Single Mom Survival Strategies
Practical Tips for Making it Work
You didn't plan it this way. When you became an adult and began your quest for the American dream, it did not involve raising a child yourself. But here you are. Life happens. Maybe you married a deadbeat. Maybe your spouse died. Maybe you never married the father of your child. It doesn't matter how you came to be in this position now that you are here. And you need help. Parenting is a thankless job. When both parents are together, the burden is somewhat shared in most cases. At least there is another adult in the house, however much or little they add to the mix. But when you find yourself tackling it all alone, it can become overwhelming, frightening, and sometimes depressing. I'm not here to tell you it will be an easy job. I will tell you that you CAN survive and that there are strategies you can employ to help you in your journey. Take heart, friend. You are not alone! With 50% of all marriages (even Christian marriages) ending in divorce today, the world is full of mothers making it happen on a day to day basis. Here's how:
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. At some point, you have to realize that the only thing standing in your way of success is your own pride. If you want something bad enough, you are going to have to admit that you can't do it all on your own. No man is an island. We all need friends, family, and sometimes government or charitable agencies. There is NO shame in asking for help. Let me repeat. THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. Your child is priority here. There are those that will tell you that you should be ashamed of bringing a child into the world that you cannot support. I ask you, once the calf is out of the gate, does that really matter? What matters is this child needs food, clothing, shelter, education, and love. And a mother who is worth her salt will do everything in her power to make sure her child is taken care of--even if it means accepting charity. Even if it means humbly asking family members to help out temporarily. If you have friends and family who offer to babysit, help with groceries or cleaning, or are willing to offer you a loan when things run short, consider saying yes. Who is to say you can't return the favor when things are better? Having said that, this does NOT mean that living off the charity of others should become a way of life. I would say this should not extend past a year before you are able to put on your big girl panties and go to school, get a better job, get two jobs to support yourself and child. Look at the agencies, family, and friends as bridges to a better life...not the cash cows for a less than mediocre life. And do remember to return their kindness as your situation improves or pay it forward to someone else in need.
- Single moms, it is imperative to take care of you physically. This means, even if you are working two and three jobs. You cannot hold out working seven days a week and be at one hundred percent for your child. You have to rest, and you have to rest when you have the opportunity. If that means getting a sitter for a two-hour nap, then so be it. I have seen the day when a nap was worth the 20 bucks. I never considered it wasted when I spent money on good shoes either. If you ruin your feet and legs, you surely can't work. But you have to prioritize your needs. Wants have to be secondary at this point until that better life comes. Your mental and physical health are paramount at this stage of the game. Don't pass on regular dental and medical checkups unless you absolutely cannot afford it. Your local health department can do well checkups, Pap smears, and can sometimes provide samples of medication. Many hospitals offer free mammograms during Breast Cancer Awareness, the month of October. Also, you can visit the manufacturer web site of your medication for patient assistance programs.
- Make every penny you do have count. That means coupon clubs, eating at home, renting 1-dollar Redbox movies instead of going out, turning the thermostat up or down 5 degrees, and buying generics. And yes, that may mean your child wears no-name clothes. Again, there is no shame in that. If they are clean and pressed and not threadbare, that is what counts. When your income is bare bones, you cannot live like others. You sock back a dollar here, a dollar there every week for that emergency fund. You cut programs on your cable. You cut your phone plan back. You live within your means. You will be surprised at what you can do without and still make it quite well.
- Perhaps the most important thing to maintain during these years when you are struggling to make ends meet and raise a child or children is your spiritual health. Having a close walk with the Creator and searching out His wisdom is the one thing that I can say has carried me through fire, flood, feast and famine, so to speak. If you seek Him, you will find Him. In the hours when you are troubled, He will calm you. In the hours when you are puzzled, He will give you answers. In the hours when you are lonely, He will send you a friend. He may not give you what you want, but He will make sure you have what you truly need. God loves children. He loves His adult children as well. He wants us to learn to trust Him and have faith. Through the wisdom of His word, the Bible, we have instructions for parenting and living that will serve us well if we follow them.
Link to another helpful article: http://thussaysnanamarie.hubpages.com/_332vxptwkwcu3/hub/Taking-My-Hat-Off-To-Single-Mothers-2