As a single mom of two kids, I understand how tough and stressful it is to parent alone. Want to know five of the most common single mom struggles and how to navigate them?
In this post, I will share five of the most common challenges many single moms struggle with, and some tips to help you deal with them.
This post may contain affiliate links. Which means if you purchase anything using my link I may receive a small commission.
5 CHALLENGES SINGLE MOMS FACE AND HOW TO NAVIGATE THEM
1. FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES FOR SINGLE PARENTS
Financial problems in single-parent homes is very common. Transitioning from a two-income family to a one-income family requires a big adjustment and can be very difficult to do.
Many single moms don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Some struggle with debt, saving, budgeting and other financial problems.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for this problem. If you are dealing with financial problems, the only way out is to take an inventory of your financial situation and create a plan to improve your finances.
If you’re a single mom who’s struggling financially, here are some tips to help you improve your finances:
FINANCIAL TIPS FOR SINGLE MOTHERS:
1. Get rid of debt
It’s hard to get ahead financially if you keep using part of your income to service debt. If you’re struggling with debt, then it’s time to create a debt-repayment plan and get rid off as much debt as you can.
2. Create a budget
One of the reasons many single moms struggle financially is because they have no idea where their income goes each month, or how to manage their finances.
Getting back on the right track financially means you have to curb unnecessary spending as much as possible.
Some effective budgeting tips include: prioritizing essentials like food, shelter, and basic utilities like electricity and gas, reducing or eliminating non-essential spending and tracking your spending.
3. Build an emergency fund.
Get into the habit of saving money every time you get paid. It doesn’t matter how little it is.You need an emergency fund to weather the storm when you have a financial emergency.
4. Avoid using expensive credit
Avoid using expensive credit like payday loans, cash advances from credit cards etc.
5. Increase your earnings.
The best way to make ends meet or get ahead financially is to increase your income. There’s a big difference between earning minimum wage and $30 an hour. Figure out a way to earn extra money or increase your salary at your current job.
If you’re a single mom who’s struggling financially, check out the following related posts:
2. FINDING ADEQUATE AND AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE
One of the things single moms struggle with is finding affordable and adequate childcare.
Some years ago, I had to work the night shift because it was the only thing that was available. It was very stressful for me and my kids.
Finding overnight childcare is hard and can be expensive! I assumed it would be cheaper than daytime care because the kids would be sleeping and wouldn’t be a lot of work, but I was wrong.
If you don’t have family or close friends around, finding reliable and affordable childcare can easily become a nightmare.
This is one of the reasons some single moms can only work part-time because they can’t afford to pay for child care full time.
Many single moms can’t afford to take time off when they are sick, or to take care of their sick kids because of fear of losing their job or earning less money.
This causes a lot of emotional and psychological problems for many single mothers.
Since a lot of single moms have low-paying jobs with inflexible schedules, it’s very important to get creative and be open to non-traditional methods when looking for child care.
HOW TO FIND SAFE, RELIABLE AND AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE
I have used both licensed and unlicensed childcare providers successfully. The key is to find the right provider for your children.
I use mostly family child care providers because I find them to be more flexible and affordable.
If you’re looking for a licensed provider, the best place to start is your state’s online directory of licensed providers. If you are in the United States and live in Maryland, check out LOCATE: CHILD CARE.
If you live in Virginia, a good place to start is the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Before choosing a child care provider, here are some things to think about and some helpful tips:
- Do they accept child care subsidy?
- Are they flexible? Can you pay daily instead of weekly if you only need child care a few days a week?
- Do they charge for late pickup? If so how much and when does that kick in?
- Do they offer sibling discount? Or different prices depending on the ages of the kids?
- Can you drop off your kids early if required?
- How many kids do they have at the center?
- Do they have pets?
- Do they have any special training or qualifications?
- Do they take and pick up kids from the bus stop?
- What’s the distance from your home? If you use public transportation, how easy is it to get to the daycare center?
These are just some of the questions I asked myself before choosing a childcare provider.
Choosing a provider is one of the most important decisions you can make as a mom, so it’s very important that you make the right choice.
Regardless of whether a childcare provider is licensed or not, you still have to meet with them, assess them and judge for yourself.
I visited a few childcare providers before I made a decision. Take note of how they interact with your kids, how clean the home is, and whatever else is important to you.
You can also ask for recommendations from friends, family, coworkers etc. But it’s still up to you to make a decision. I once had a bad experience with a childcare provider that a friend recommended to me.
I didn’t blame my friend because she had nothing to do with it, but my point is, there are no guarantees. You just have to trust your judgment and hope for the best.
Finding affordable childcare can be challenging. It’s also a bit hard to qualify for the child care subsidy program because some states have very low income threshold for eligibility.
However, if you need help paying for childcare so you can work or attend college, it’s worth looking into.
Don’t forget to have a backup plan for contingencies—like a sick child (if it is not a serious condition).
Find people that would be willing to help you pick up your kids from if you’re running late so you can avoid late pick up fees.
Shop around for affordable and flexible childcare. Look for providers who offer daily/part-time charges as opposed to weekly charges. You can save some money this way,
If you can, swap childcare duties with other moms in your neighborhood. Ask family members or friends for help and offer to pay them.
Make use of before and after school care/programs if you have access to them.
There are so many options out there. You just need to do some research to find something that works for you.
For more tips and ideas check out 7 Child Care Issue Single Parents Face.
3. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR SINGLE MOMS
When you’re a single mom, finding the time to do everything feels like an uphill battle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the reasons many single moms struggle with time management is, they are disorganized, lack goals and focus on the wrong activities.
As a single mom with limited time, you have to be ruthless with how and what you spend your time on.
Don’t try to do everything or please everyone because you will end up stressed, tired and unhappy.
If you’re struggling with time management, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What do you value/what are your priorities?
- What are your goals (financial, career, family/parenting, health, educational, emotional etc)?
- What do you spend most of your time doing?
- Are you spending too much time on social media, commuting to work, sleeping, watching TV, or just idling away?
- Are you focusing on the right activities?
- What percentage of your daily activities is directly improving your life?
- Are your daily activities helping you meet your goals?
Many moms complain that they don’t have enough time to do the things they really want. But that’s not always true.
If you take the time to reflect on how you spend your day, chances are you will discover areas where you are frittering away time, or some activities you can get rid of.
One of the best ways to manage your time is to streamline your activities.
When you have to juggle many responsibilities, you have to be intentional about what you actually spend your time on.
Here are some tips to help you manage your time well.
TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR SINGLE MOMS
1. Learn to Say No
When you are a single mom with no help, learning to say no is crucial to your well being.
Before you say yes to someone else, or to running that activity or taking on that extra task, ask yourself if you really have time to commit to that activity or to take on more responsibility.
Don’t be afraid to say no to your boss if you can’t put in extra hours because of a prior commitment, or no to your kids if they want to sign up for one more extracurricular activity or team.
2. Set Goals and Know Your Priorities
As a single mom, you need to set goals for each season and know your priorities.
When you set goals, it allows you to prioritize some activities over others.
For example, if your goal is to increase your income, you will focus on income-generating activities. If you’re trying to earn a college degree, having a pristine home shouldn’t be a priority for you.
Finding the time to do the things you want means you have to be flexible and willing to compromise.
Always think about the trade offs. For example, staying up late to watch tennis matches mean less time for rest. waking up late and probably feeling rushed and frazzled! Am I going to be happy afterward?
Saying yes to organizing the church fair may mean less time for my family and income-generating activities.Will I feel satisfied or resentful afterwards?
Maybe for you it isn’t staying up late to watch tennis matches or organizing the church fair but something else. Whatever it is, think of what you’re giving up to spend time on something else.
Note that I am not saying you have to live a selfish or self-absorbed life where you only think of your needs. But far too many moms focus on others without thinking of themselves.
It’s all about finding balance.
3. Plan and Schedule Your Activities
One of the best ways to get the most of your time is to plan and schedule your activities. You can use a planner and a calendar to keep track of the things you need to do and when you need to do them.
I find that the best way to get things done is to create a to-do list, then schedule the tasks (daily or weekly).
The first thing you need is to do is to learn how long it really takes you to do routine tasks and chores like getting ready in the morning, meal planning, commuting to work, getting the kids up and dressed for school, laundry, grocery shopping etc.
Once you have this information, you can see which tasks are taking up a lot of time, the best time to work on a particular task and the tasks you can combine or eliminate.
This will help you to organize your daily or weekly schedule. Before planning your daily or weekly schedule, consider how much time and energy you have available.
Be realistic with your expectations and focus on the most important things first.
There’s no perfect system when it comes to time management, you just have to figure out what works best for you and your family.
If you need some ready-made planners to help you stay organized check out this pretty planner with calendar and inspirational quotes. They are available in different colors.
If you truly want to create your dream life, you have to know how to prioritize across all areas of your life. You must be ruthless about taking care of the important stuff first and letting other things go.
You can’t do everything, but you can choose to do the important things first depending on your goals.
If you’re a single mom who is feeling overwhelmed, try to work on your time management skills.
For some more time management tips for single moms, check out the posts below:
4. PARENTING ISSUES
Single parenting is fraught with many challenges. Lots of single moms struggle with parenting their kids alone.
Being the sole provider and decision maker for your family can be very stressful. You also face a different kind of stress if you co-parent with someone with different values or parenting style.
Learning how to deal with these parenting issues is key to your happiness and peace of mind.
PARENTING ISSUES SINGLE MOMS FACE
1. Spending Time With Your Kids
Many single moms struggle to spend enough time with their kids. Between working multiple jobs, going to school and other parenting responsibilities, it’s hard to spend enough time with your kids.
This is why you need to practice good time management and focus on the things that are most important to you.
Instead of feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your kids, focus on making the time you spend with your kid count.
Let me be honest here. I truly believe the amount of time you spend with your kids is important. But I like to be realistic.
It’s not always possible for me to spend as much time as I’d like with my kids, but I try to do the best that I can.
So, if you’re struggling with this issue, here are some things you can do:
1. Be present when you’re at home with your kids. Which means, don’t get distracted with other things when you’re supposed to be spending time with them. Listen to them, pay attention to them, let them know that you’re there for them.
2. If you have more than one kid, find a way to spend one-on-one time with each of them. This time is a special time for you to bond with each kid. You can ask them what they’d like to do during this time. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.It could be just talking about any challenges they are going through, playing a game with them, reading a story, or watching a movie.
3. Maximize the time you have with your kids. Make good use of the time that you spend with your kids. It may not be easy to spend large chunks of time with your kids, so use every opportunity you have to bond with your kids.
I know all this is easier said than done. Sometimes, my kids have to say something twice or thrice to get my attention because I am lost in my thoughts or focused on something else.
It’s a learning curve. You just need to be intentional and make it a daily practice , then it becomes easier.
It would be nice if your kids were little angels who behave well all the time, don’t throw tantrums, talk back and understand that you are trying your best to be a good mom.
If I had to guess, this is far from your reality. As a single mom, it’s hard to discipline your children by yourself all the time. It’s exhausting!
But you know that you sometimes need to discipline them for their own good and for your sanity!
So how do you go about disciplining your kids to maintain balance and to create a happy home? Here are some tips that I have found very helpful:
1. Be consistent. If you don’t do anything else, this one is very important. For example, don’t let your kids get away with talking back at you one day, and the next day you fly into a rage.
When you don’t discipline your kids consistently, you confuse them because you are sending mixed messages.
I know it’s hard to be consistent when you’re tired and stressed. And these kids know when to try it.
Sometimes, there’s a temptation to let things slide, doing this may lead to bigger problems down the road. Better to address issues as they arise.
2. Set rules and boundaries. Okay, I am not talking about a military-style boot camp here. However, your kids should know or at least understand what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
They should know what the consequences are for their actions (misbehavior, disobedience etc). I am not going to tell you what your rules and boundaries should be.
Every mom/family is different. Your rules should reflect your personal values and beliefs. What is important is that you communicate them to your kids so they know what is expected from them.
3. Pick your battles. If you are one of those moms who think you have to be a superwoman, let me reassure you that you don’t have to be.
One of the challenges of being a single mother is that we think we have to live to other people’s expectations so they don’t judge us or think we are bad moms. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
There’s only one of you so you need to pick your battles. My second child used to be a very picky eater. It used to drive me crazy! After a while, I decided it wasn’t a battle worth fighting.
She’s much better now and of course it’s made eating/cooking a whole lot easier. Some battles are just not worth fighting.
I am not talking of serious issues or things that could be damaging to you or your family. But things like what to wear, body piercings etc may not be worth fighting about. Like I said, it all depends on your values.
4. Model good behavior. It all starts with you. Don’t be one of those parents who tell their kids to act one way, then act in an opposite way.
If you want your kids to respect other people, treat other people with respect. That includes the cashier at your local grocery store, other drivers on the road etc.
Your kids are always watching so you need to set a good example for them.
Sometimes we fall short. Like when I cussed out that woman at the mall. When that happens, apologize to your kids and let them know you were wrong to react the way you did.
While you can’t control how other people act, you can control your reactions. It’s easier to discipline your kids when you consistently model good behavior.
There are so many other parenting issues that single moms face but I wanted to highlight these two because they are two of the most common issues single parents face.
If you’re a Christian mom, I have found the following parenting books to be very helpful:
- Single Moms Raising Sons
- The Shaping of a Christian Family
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- The Ministry of Motherhood
- A Mother’s Heart
There are so many great parenting books out there, but these are some of my favorites. Do check them out if you need some good Christian parenting books.
When it comes to parenting alone, remember not to be too hard on yourself or your kids. Give yourself and your kids grace. Do the best that you can and believe they will turn out alright.
The fifth challenge single moms face is decision making.
5. DECISION MAKING FOR SINGLE MOMS
We all want the best for our kids. However, it is sometimes difficult to know whether or not we are making the right decisions when it comes to our kids.
As a single mom, you have to make decisions like where to live, the best career or job, how to educate your kids, what to feed them, how to keep them safe, where to go on vacation and a ton of other decisions.
It’s no wonder so many single moms feel overwhelmed!
But decision making doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary if you follow a few guidelines
1. Make Important Decisions Only After Proper Research
All decisions are not created equal. Some decisions have little or no impact on your life while some others may bring hardship and regrets.
Before making important decisions (like major financial or medical decisions), make sure you educate yourself, do proper research and get professional advice.
For example, don’t invest in things you don’t understand. There’s a wealth of information out there, there’s no excuse for not educating yourself before making life-changing decisions.
This also applies to things like choosing a college to attend (for you or your kids), purchasing a home, choosing a healthcare provider and so on.
One of the most difficult decisions I ever made was when my then four-year old needed to have surgery. I had to choose between managing the condition (and the risk that the child would fail to thrive), or opting for surgery as a permanent solution.
Even though I knew having surgery was the best decision, it was by no means an easy one. Surgery comes with it’s own risks and is not always foolproof.
But I did a lot of research and got a second opinion before I made a decision. I had peace of mind because I knew I had done the best I could to make sure I was doing the right thing for my child.
2. Trust Your Instinct
Before making a decision, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right to you or you feel uneasy, take a step back and look deeper.
While you shouldn’t make decisions based on your feelings alone, it’s always a good idea to listen to your heart.
3. Ditch The Guilt
This one is very hard to do. But I have been there and done that. Trust me, making decisions based on guilt will land you in trouble sooner or later.
For a long time, my kids wanted to live in a house but I could only afford an apartment. I felt guilty because I couldn’t give them what they wanted.
I felt inadequate and thought I was a bad mom. But when I did the math, I knew that paying hundreds of dollars more to rent a house was a dumb idea.
So I tried as best as I could to explain to them why we had to live in an apartment. Sometimes, all it takes is to break things down for your kids to get them to understand why you make the decisions that you do.
Don’t make decisions because you feel guilty about the divorce, or because their dad isn’t active in their lives or for any other reason.
Don’t feel like you have to compensate for your current situation by buying things you can’t afford or signing up for activities you can’t afford because you don’t want your kids to feel left out.
I am not talking about making the odd sacrifice here or there to provide for your kids or to make them happy. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Just be careful not to make important decisions because you feel guilty about being a single mom.
I can write a whole post on how to make decisions, but I think these three tips are a good place to start.
When you carry out proper research and educate yourself before making decisions, you feel more confident.
It’s true that you will make mistakes but don’t let fear stop you from making important decisions for you and your family.
Being a single mom is a tough job.Knowing some of the hardest struggles single moms face and how to navigate them will help you to live a more fulfilled and productive life.
Are you a single mom? What’s your biggest challenge? Let me know in the comments.
Other helpful resources: