No one can deny being a single mother comes with a new set of challenges.
Taking care of another human and supporting your family at the same time – this can send any stable woman to a place of emotional struggle.
How can one keep it together, enjoy life, and relish in this sacred time of raising a child – through each moment, each stage, each age? How to be happy as a single mom lies in these 9 practices. They will help empower you to love your life of single motherhood and celebrate the journey:
1. Stay true to yourself.
This may take some quiet time, some “you” time. Meditation is amazing to get you to connect internally, listen to your truth and find some peace within. Yet, I know what you may be thinking, “Yeah, right, who has a moment for that when you’re raising a baby!”
It may mean giving yourself a few minutes to lie still in bed before you sleep and consciously try to quiet your overactive, yet exhausted mind. Or perhaps, you can slow your brain for a moving meditation when you get out for a walk with the stroller.
Instead of grabbing for your iPhone, just be with your own thoughts for a while. Whenever and however you can, maintain a dedicated time to tap into your own heart.
2. Don’t listen to your family and friends.
Everyone seems to have an opinion or (often worse) a judgment about your life and what you need to do. You already know more than you think you do. No one else can possibly know what’s right for you and your baby.
Listen when it is helpful, but when something doesn’t resonate, take it in and then let it go. Trust yourself. You have a mother’s intuition and it applies to more aspects of your life right now than just knowing when your child needs a diaper change.
3. Set your priorities.
Take some time to write out what is important to you and in what order. Keep this in a safe place and consider it a self-made “bible” to aide you in making decisions that support what’s in your heart.
This exercise helped me clarify and hone my focus. My first priority was time with my baby. The second was living happy, so I could be an example. The third was supporting us with a stable foundation.
These three goals were almost equally important. I knew I had to do all three, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice time with my baby. When I did, I suffered inside and I believe she did too.
It took some learning and making mistakes. With my personal guidelines, I am able to lessen these pains and celebrate my decisions, even when outsiders may not understand.
(An outsider is defined as anyone other than you and your baby!)
4. Accept help.
There will be angels along the way. You may worry you are taking advantage of them or you shouldn’t ask for help even when others encourage you to do so.
It is important to be open to help because you need it right now. This help could be in the form of free child care, housing, financial help, or anything at all that you normally wouldn’t accept. But let’s face it, normally you wouldn’t need it the way you do now.
Believe that each person who is there for you is there for a reason. Helping you gives them an opportunity to receive the gift of giving. Let them, but always acknowledge their kindness and be grateful. Don’t forget it when the times change or when you can give in return.
You may be able to offer something completely different that you don’t even see as equivalent, but they may see it as extraordinary. It could be just giving them an ear to listen or teaching them something they have wanted to learn. It isn’t an eye for an eye.
I personally needed child care help whenever possible. Based on the income I would make teaching yoga with the cost of child care, I simply couldn’t afford it.
Even if I couldn’t return the favor of child care, I could share coaching knowledge, information on reducing anxiety, and better ways to eat, juice or detox. I could be there as a supportive friend or to spread some sunshine and optimism. Those were my gifts to share.
In addition, I am confident my daughter gave so much more to anyone who welcomed her in. She gave love and smiles. In this world filled with depression and anxiety, there isn’t much more powerful than sharing some sunshine or even a new outlook on another’s day.
5. Recognize your options.
We can get “stuck” in thinking that things have to be a certain way and even talking ourselves into believing this is the only scenario. This is a mistake!
Don’t stand in your own way, create obstacles, or make excuses as to why change is not possible. Even if some options don’t sound good or perfect, consider them. It may open you up to something else that you never imagined.
Write out your options, even the ones that don’t seem possible. If you choose to see the impossibilities, write out why they are impossible. Then, empower yourself to let go of these limitations and reasons.
Consider what would be absolutely amazing, even if it seems way out of reach. Then each day, tell yourself “the amazing” can happen. You will start to make decisions and choices that support this outcome. You will work your way towards making the impossible possible.
6. Get out of the house.
We all need some time to get out of the house. It may not always be easy to coordinate but the rewards of some “me time” are worth it.
Go for a run, take a yoga class, go to dinner, grab a drink, get a pedicure, or browse a bookstore.
You also can go and do any of these things with your baby! That’s right, you can treat yourself to dinner, live music, or a drink with your baby. Why not? No one else’s judgment matters but your own.
No one else has walked in your shoes. And let me tell you, I believe anyone that has been in the shoes of a single mama will support you! Of course, you may have to modify a bit, but only to a certain extent.
As for yoga, maybe it’s time you explore the baby/mama classes, even though they aren’t the hot power classes you once did. You may find a new community you never imagined you would love so much!
As for dinner, no you don’t have to choose a family diner. You can go just about any restaurant. I found that my baby behaved better because she was so mesmerized by all the action.
I remember one particular Sunday evening, I felt I needed a wonderful dinner, so I took a risk and drove to a nearby French restaurant. We sat at the bar, her in her car seat and me on my bar stool. I had a great glass of red and it was heaven being waited on while enjoying the decadent cuisine.
It turned out the bartender was also the father of a young baby and we shared parenting sleep strategies.
Another time, I took a risk and went to a movie. It was great. She slept or woke up and I nursed her back to her own state of bliss. The movie was so loud that no one could even hear when she squawked. I knew if it was a problem in either scenario, I could always leave, but I didn’t have to.
7. Don’t let the “father” minimize you.
So often it feels like you are more limited because the biological father lives in a certain area or can try to ascertain control over you. This isn’t necessary and this isn’t the example you want to make for your children. Naturally, every scenario is different.
I applaud fathers (and mothers) who empower themselves to have an amazing life. This is the example set for the child.
It is necessary to be happy and strong! Isn’t that how you want Junior to be as they grow up?
8. Find gratitude.
This is more important than meets the eye. When you recognize what you have rather than what you don’t have, your entire perspective changes.
Being single, you get additional time to devote to loving your mini-me, verses sharing your time. You do’t have to worry about giving more than you have to give to a partner or having altercations. You can choose to develop the most positive atmosphere to surround your environment. Of course, there are beautiful bonuses to having a partner, but there may also be some true positive points of being on your own at this time.
You know your own reasons why you are choosing this life, so recognize that it is a choice and let yourself be empowered in knowing that.
9. Trust the universe.
Lastly, and certainly not least, let the universe handle your worries. Worrying will not improve your situation. Trust that you are on the right path.
It will take some time to get this all worked out. You can’t figure it out anyway, so stop trying. You will never know the outcome, as change is the one thing that is guaranteed along with your pathway of motherhood.
Holding your worries so close to your heart and in your mind will only exacerbate the issues, dis-empower you and cause stress that your baby will feel. You can make yourself sick with worry on how to make it all work and how to do the best job.
I imagine you are already doing a much better job than you realize. You are giving love and that’s what your child needs most of all. The time you share with your baby will never be wasted and can’t be retrieved later.
You have time to figure the rest out. Right now, take it one step at a time. Let your heart guide you.
The soul of your baby chose you to be their mama. Let go of what isn’t serving you and just enjoy being a mama. You were given the gift of motherhood for a reason. You got this!