Are you an overwhelmed single mother? Don't feel bad. Being a single mom, for whatever the reasons might be, is very common. In fact, over 15 million households in the United States consist of single moms. This means you’re definitely in the same boat as a lot of other women with single mom struggles.
Unfortunately, research has also shown that single mothers have a lower quality of life than married mothers. This really highlights that single mother struggles are a real problem.
There are many strains you are likely to encounter as you raise your kids on your own. However, you can have a great quality of life as a single mother despite what the research says.
In this article, I'll be sharing key tips to help you overcome those single mom struggles. So if you're a struggling mother, then take heart because we're here to help! But first, let's go over some of the common struggles single moms face.
The most common single mom struggles
Dealing with single mother struggles is tough! Here are some of the most common struggles experienced by single moms.
Being tired all the time
Constantly being “on” for your kids is so tiring, especially if they’re up at the crack of dawn. And you don’t get any breaks. You're preparing meals, washing clothes, taking them to school/appointments, keeping them entertained, and more. It’s a 24/7 job.
Even without all your day-to-day chores, the mental aspect of caring for a little one can be exhausting. You want to make sure you’re doing a good job, and the stress of trying to ensure they have a perfect childhood can be overwhelming.
Not having enough “me” time
Many times, it's can be hard to get a moment alone in the bathroom, let alone an entire night to sit on the couch to catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. It’s sweet that the kids always want to be close to you, but having time alone to get back in touch with yourself is important too.
Sometimes you just want to unwind with a favorite show or book. After a while, you may feel like you have no personality or interests anymore. You’re living only for your kids, which is noble, but that’s not the way it has to be.
Struggling to pay the bills
It’s tough to afford kids on only one income. Especially if you can’t work full-time or need to pay for daycare. You might find yourself struggling to pay for your kids’ growing appetites, school needs, and sports activities and still have money left for rent or utilities.
If you’re not careful, you may even find yourself in credit card debt, which can be hard to get out of, especially if you have a limited income.
You have enough single mother struggles without worrying about what others think. But unfortunately, there are some that may be judgemental of your situation.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes the actions of others have a way of bringing you down. Despite trying not to care what others think, it can be hard not to feel hurt by it.
Not being able to start a college fund
If you’re struggling to pay the bills, a college fund might be the last thing on your mind. But it’s important, as the average cost for tuition, fees, room, and board was $24,623 per year in 2019. And who knows what it will be up to by the time your kids are ready to attend?
Obviously, starting a college fund when they’re little can give you time to build up wealth to cover some of their costs. But being unable to do so could contribute to your mental stress, making things even more difficult for you.
Getting no support from your ex
One of the toughest single parent struggles can be dealing with an ex. Maybe they're supposed to pay child support or watch the kids a few days a week. If they’re not chipping in, it can be frustrating and put even more strain on you as a single parent. Not having the support you need can make things feel very overwhelming.
Losing touch with your friends
Although you adore your little one you may find you don't have the time to stay in touch with some friends as you use to. Your childless friends might not understand why you can't get together like you did before and might start to pull away.
It’s not that they don’t want to hang out with you anymore — they just don’t understand all of the single mom struggles you go through as a parent. It can be tough to maintain relationships when you have different lifestyles.
7 Tips for navigating single mom struggles
You probably read the list above and thought... how do they know me so well? The truth is, you are not alone in facing these single parent struggles! That said, here are some key ways you can help yourself overcome them.
1. Focus on your well-being
Your kids are probably always your number one focus, but just keep in mind; you’re important too. Your health and well-being should also be a priority. If you get sick physically or mentally, you won’t be able to take care of your kids.
Try to get to bed earlier so you can get a full eight hours of rest, which is the amount recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Get more exercise to boost your energy levels — it might seem a bit counterproductive, but exercise has been shown to activate the mitochondria in your body, leading to more energy.
And of course, you should do your best to eat healthier – try to cut back on unhealthy snacks and drinks. Stick with fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbs and protein whenever you can.
If the kids really aren’t cooperating, call over a friend or babysitter so you can get rest. You can even try our 30-day glow-up challenge! But don’t worry if you can’t make it all the way through, just give it your best shot!
Whenever you do have a night off, make the most of it. Take a bubble bath, listen to music – have fun! But also, don’t feel guilty if you just curl up in bed for an early, quiet night.
2. Look for support
It’s important to find support wherever you can. See if you can join a mommy group that takes turns watching everyone’s kids. Even getting one night off a week could do wonders for your mental health!
It also might be time to look elsewhere for emotional and financial support, whether that’s friends, family, or babysitters. If you have a neighborhood teenager looking for a little cash, they might be a good, affordable option for giving yourself a break.
There are also plenty of networks across the country specifically tailored to single parents. You can reach out if you need help with any single mother struggles you are facing. These include:
Seeking support is one of the best ways to navigate difficult single parent struggles!
3. Get your finances in order to get relief
Finances play a major role in single mom struggles. That's why it’s important to make time for your finances so you can see ways to cut back or reduce bills. This might mean scheduling time a few days a month so you can deep dive into your accounts.
If you’re really struggling, look into rent assistance for single moms to see if you can get help in this area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers Section 8, state-sponsored housing, and public housing for mothers who need a place to live.
Your state should also offer Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Women, Infants, and Children benefits to help you pay for food and other necessities.
4. Don’t worry about what others think
We know this is easier said than done. You can’t change other people, but you can change how you value their opinion. Clearly, they don't understand what your life is like, so try to focus on yourself and not let their opinions get to you!
It doesn’t matter what your situation is; it only matters that you’re making the most of it and giving your kids the best life you can. If you have people in your life causing you to feel bad about yourself, it may be time to distance yourself from them. It may be hard at first, but eventually, you will heal and find friends that are more supportive of you.
5. Look into boosting your income
If the bills just keep piling up and you can’t even think about saving anything, look into a part-time stay-at-home job to get a little extra income. Freelance writing, being a virtual assistant, and even online ESL tutoring are all examples of things you can do.
Once you have a little extra cash flow, consider a custodial account. It lets you invest on behalf of your kids so you can build up some wealth for them when they’re older. Your money is put in the stock market to boost your savings more, making it a great choice for a college fund.
6. Seek legal action if needed
If your ex is breaking the rules you set for custody, you could go to court if you have a legal agreement. The judge might be able to help, especially if it’s clear they’re not doing their part. They may be able to rule in your favor and dictate that your ex pay their child support.
If you don’t want to go to court — after all, it costs money and takes up even more of your time — try to be civil and discuss the issues with them. You may want to consider having a third party facilitate negotiations — perhaps a mutual friend you both trust not to take sides.
7. Socialize with other single moms
Finding other moms to socialize with can combat many of the single parent struggles you are dealing with. There are plenty of mommy groups out there that make it easier to meet new people. Join these and schedule playdates. While your kids are playing, you can socialize and form new connections.
The best way to find these groups is to search Facebook, Meetup.com, and similar sites. You may even see flyers posted at your pediatrician’s office or the local coffee shop. As for your old friends, make time to see them at least once a month by hiring a babysitter or planning kid-friendly dates.
These people are an important part of your past, and even if you’re growing apart, you should still try to maintain your connection. Instead of focusing on your differences, chat about the things you still have in common or your favorite shared memories from the past.
Remember, you can overcome your single mom struggles
Hopefully, you can use these tips to feel better about yourself, both mentally, emotionally, and financially! Remember, we’re all doing the best we can, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Of course, if you’d like even more tips on how to overcome single mother struggles, we can help! Check out our video discussing Money Tips for Single Moms to see how you can make your limited income more than enough for your family. Also, tune in to the Clever Girls Know podcast and YouTube channel for encouragement and financial advice!