Becoming a single mom can be scary and overwhelming. These tips will help you cope as a single mom and learn to thrive!
I remember all the hard scary feelings I felt when I first became a single mom after my divorce. Not only was it hard in a practical sense, but also emotionally. I felt so many feelings, fear, guilt, frustration, anger, sadness.
Even though in the depth of my heart I knew I would be ok, this deep, underlying sense was often covered by the other difficult emotions and the high stress I had at the time because of the change in circumstances.
I want you to know that you absolutely can make it through and thrive! Here are some specific things that I did my first year as a single mom that helped me adjust and make a new, secure life for myself and my daughters – things you can do too!
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How to cope as single mom
Build a support network
When I first became a single mom, I personally found it difficult to overcome shame. I (wrongly) felt ashamed for some reason, but I knew I couldn’t manage without some help (especially since my 2 girls were under age 5 at the time).
Thankfully, I already had a good, close network of friends and family to support me. Not only were they emotionally supportive, but people offered free babysitting, help with groceries, and gave clothes and toys to my girls.
You will need a supportive community of friends or family.
Make a list of friends and family you can count on to help you, especially people who have already offered to help.
Accept all offers of help!
When someone asks what they can do to help, give them some ideas and let them help! Post the list somewhere prominent and when you need help – ask!
If you really do not have anyone, reach out and make new friends and work to build up your support network. You might have to find or make your own community.
There are so many ways to find connections:
- Facebook groups – search on Facebook for a local single mom’s group (or make your own!)
- divorce or single mom support group
- local community centers
- library groups
- search on Facebook for a local single mom’s group (or make your own!)
Having a community will help you, so:
- you don’t feel alone
- have support and encouragement
- something to look forward to – an outlet
- you can connect with others who understand your situation
Make time for yourself
This is absolutely crucial! Make sure to set aside time to regularly be by yourself. Even if you can’t afford a babysitter or can’t get out by yourself often, make time to sit and relax. I do this when my kids are in bed.
Small self-care ideas like:
- take a bubble bath – Epsom salts are great!
- read a good book – this one is GREAT
- have a cup of tea – this is my favorite!
- watch your favorite show – this one is the best and also this one
- write in a journal – like a gratitude journal (and check out the scientific benefits of having a spirit of gratitude!)
- (and yes, let the housework go!)
Or treat yourself to one of these great gift ideas for single moms!
Take care of yourself
Be sure to take care of your physical health. Not only will your children see you setting a good example, but as a single mom, you need energy and rest in order to care for them and manage your life.
You need to:
- Eat healthy foods.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Find ways to relax and relieve stress.
Related: Easy Meal Planning Tips
Divorce (and just being a single mom!) can be very messy and difficult, not to mention emotionally draining. Give yourself time to process your emotions and adjust to your new life. Becoming a single mom is hard and there will be a lot to process.
It’s ok to cry, be angry or upset, and grieve. Allow yourself to time to feel and process your emotions. A good therapist can be very helpful.
Work hard to develop a positive attitude (and surround yourself with positive and supportive people).
When I was going through my divorce and struggled with hard emotions and difficult situations, I printed out several inspiring quotes and messages and posted them around the house so I could read them daily. It might sound silly, but I found it very helpful!
I also frequently repeated positive messages to myself – mostly simple ones like, I’m going to be ok, or I’m going to keep moving forward, over and over until I believed it.
Stay away from people who are judgmental or negative or look down on you.
Be present to your kids
If you are finding it hard to cope as a new single mom, your kids will also be having a hard time adjusting as well. Make time to be present to your kids (not all day every day, but have concrete moments where you connect daily with each child).
My girls and I always have special time reading books and chatting each night before bed and they both love it. We also schedule small activities each week that they enjoy (trips to the library or the park, for example).
Be sure to talk to and listen to your kids and help them understand the situation and their own emotions.
Get on top of your finances
Make a plan to get your finances in order! Do not stress about being far from that at this point. This is especially important if you were not working (or only working part-time) prior to becoming a single mom.
If you need food or government assistance, don’t be ashamed to get help until you can get on your feet.
Start by making a few serious goals and finding ways to:
- Cut costs (to save more money)
- Make more money
- ask for a raise
- get a better job
- find a good side hustle
I really enjoyed this financial book (easy to read and understand):
Related: Easy side hustles for single moms
Be positive and grateful
On top of everything, be positive and practice gratitude.
Find 3 things to be thankful for each day. (Check here for the scientific benefits of having a grateful attitude!)
On the hardest days, I would count even the smallest things: having a home to live in, clothes to wear, and food to eat.
And I always felt grateful for my 2 lovely daughters.
Forcing myself to think positively about the future kept me feeling confident.
Lastly, take one day at a time.
I used to worry a lot about the future with thoughts like: What will happen next year? What if this or that happens to me or my kids?
Now I try hard to focus on just the next thing that needs to get done and when that is finished, then the next. There is a lot of truth to the old saying that most of what we worry about never happens.
Don’t waste time worrying about what might happen next year (or next month).
Do what you can and have to do today and leave tomorrow until tomorrow. Focus on what you can do.
As I’m typing this I’m watching Criminal Minds and they quoted Eleanor Roosevelt as saying:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Being a single mom is hard and scary, but not the end of the world. You can do this! Be brave and courageous. During your first year as a single mom make sure to take care of yourself and your kids, find a good support system, make a solid plan for your finances, and find concrete things for which you are positive and grateful! Is there anything you would add? What helped you cope as a single mom?