There is no question that being a single mom isn’t easy. Most single moms have more limited budgets and less home support than their married counterparts. Yet we’ve all known single moms who have risen to the challenge and gone above and beyond to provide for their children. Maybe you’re thinking about the mom in your church choir who raised two preschool children while working full-time and going to school part-time.
Maybe you’re thinking about the fellow school parent who was able to battle cancer successfully right after her husband walked out on her. Regardless of the specific circumstances, single moms take a number of tactics to support themselves and their children without the assistance of a spouse.
Make Time Management a Top Priority
It’s hard enough to manage your time when you’re running a family with two adults. The challenge is that much greater when you’re doing it on your own. There is no single time management strategy that works for everyone.
Some people like to structure their days in one hour increments so that they can account for all of their time with ease while other people work better with to do lists.
Find a management strategy that works for you so that you can give your kids the time and attention that they deserve without compromising your career.
Work out a Schedule That Suits Your Family
For some people, this task is easier than it is for others. For example, if you have a freelance career that allows you to work from home, you most likely have the flexibility to take your kids to and from school and extracurricular activities. A mom who works a 9-5 office job doesn’t have the same flexibility.
Be honest with your boss and your kids’ teachers about your schedule. Most people would want to work with you, not against you, so that you can keep your job and have your children keep attending the same school.
A boss may allow you to change your hours to accommodate the school schedule or your kids’ teachers may help you work out a carpool program with some of the other parents.
Take Time out for Yourself
Both married and single parents struggle to take time away from their kids. You may feel guilty about shelling out a babysitter so that you can have a night at the movies or dinner at a favorite restaurant. However, this money is well worth it.
Having time to yourself allow you to relax, letting you come back to your kids refreshed. As a single parent, this notion is more important than ever because you don’t have a spouse at home to give you a short break. Think about finding another single mom and arranging childcare swaps so that you each get the kid free time that you need.
Don’t Lose Sleep on Things That Are out of Your Control
It is way too easy to spend time obsessing over things that you can’t control, such as whether or not your child’s father is going to make it to big life events for your kids or the fact that you can’t put away money for your kids’ college right now.
Instead focus on things that you can control, including the kind of parent that you can be for your children.
Find Ways to Cut Back on Necessities
Figure out what is most important to you and then look for ways to cut back on other expenses. For example, if you don’t want to give up going out to eat once a week as a whole family, think about cutting back on your clothing budget.
Take advantage of bargains whenever possible, such as bulk deals on staple household items and online holiday specials. If you don’t need something, don’t buy it, or wait until you can get it used or at a discounted price.
Seek out Opportunities to Have Fun without Breaking the Bank
Many people equate a limited budget with less fun. In reality there are numerous ways to have fun, regardless of your budget. Keep your eyes open for free or inexpensive activities around your community. They can be as simple as story hours at the library or a holiday tree lighting in the town square.
If you have older children, invite them to work with you to plan outings that everyone will enjoy. The planning process is a great way to work on budgeting and spending skills while giving them control over family time.
Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child's social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.