When two people get married, they enter into a lifelong commitment with the best of intentions, but sometimes things change, people change, circumstances change. The one thing that I’ve learned in the past few years, since finding myself becoming a single mom after divorce, is that what remains in my control is how I react to anything that comes my way. I believe that attitude really is everything when it comes to how to cope with being a single mom.
By Maria Healey, MariaHealey.com
Women are more likely to initiate divorce, and it’s not a small number – 70% of the time, women take the lead on ending their marriage. I was one of those women who had that difficult conversation that led to a more amicable solution for ending our marriage by keeping our family top of mind – mediation. It has now been two years since our divorce was finalized, but the roughest part of the journey was the beginning when I wasn’t sure what to do.
What does a single mom life look like:
Before even going through with divorce or mediation, there are a few things that need to be planned for in order to make the transition to being a single mom a little less stressful.
- Housing – ensure that you and your child have a safe place to live, whether it’s staying put in the home you shared as a family or packing up and moving out. Stick to a budget when it comes to paying rent or mortgage costs.
- Finances – now is the time to start a budget and planning for the future, if you’ve never done so before. If you’ve been out of the workforce, it’s time to dust off that resume and start sending it out in order to generate some income. Many single moms maintain a delicate balance with juggling a career and the care of their child, so finding a flexible and empathetic employer is very important.
- Childcare – finding a trustworthy childcare provider can be one of the most stressful experiences of becoming a single mom after a divorce. If your family is nearby and willing to help, or if your child’s dad is a great co-parent, you’re in luck! These are priceless resources. If your child is young, start checking out the local day cares or preschools in your area. If your child is in school, stop in to find out what their after-school options are for childcare when school lets out.
- Self-Care – it might not be top of mind for a single mom, but be kind to yourself and grant yourself some patience. For single moms, self-care simply means also devoting some time to yourself in terms of making sure you’re getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle because your child needs the best version of you and that responsibility also lies in your hands.
How to cope with being a single mom
Once becoming a single mom after divorce, now is the time to remind yourself that you are not alone. Friends, family and support groups of now the most important relationships to maintain.
- Friends – reach out to local friends in order to maintain those relationships and stick to plans you may make with each other; despite the fact, it might be harder now that you’re a single mom and are often too exhausted to socialize. Keep in touch with your friends outside of your local community too. For many of us single moms far from family, our friends are the ones who become our family.
- Family – maintain communication with your family, near and far. They will often be the ones you can rely on the most when life as a single mom gets tough. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll find that most people love to feel like they’re able to assist you during a hard time.
- Support Groups – talking about your single mom life can help to feel less burdened or stressed out. It’s good to open up, and finding a group or therapist that’s receptive to this discussion is important to growing and healing after divorce. If you’re in need of a good therapist or single moms’ support group, ask around or look online. A one-hour counseling session often feels more like a day at the spa afterwards, once you’ve gotten so much off your chest and been offered the tools of how to cope with being a single mom. · Books – read. Read. READ. Whether it’s a blog post or a book, there is so much useful information out there for a single mom after their divorce. Pick up some non-fiction or self-help books to jumpstart these new changes, or find some relatable fiction to help you understand you aren’t the only one going through this big life change. This is a time to grow and embrace your new single mom life.
Discover new interests
One of the really exciting things about your new life as a divorced single mom is that it’s an opportunity for you to look inside yourself as an uncoupled person and embrace your interests or discover something new that you hadn’t considered before.
- Outdoor Activities – take a hike, join a moms running group, walk around a nearby lake, take a yoga class, or join a volleyball or soccer league. There are endless possibilities when it comes to getting active and involved outside of the home. Stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking are also some great outdoor activities if you’re lucky enough to live by some water.
- Book Club – as an avid reader and writer myself, I highly suggest finding a book club that you love. It’s more about the group of people in the club than the book itself. Not every book will be a winner, but the experiences you share with this group of friends opens you up to sharing and listening to others and it might just be assisting in your healing process as well
- Mom’s Night Out – take advantage of the times when you don’t have your child at home with you and join other moms out for a night of fun. This is often a much deserved evening to let loose and focus on you for once. Nurturing your close friendships is just as important as self-care and caring for your child.
- Dating – when you’re ready, there are a variety of ways for single moms to date. As with everything, this must be approached with an open mind. Begin slow and take your time to really understand what you want out of a successful relationship. Don’t involve your child until you’ve found a good match in a serious relationship.
Spending time with your child
Kids may also be going through a really hard time with this new transition to single mom life. They might not understand why their parents are no longer together or why they have to divide their time between two households. There are a few things to keep in mind.
- Co-Parenting – continue to be there for your child as the amazing mom you are. Some of the things that led to divorce might also make it difficult to co-parent with your child’s father but keep your child top of mind in all interactions and keep any criticisms away from little ears.
- Activities – spend time outside taking walks and chatting or do something more adventurous like packing up some snacks and heading to the beach. Camping is another great activity that can strengthen the bond between mom and kid.
- Rituals – it’s important to maintain some rituals so that your child continues to look forward to the special time you get together. Movie night or game night at home every Saturday or going out to dinner once a month is a simple gesture that goes a long way with kids.
- Schedule – remain flexible when possible and use a shared calendar with your child’s father to ensure everyone is on the same page where schedules are concerned. Your child should not have to pay the price by feeling forgotten if mom or dad aren’t there to pick them up from practice on time.
Overall, life after divorce looks different and my hope for you is that it looks better than it did before. A lot of thought goes into getting a divorce and when children are involved, that includes many more factors to consider. My best advice, if you find yourself as a single mom after divorce, is to reach out to loved ones for support to help you cope through this difficult time, and find a therapist or good self-help book to help you navigate these new, big emotions. Embrace this new change and love yourself and love your kids!
Maria Healey is a SoCal mom of one. She is a collector of life experiences. She is a regular contributor to the Today Parenting Team contributing stories on topics from how to take better party photos to what you wish you knew emotionally in your child’s milestones. Her favorite pastimes shared on http://www.mariahealey.com include reading, writing, cooking, and getting outside as much as possible.