Most parents didn’t plan to raise their children alone. They ultimately want their children to be raised in a two-parent household where they can get the all-around love, attention, and care they need. Unfortunately, however, this happy ending doesn’t always come true for every family. When a household is torn apart by a breakup or divorce, in many instances, the mother takes on a brunt of the responsibility of caring for their children.
There’s a Lot on Your Plate
Even with a cooperative co-parenting relationship, the stresses of being a single mother are plentiful. As if being a working wife and mother weren’t stressful, you now have to learn how to adjust your life and the lives of your children. Dealing with the guilt, fear, financial strain, lack of socialization, and pent-up emotions of the breakup can feel unbearable. It has even been known to trigger anxiety, depression, and reckless behavior like opioid abuse in young women. The best way to ensure this doesn’t consume you is to pinpoint your concerns and develop logical ways of dealing with them.
One of the biggest changes to deal with after a divorce is the finances. What used to be a two-income household has now become one, leaving you to foot the brunt of the costs of caring for your children. Though you can’t force your ex-spouse to pay you more and you can’t make money appear out of the sky, there are some things you can do to minimize the stress of finances:
- Downsize to a more affordable home
- Create a budget and eliminate unnecessary spending
- If your income is extremely low, look for government assistance for women with children
Fear of Going it Alone
Will you be able to give the children what they need on your own? Parenting is difficult with a partner, so the fear of doing it without them (on a full-time basis) can be stressful. Wondering if you’ll make the right decisions, hoping you’re tending to their needs, and other fears are common but can be reduced by doing the following:
- Work with your ex and not against them (meaning contact them to get advice, value their input, and build a solid co-parenting relationship)
- Look to others who care for your children like family members, teachers, coaches, and mentors.
- Get support from other parents you may know who have similar parenting styles or values to your own.
Lost Sense of Self
When you’re a single mother, time is something you just don’t have much of. You spend a bulk of your time caring for the kids, working, and tending to the house. This leaves little to no room for you to focus on yourself. Though you may need to put your children’s needs first at the beginning of a separation or divorce, it is imperative not to forget about yourself. Finding the balance between being a woman and a mother will only improve things at home and give you a sense of peace with moving on.
- Ask family to babysit while you go out. If you’re not going out every day of the week, they shouldn’t have a problem with keeping the kids while you enjoy yourself. If not, consider hiring a babysitter such as a teenager you trust from the neighborhood as it can be more affordable.
- Find functions that are family-friendly or have designated areas for children so you can hang with your friends.
- Practice self-care including getting good sleep, pampering yourself, exercising, eating right, and doing things you love. You might also try something new like going back to school or taking up a new hobby.
Being a single mother is no joke. It requires you to put all of your energy into making sure that your kids have the best childhood possible. Though you may be doing a bulk of the work on your own, there are ways to simplify your life. Start by talking with your network of support (including your ex), and then create a plan that effectively allows you to raise your children without forgetting to care for yourself.