Challenges of Making Friends as a Single Mom
Finding friends as a single mom comes with a host of challenges. Although there are 23% of single mother households in the US it is still very isolating.
Although many single mothers can reach out to extended family for help, both financial and emotional, the fact is many single mothers do not have an extended family in town or available to them. And many are not co-parenting, meaning their children’s father is not involved.
So these mothers are the sole support for their children all. the. time. They literally never get a break. When their children are in school, they are working. The emotional and financial drain is real. What many of these moms need is an extended network to reach out to. However, options are limited when we take away the usual “mom play dates” that are offered. These moms are working full time (and sometimes two jobs), with no family to leave their children with, they must take their children with them whenever they go somewhere outside of work. They often lost their prior network of friends during the divorce or when they had children by themselves so they do not know a lot of other single mothers.
If any of this describes you, here are some steps and resources to build your single mom network.
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What’s Your Reason for Finding Friends as a Single Mom?
First things, first. Redefine who should be in your network. Ask yourself the following:
- Do I only need someone to watch my child in an emergency?
- Do I need just want some friends that have similar aged kids as mine and in a similar stage of life as me? Purely so we can both have a break at the same time.
- Do I just need someone to call when my pipe bursts and I don’t know what to do?
- Do I need someone to “tag” me out with no judgment? Meaning: come over for 20 minutes and let me cool off when things get too heated.
We all need people in our lives for all of these reasons!
Resources and Ideas for Finding Friends as a Single Mom
1.MOPS Groups: Mothers of Preschoolers. These are groups of moms that get together 1-2 times per month and either do a craft or learn something fun. These are offered at churches all around the United States. Most churches have an evening offering and offer childcare at the same time. As a single mom who works and cannot afford childcare, keep looking until you find a church that offers both of these things. It is worth it! I’m not an outgoing person but I looked forward to these meetings and meet a lifelong friend there!
2. Like most things in life what is worth doing often takes quite a bit of effort up front but will pay dividends later. You must give first before you can receive. Do you know of another mom that just had surgery or a baby? While making your own dinner, make double and bring her a meal. Offer to watch your child’s friend so her mom can go do something. Just make sure these are people you want to form a relationship with. Give a couple times to the same person, then don’t be shy asking for a favor next time! The more you ask, the easier it gets.
3. If you have a baby and are breastfeeding, attend a Le Leche League meeting. These are super casual and everyone is so inviting. You can bring your other children and no one even bats an eye! You should be able to find evening meetings and weekend events.
4. Attending events aimed at your children to allow you to talk to other mothers. Go regularly so you can see the same faces and it doesn’t feel awkward to strike up a conversation. Try your library or zoo or school. All of which will bring the same people back and allow your child to be a child and expect you to bring your other children. As Shasta Nelson explains in Frientimacy, the key to all friendships is 1) positivity 2) vulnerability 3) consistency. Two wonderful books all about friendship by Shasta Nelson are below.
5. Get to know a neighbor or two that you can call in the middle of the night in case of an emergency. If your children are old enough, make sure they are comfortable with your neighbor to go over there and ask for help. I have had a pipe burst at 10 PM and when I turned the water off, the knob fell off in my hand. My kids ran to two different neighbors for help while I looked for the water main. Another time we had someone banging on our door demanding to be let in at 2 AM. At the very least, make sure you know your neighbors are always watching out for you.
6. Try a new Social Media channel. Facebook groups can sometimes leave you feeling a little empty. Girlfriend Circles allows you to connect with other women who are also working on making new friends, yes some as a single mom. While you aren’t guaranteed to find your next BFF, what you will find are other like-minded women who all want to learn how to make real friends now that we aren’t in high school anymore.
7. Don’t restrict yourself to other moms. Think outside of the box. I “traded kids” regularly with another single dad for years. My neighbor was a single grandpa that became like a grandpa to my children. We had neighbors across the street that although they were the typical “nuclear family” we still traded kids back and forth so much I never knew if I had 4 or 2 children!
Navigating Life as a Single Parent
We still largely live in a world that caters to 2 parent families. As far as we’ve come for acceptance for single parents, there is still a stigma that comes along with it. If you disagree with that statement, then you’re not a single parent. However, we have so many choices open to us. And so many doors are available if we just knock. Yes, sometimes it is difficult. But we were never called to a life of ease.
The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. – Pope Benedict XVI
Please share any tips you have for finding friends as a single mom in the comments!