When you first become a single parent, it can be scary to pave that road by yourself. Trying to figure out how to be a good single mom all boils down to a little bit of common sense and a whole lot of intentional parenting. Just the fact that you are even reading this article shows your devotion to your children as your number priority.
Some of these tips are universal – single mom or married mom. But some things are unique to single moms – custody schedules, co-parenting, exes, limited time with our children, etc. So, if this is you, dig in and join our 5-day positivity challenge just for single moms here.
11 Tips on How to be a Good Single Mom
Don’t Bad-Mouth Your Ex
This can be really hard especially if you are hearing negative talk from your children about you from your ex. But this is where you must rise to be the better person.
Trust me, your kids will one day notice this character trait in you.
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I grew up in a divorced family. One of my parents never talked negatively about the other, but the other did. As a child, it didn’t make me love one parent more or less than the other, as may have been the intent. But what did stick with me all these years later was how one parent was trying to manipulate my child’s mind into adult issues.
It is important for children to make their own decisions about their parents. Yes, we may know the other parent’s shortcomings and may even feel like we should warn our children of them. But it is for the children to form their own decisions about their parents. If you go the other route, all you will do is make your children resent you. The very opposite of your intent.
Time Alone with Each Child
Spend time alone with each child, each day. Yes, I know we often don’t get very much time with our children as is. This may seem difficult at first. But once you start, it will see it is not only doable but completely worth it.
I only see my children for maybe two hours a day on a school day if it isn’t “my day”. They are in a rush before school then get dropped off right before bedtime. Then some weekends, not at all.
I’m sure your experience has similar challenges. But it is for this reason they need our undivided attention. I found just 10 minutes can be magical. Fit it in at bedtime, extending bedtime by 10 minutes if necessary.
Time for Yourself
Make time for yourself daily or at a minimum, weekly. This can be just 15 minutes.
Make a list of 50 things you enjoy doing. It can simple things: crafting, taking a bath, a hot shower, reading, walking the dog, sitting outside while you drink your coffee, etc. Keep this list somewhere you can see it every day.
Find something to do from this list daily. Get started now: download a blank template from the resource library for free.
Take Help Wherever You can Get it
I recently heard help is everywhere. We are just used to saying “no thank you”.
For example, when you are at the grocery store and the check out worker asks if they can help take out your groceries and load them into your car. Most likely, you say, No thanks, I got it”. That is help!
Take it wherever it’s offered and in whatever form. Does someone offer to drop your child off on the way to take their child somewhere? Yes, please. Someone let you go in front of them in line, pick something up for you, or most often just doing their job? Take it.
Maybe someone is just being nice. Let them. When things calm down for you, you will repay the favor to another overburdened mom someday.
This relieves your stress and you are less likely to take it out at home on your precious ones.
Let the Single Mom Guilt Go
I don’t care if it’s been 2 months or 2 years, your guilt isn’t serving anyone. It’s certainly not helping you be a good single mom when all your focus is on your guilt.
Any guilt that you might be carrying around due to your divorce or separation is not helping your relationship with your children. Take that energy and put it into looking for activities you can do with your children. Or ways to make a positive family in this new world you are in – a single parent family.
Your child cares much less about all of that then they do about your love, comfort, and security.
Learn How to Make Your Own Goals
Before I became I single parent, I didn’t mess with this goal setting business.
But then I began to realize I total control over everything in my house now. That was both awesome and overwhelming.
The time I spent with my children quickly became clear to me that I needed to make it intentional time. Although I am the primary caretaker, I still have whole weekends without them. I want those times we are together to count.
As for everything else I was now in charge of…the house, money, school, etc, if I didn’t have a solid plan things simply wouldn’t get done.
Um, like mowing the lawn. Or even buying a lawn mower slipped my mind.
This is connected to parenting because if we don’t feel like we are in charge of our lives, or at least have a plan, we get stressed out. We no longer have a partner we can vent to. Often, we bottle these things inside then who gets the bad side of us?
If you’re thinking, “Ok, my goal is to a be a good mom.” You’ll want to break it down from there and take about a half hour to think about how you will do this. For worksheets to guide you through it, download them in the resource library.
Find a support system.
This can be hard to do. Some single moms do not have family nearby. And even if you do, let’s be honest, you may not want to call on them!
Plus making friends as a single mom can be difficult. It can be an isolating experience for quite a few years. But your support system doesn’t have to be a best friend or your sister. It can be the neighbor next door you call on when you just need to make a 20-minute run to the store or need a 10-minute sanity break.
Don’t Use Your Children as a Sounding Board
Being a single parent can be a lonely experience. At times we feel tempted to talk to our children, especially teenaged children, as friends. However, they are still children, and your first priority is to be their parent. Not their friend.
When my parents divorced, one of my parents told me problems that were adult problems. My teenaged brain could not process what to do with this information. It’s simply not fair to children for an adult to use children to “vent”.
The book, “Boundaries with Kids“ has excellent advice on this very subject, regardless of how old your children are. It applies very well to single-parent families.
Find a Routine that Works for Your Family
Find a routine that works for you. This is going to be different than all the traditional family advice you see. You have a completely different schedule most likely revolves around your ex, a custody schedule and possibly even favors from family members who watch your children.
Family dinners will be different for you. Bedtime and morning routines will differ for you.
For these things, it is important you do not look at what others are doing. What makes your family happy and what works for you? My kids rarely sleep in their own beds. I don’t care what “traditional” advice says. They are happy, secure and we are doing the best we can. You must find a routine that works for you.
Let the Little Things Go
There’s so much we can all work on to let go. But here I’m referring to the little things our kids do.
Think how often we tell our children “no” to things simply because it annoys us or we don’t think it should be done.
There’s no immediate threat to your child’s safety or it won’t make them grow up to be a monster if they run through the sprinkler when you’re out for a walk, crab walk instead of walk to the dinner table, or dig for worms right after a bath.
I don’t know what silly things you say no to. But all it does it stop your child from being a child and raise your irritability because most likely you have to say no multiple times. Relax and ask yourself if it really matters. Kids are washable and need to get their energy out physically.
We’ve all seen that mom at the PTA or the old high school friend who keeps posting those pictures. She looks happy all the time, perfect kids, and of course happily married. Can she ever just look a little pissed about something? Don’t count on it.
Instead, turn her off. Turn off all of your triggers in this area. Turn off Facebook, or hide all the “happily, married moms” if you need to.
Of course, we know in our head that their lives aren’t all fairies and cupcakes. That’s only what they chose to show the world. But if that’s making you skip the next all school activity because “what’s the point”, then turn them off.
There’s been talk lately that we are “shrinking our worldview” by hiding too many people on Facebook. Really? Then, how in the world did we survive without social media when we were going up?
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