15 Challenges Single Moms Face
Being a single parent is never easy. But the majority of the time it is the moms that take the bigger burden. Women often have a lower income, have their kids the majority of the time, take care of the kids, chores, appointments, etc the majority of the time. For me it was not big loss when it came to household jobs when my ex moved out. We both worked (him outside the home, me from home, plus taking care of the kids). When he wasn’t at work he was on the computer or fixing someone’s computer (mostly for free). So majority of everything fell on me. Cleaning, the bills, grocery shopping, etc. I noticed the main thing that was a ‘new job’ I had to do was taking the trash cans to the street and back on trash day. Fortunately many marriages have more of a balance. Regardless if you had a marriage like mine, if your’s was 50-50 with the work and chores, if you had a maid do most or if one parent worked and the other stayed at home, we have all noticed some challenges we have faced as single moms.
Get the hard jobs done. If you can’t do them yourself than hire someone else or learn to barter and trade.
1- Having no one to take over. That could mean because you want to run out, take a nap or have 10 minutes of peace. It is especially hard when the kids are young. Once they get older, like teens, it is easier. I’m glad I can do errands and leave them home alone. But when they were young it was often exhausting. My ‘break time’ was when they were asleep.
2- Doing it all. Especially if you work full time. My single moms with young kids are always exhausted, trying to get everything done yet having guilt that they are either at work or cleaning and not having enough time to spend with their kids. It is hard to balance everything. Learn how to let go of the ‘mom guilt.’ You are not perfect.
3- Learning how to do all the parenting. This means disciplining. Schoolwork. Decision making. It isn’t easy when the kid(s) have to do some schoolwork at the other parent’s house, or the parent doesn’t do any schoolwork at all there and you have to pick up the slack, doing it 100% on your own.
4- Living on a single income. There might be fewer bills too (plus side) but losing the income can be a huge loss. It is a good idea to write out a budget, figure out ways to make more money and way to reduce bills.
5- Defining your friends. It is never easy but many moms lose friends, often when they are couples, when they are friends with you and your ex.
6- Redefining who you are. Especially if you have your ex’s last name. Even worse if they remarry and the new spouse has the same last name as you. This is something you might need some time to get used to. Some moms have considered changing their last name back to their maiden name. Others want to keep their last name to have the same last name as their kids.
7-Co-Custody parenting. This can be insane. All the ‘we agree to parent this way’ rules when you were together might fly out the window. Especially if they other parent has less custody. They might want to be a ‘Disneyland-Dad’ and make it all fun’n games. It is a good idea for both parents to take a co-custody parenting class. Some times the classes are a court order for both parents.
8- Feeling judged by everyone for having a failed marriage. Regardless of the reason, it isn’t easy. At kids’ events, school, etc having the other parent there, especially when there is a lot of tension between both of you, is really hard. Find friends that offer support and don’t judge you.
9- Finding free time when they kids are with their other parent. Sometimes this means catching up on household chores, emails, etc. It is also good to have some lunch or dinner dates with friends. Finding some hobbies is good too. Discovering ways to not sit around, missing the kids, is important. Don’t call or text them over and over either.
10- Not getting enough sleep. Writing down a to-do list that takes more hours in the day. It isn’t easy but getting enough sleep is important for your mental health and physical health. Find ways to work smarter, not harder. Make sure you get enough sleep. Even if that means you have less time to clean. Kids are only young once.
11- Having a child with special needs. This could be so much more stress. IEP meetings, making sure your child’s needs are met, having discipline issues with kids that have behavioral problems. It could be a lot. Doing it alone is hard. Find help. Depending on your child’s needs you might qualify for respice. If not, look into a tutor, having a nanny. Some churches have a ‘parents night out’ once a night for parents with special needs children. It isn’t every day, but it something to look forward to. A break to do some errands without the kids, go on a date night, catch up with a friend, etc. Drive away fast (in a safe way) and enjoy it.
12-Traveling without another adult. Vacations, family reunions, camping, long distance road trips, airplane flights. It is a whole new ballawax when you are doing it alone. Plan ahead. Ask another adult to come with you. Plan for breaks. Shop at the dollar store and get some toys to keep the kids entertained. When we visited my grandma and the drive was about 5 hours I planned it around nap time, so they’d sleep most of the ride, and I’d get cheap toys, wrap them in wrapping paper and let them open a new one every hour we were on the road.
13- Having the other parent flake on their time 20 minutes before they are suppose to arrive. Even worse if it is after they were suppose to already be there. They are late and then call or text to say they aren’t coming. Not all parents are like this, but believe me when there are some out there that don’t fathom to think you might have plans! They are sick, forgot about an appointment, stuck at work, forgot it was their day, etc. This will happen. Learn to curb your emotions. Embrace the extra time with your kids.
14- Dealing with emergencies. Water pipe breaks, need a root canal, car breaks down. It is good to have emergency funds but not always possible. Sometimes borrowing money from family can help you in an emergency situation. Some churches help out families in need. There are companies that help with electric and gas bills if they are behind. There is an organization called Modest Needs that helps with bills when there is special circumstances causing hardship. You can search their site to see if you qualify.
15-Dating. When you are ready. This does not mean it should be soon. But to balance work, household work, parenting and fatigue and yet then try to date? It isn’t easy. Sometimes it is good to put off or wait until the kids are older. If it is something you are ready for than it is a balance act but something you can do if you really want to. Don’t forget to always put your kid first. Always. They are more important than a SO and if the SO is a good person they’ll agree with you.
All this is a big juggling act. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Find your tribe. Love yourself.
What is your biggest challenge as a single mom?