can see it every day.
Find something to do from this list daily. Get started now: download a blank template from the Single Mom Toolbox.
Or get more self-care ideas from the passion project series.
Take the Help
I recently heard help is everywhere. We don’t realize it or see it because we are accustomed to saying, “no, thank you.”
For example, when you are at the grocery store and the check out worker asks if they can help take out your groceries and load them into your car. Most likely, you say, No thanks, I got it”. That’s help you just turned down.
Accept help wherever it’s offered and in whatever form. Does someone offer to drop your child off on the way to take their child somewhere? Yes, please.
Someone let you go in front of them in line, pick something up for you, or offer to do their job? Take it.
Maybe someone is just nice. Let them do something nice for you. When things calm down for you, you will repay the favor to another overburdened mom someday.
Accepting help relieves your stress, and you are less likely to take it out at home on your precious ones.
Single Mom Guilt no more
I don’t care if it’s been two months or 2 years; your guilt isn’t serving anyone. It’s certainly not helping you be a good single mom when all your focus is on your guilt.
Letting go of guilt is the most critical thing single moms can quit stressing about.
Any guilt that you might be carrying around due to your divorce or separation is not helping your relationship with your children.
Take that energy and put it into looking for activities you can do with your children. Or ways to make a positive family in this new world you are in – a single parent family.
Your child cares much less about all of that then they do about your love, comfort, and security.
Goals and dreams
Before I became a single parent, I didn’t mess with this goal setting business.
But then I began to realize I had total control over everything in my house now. All this control was both what I’d hope for and overwhelming.
The time I spent with my children quickly became clear to me that I needed to make it intentional time. Although I am the primary caretaker, I still have whole weekends without them. I want those times we are together to count.
As for everything else, I was now in charge of: the house, money, school, etc., if I didn’t have a solid plan, things wouldn’t get done.
Things like mowing the lawn. Or even buying a lawn mower slipped my mind.
If single moms feel out of control in their own lives, then stress quickly follows.
Naturally, you’ll want to vent to someone, but as a single parent, we don’t have a partner at home to vent to. So, we bottle things up inside and our kids, unfortunately, fall onto our cranky side.
If your goal is to be a good mom, you’ll need to break it down from there and get more specific and actionable. Set aside about a half hour to think about how you want your life to look.
For worksheets to guide you through the goal-setting process, download them from the Single Mom Toolbox today.
A reliable support system can be hard to find. Some single moms do not have family nearby. And even if you do you may not want to call on them.
Plus making friends as a single mom can be difficult. It can be an isolating experience for quite a few years.
But your support system doesn’t have to be a best friend or your sister. It can be the neighbor next door you call on when you need to make a 20-minute run to the store or need a 10-minute sanity break.
This post contains affiliate links.
Children as Sounding Boards
Being a single parent can be a lonely experience. At times you may be tempted to talk to your children, especially teenaged children, as friends. However, they are still children, and your priority is to be their parent. Not their friend.
When my parents divorced, one of my parents told me problems that were adult problems. My teenaged brain could not process what to do with this information. It’s simply not fair to children for an adult to use children to “vent.”
The book, “Boundaries with Kids“ has excellent advice on this very subject, regardless of how old your children are.
RoutineS for you
Find a routine that works for you. Your routine as a single parent family is going to be different than all the traditional family advice you see. You have a completely different schedule which most likely revolves around your ex, a custody schedule and possibly even favors from family members who watch your children.
The sooner you accept this, the easier it’ll be for you.
When it comes to your family’s routine, it’s essential you don’t look at what others are doing.
What makes your family happy, and what works for you? My kids rarely slept in their own beds until they hit their teenage years. I didn’t care what “traditional” advice said. They were happy, secure, and we did the best we could.
You must find a routine that works for you.
Related: Single Mom Morning Routine that Works
Let the Little Things Go
There’s so much we can all work on to let go. But here I’m referring to the little things our kids do.
Think about how often we tell our children “no” to things simply because it annoys us or we don’t think it should be done.
There’s no immediate threat to your child’s safety, or it won’t make them grow up to be a monster if they run through the sprinkler when you’re out for a walk, if she crab walks instead of walks upright to the dinner table, or digs for worms right after a bath.
I don’t know what silly things you say no to. But all it does it stop your child from being a child and raise your irritability because most likely you have to say no multiple times.
Relax and ask yourself if it really matters. Kids are washable and need to get their energy out physically, instead of emotionally – on you.
We’ve all seen that mom at the PTA or the old high school friend who keeps posting those pictures. She looks happy all the time, perfect kids, and of course, happily married.
Instead, turn her off. Turn off all of your triggers in this area. Turn off Facebook, or hide all the “happily, married moms” if you need to.
Of course, we know in our head that their lives aren’t all fairies and cupcakes. That image is only what they chose to show the world. But if hiding others from your social media feed is what you need to do to protect your heart, then by all means.
mind shift challenge for your Single Mom Journey
Join the 21-day single mom Mindset challenge for single moms. Each day you walk through small, actionable tips that build up to make a difference in your life.