Being a solo mom comes with unique challenges that can cause you to struggle. Whether or not you choose to be one, you're still doing the job of two people. So it's more difficult than if both parents actively do their part.
That said, there are numerous reasons for solo moms to feel overwhelmed. They are often living on their own without help or support. The costs of raising a child can be financially draining, and the stress of juggling work and raising children can be overwhelming.
"Life doesn't come with a manual, it comes with a mother" Unknown
However, many strategies exist to help alleviate the struggles that may come with mothering solo. Below are 7 surprising reasons why you may find life difficult as a solo mom.
1. You don’t love yourself
What does loving yourself look like?
You learn to be kind to yourself. Do so by talking kindly to yourself and giving yourself grace. Even if you mess up be “gentle with yourself” as Jonathan Milligan entreats.
More importantly, don't allow others to step on you. Don't tolerate anyone who disrespects you by emotionally or physically abusing you. Show love to yourself by removing yourself from under those who want to use you as a doormat.
None of this necessarily means you have to fight anyone. But a big part of self-love is avoiding those who refuse to learn to love you. Sometimes it can be hard because the abuser can be someone close but not necessarily an intimate partner.
They can be a parent, a “friend”, or even your child.
But by loving yourself, you can teach others how to love you.
Learn to love yourself. If you don't love yourself, how can you truly love others?
By loving yourself, you ensure that you are physically and mentally able to take care of others and foster a sense of self-worth.
As long as you live.
2. You don’t set goals for yourself
3. You don’t take care of yourself
Loving yourself requires you to take care of yourself. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You create a safe environment for your mental health. You seek help when you need it. You take breaks and practice good mental hygiene.
It is easy to forget that you deserve self-care too.
When you’re on an airplane, you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask before putting on your child's, in case of emergency. This doesn't make sense to a mom. After all, you want to take care of your child first, right?
Wrong! What happens if you are incapacitated or dead? Who will take care of your child then?
Activities like spending time with friends, family, and pets has the power to make you feel more confident in yourself, which in turn helps them better handle your responsibilities as a parent.
Moms in general, and solo moms especially, need to put their health and wellbeing first. It's a hard lesson to learn. And some of us die without even realizing that just taking care of ourselves would keep us living longer to take care of those we love.
Ways to incorporate self-care into your daily life include developing good habits that create a healthy lifestyle. Listen to your heart. Pursue your dreams. Sleep.
But at the very least, practice mindfulness.
Eat only healthy, nutritious foods that keep you strong and healthy. Exercise. But also train your doctor to be your healthcare partner, not your dictator.
Read your test results. If you don't understand them, ask for an explanation. Get a second or third opinion on any serious health diagnosis. Be well informed about the medications you are instructed to take.
The power is in your hands. Ask questions not only about your own health but also about the healthcare of your children.
Taking care of yourself requires not taking your health for granted.
And don't allow anyone to treat you badly. If you do, you won't be emotionally healthy.
4. You don’t get healing
“I am better off healed than I ever was unbroken”. ~ Beth Moore.
One of the quickest ways to heal your hurt is to forgive yourself. Then, you forgive others who have hurt you. Forgiveness frees you from guilt and shame. When you remain angry and sad, you allow another person to dictate your moods and feelings.
If you have old trauma pulling you into darkness, get help. See a therapist or speak with a mentor. There are organizations that match single mothers with mentors. If you can't afford a therapist,
Seek spiritual help. You will understand how loved you are. Seeking God doesn't mean you have to join a religion. God doesn't care about religion. But he cares about you. Even the hairs on your head.
Healing can be faster when you surrender your will. Letting go doesn’t mean you are weak. It frees the energy you are wasting on fear, anger, and unforgiveness so you can focus on building life on your terms.
5. You date before you are whole
When you don't address your issues, they can fester and boil over in the worst possible scenario. You take what others say out of context, leading to an argument. Or, you miss the signs of an abuser. Mistaking what he offers for love.
You are so busy searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong places that you can't see the signs before it's too late. You find yourself right back where you started. A solo mom.
But if you don't want to be a solo mom. If having a loving partner is your desire. Start by healing yourself and getting whole.
Spend time with yourself. Know who you are. As you discover your true self, you will begin to seek healing. You will start loving yourself. You will raise your standards.
The thing to remember is that you are not half looking for another half. It's "two becomes one". So your other half isn't out there. If you continue looking for your other half, that's what you'll find.
Love yourself enough to get healing. Stop looking for what you missed out on as a child in your future partner.
It's unfair to him, yourself, or your children. For one, he has no idea you need those things. And for another, it's not his job to meet those needs in the way that you expect.
It's your caregiver in the case of neglect and abandonment. Or your therapist to help you heal from that trauma.
So keep relationships at bay until you are whole. You do not have to be perfect. It’s about being your best self. Whole.
That way, when the chameleon comes, you will spot him a mile away. And you won’t miss Mr. Right.
6. You make co-parenting about you
Divorce happens. Relationships end. It's a sad fact of life.
However, children still need their parents. So unless he's a bastard who will hurt the kids, you owe it to yourself and the kids to work out a co-parenting arrangement that works for the benefit of the kids.
My podcast guest, Eugenie, made an arrangement where her son spends two weeks with her and two weeks with his dad each month. At first, she worried it would not work, but her son loved it and he expressed how much he felt at home in both places.
Of course, this may only work if you're in the same neighborhood or school district - maybe.
But find a way to make it work.
If Dad wants to be engaged and shoulder his responsibility, you both need to find a way to ensure your kids' wellbeing, making the best of circumstances.
So let the kids take their favorite toy, regardless of who paid for it.
It might feel better to fight and try to make your ex suffer.
But the only ones paying in that scenario are your kids.
7. You don't give your kids space to grow
Helicopter parenting is the worst injustice to your child. You may think that you're helping them by always hovering. But you're not. I made the mistake of doing almost everything for my children, especially my middle child. The worst thing is, I didn't even realize it until he was 25.
"If you are worried about being a good mother, it means you are already one".
I don't sit around feeling guilty about it anymore. But at one point I did. I felt responsible for his actions. I know I'm not, but tell that to a solo mom.
You have to give your children the space they need to learn and grow. You have to give them the opportunity to experience life. Sometimes they will get hurt. But they will never learn to handle adversity if you try to protect them from life.
So teach them to cook. Let them learn to drive. If dad isn't around, find them a mentor.
Your child needs the experience of being a child. Smothering him or her doesn't protect them. And they might even resent you for it.
So mom. Grow a pair. Let your little eagle soar.
If you are a loving person they will always want to come home.
8. You think you’re an island
So you got hurt. Or maybe their dad isn't the nicest person. That's alright. You can go it alone. But can you though?
Don't fool yourself into thinking you don't need anybody. This attitude can be especially dangerous if you decide to isolate yourself from everyone. It's a losing strategy.
Let others help where you need it. Maybe you pay someone for services like therapy or childcare. But if you can't afford to pay you may have to ask someone.
On Season 3 | Episode 5 of SoloMoms! Talk podcast, Carol Stratton suggests getting to know your neighbor so you can find time to rest, especially at that time of the month. That’s when your body needs a lot of rest, according to Dorit Palvanov (Episode 4 | Season 3).
When you are exhausted, you will not make wise decisions. It's difficult to think on your feet when you are in a mental fog. And you have to think on your feet when you have kids.
Finally, learn how to pray for grace and favor. If you want forgiveness and healing, God can give you the peace you need. Life doesn't have to be such a struggle when you have faith.
So don't be selfish. Get help. You can't do it alone. No solo mom is an island.
7. You plan for an empty nest
Life can be a struggle on its own, but mothering solo brings a new level of responsibility that requires our best self.
When you put yourself first, you honor your body. You also give yourself the opportunity to nurture a sound mind.
And when you're not perfect, extend some grace to yourself.
One step at a time - even a 2 mm shift. And you will begin to create a life of joy and fulfillment that will benefit both you and your children.
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