Being a mom is a blessing – one that simply can’t compare to other things. The joy and fulfillment you get out of watching your children grow into incredible people is untouchable. And the precious love that they freely give is the greatest compensation.
It’s no secret, though, that being a mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world. The work it takes to mold your children into wonderful people is a challenge – not to mention the work it takes to keep them alive, healthy, and whole.
And when you’re a single mom, the job is even tougher. It’s rewarding, of course, but it’s also hard. Getting up each day to push through can be difficult, but there are ways to ease some of the burden – to make each day more rewarding and fulfilling. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of single mom stress, some ways to address them, and more.
Common Challenges and Stressors of Being a Single Mom With Helpful Solutions
If you are a single mom, you know how hard life can be on a daily basis. The challenges you face can make every moment hard to manage. The following tips can help make a difficult time a little less stressful and help you enjoy your parenting journey even more.
Physical, Emotional, and Mental Health Concerns
Your health is not the only concern – not by a long shot. However, it is a very important one to pay attention to, and why it’s at the top of this list. Sadly, it’s also one of the areas that get pushed aside the most. Who has time to take care of themselves when they are responsible for others?
And sometimes, the effects of overlooking health aren’t even noticed until it’s almost too late or until it impacts your life. Let’s put it into context: You work, run the kids to sports practices, help with their homework, make dinner, get their baths, put them to bed, and – if you’re lucky – fall asleep soon after. You wake up and repeat it the next day, most likely having only gotten a few hours of restful sleep.
A few months or so down the road, you find yourself sick and unable to work. Why? It could be several reasons, but it usually has something to do with not taking care of your body. If your body isn’t strong and cared for, it cannot fight off sickness.
Missing work is a serious issue, especially when you provide the only income. However, missing a paycheck is only one possible consequence. Not taking care of yourself also impacts your mental and emotional health, which makes it more difficult to manage all of your single mom stress and daily life, in general. It also affects how you talk to your children, how much energy you have, how restful you sleep, and more. And at its worst, it can lead to diseases, like heart problems, and even death.
In truth, the effects can be endless, but one thing is certain: taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health is essential. Fortunately, you can change how you care for yourself with some or all of the tips below.
1. Start Exercising
If you want or need to join a gym for motivation, you are welcome to do so, but it’s not a must. All you need to do is be active for at least 30 minutes each day. And good news: you don’t have to do it all at once. If you can only manage five minutes at a time, do it. Something is better than nothing, and five minutes six times a day adds up to your half hour.
More good news: it doesn’t matter what activity you do. You just need to get your heart pumping. Some moms fit in exercise with activities like the following:
- Taking the children for a walk around the neighborhood
- Turning on a favorite song or two and dancing around the kitchen while making dinner
- Doing lunges to handle household tasks (like lunge walking to carry the laundry)
- Playing with their kids at the playground
Activities like these are not only easier to fit in, but can also give you more bonding time with your children.
2. Consider Yoga Before Bed
You might be ready to fall over by the time bedtime rolls around, but you should consider adding in a quick five or ten-minute yoga routine. Yoga is proven to reduce stress, promote more restful sleep, clear mental clutter, and improve your physical health. If you prefer, you can do a more energetic yoga workout in the mornings or afternoons instead.
Spend a few minutes each day journaling. Putting your stressful thoughts down on paper can help release some of that pent-up energy. It’s also helpful in solving problems.
4. Find a Hobby
It might be hard to add something else to your schedule, but having some type of hobby is a great stress reducer. Even if you can only enjoy it for five minutes a week, you can experience incredible benefits from it.
5. Find Support Groups
You are not alone on your single parenting journey. There are many other single mothers facing the same challenges. Fortunately, there are also support groups that you can join to meet other single moms, find emotional support, share parenting advice, and much more. And you just might find several in your area that you can meet with for play dates.
Getting by with two incomes can be difficult enough. Trying to stretch out one to make ends meet is even more of a challenge. There are, however, plenty of steps you can take to improve your financial situation and various resources that single moms can put to work.
1. Start With a Budget and Track Your Spending
You know that your finances cause you to struggle and stress, but do you know why exactly? Without a budget – otherwise known as a financial plan – it’s difficult to know what’s going wrong and how to fix it. Having a budget, on the other hand, tends to make things more clear. And when you know where the trouble lies, you know what to target.
Keep it simple. Write down every bill you have to pay along with the date and the average amount. Then, take a look at your receipts and bank statements and take note of any spending you do – even if it’s just $1 here and there. Compare the amount that’s coming out to how much you make. What’s the difference between those two numbers? Once you have determined this, you can put the next step in place.
2. Find Areas to Cut Back
You now know how much more money you need – it might be $20 or $500 each month. Regardless, you have a number to work toward. By looking through your bills and spending, there’s a chance that you’ll find at least some of this money. Every situation is different, but the following are some ideas to get your creative problem-solving muscles working.
- If you regularly buy coffee on the way to work, invest in a coffee pot and a nice travel mug instead. Many people find that this step saves them anywhere from $10 to $30 per week, depending on how much they normally spend out.
- Cut your cable cord. Many people pay a great deal of money every month for channels they never even watch. The sad thing is that most shows and movies are available on various streaming platforms, including Netflix, Paramount+, CBS, and more. And you can normally get several of these streaming services for a fraction of what you would pay for cable.
- Cut out your phone bill. How much do you pay each month for your cell service? For some, it’s over $100. If you meet the income requirements or participate in certain assistance programs, like SNAP or Medicaid, you can get free phone service through EASY Wireless.
- Unless you use it consistently, drop the gym membership. Thousands of people across the country pay for gym memberships that they never use. You can take advantage of free workout videos on YouTube or just enjoy walks around the neighborhood.
- Plan out meals. One of the highest categories in most people’s budgets is food – and not because they need to spend that much. Instead, it’s usually due to last-minute trips to the grocery store or drive-thru windows. You can save your wallet, your health, and a great deal of time by making a weekly plan and taking one organized trip to the grocery store every week or so.
- Learn to shop ahead. Find a drawer or container for stocking up on various items that you find on clearance but be sure it’s stuff you normally use. A good deal isn’t good if you don’t actually need or want the item. One good time to stock up is right after back-to-school sales have ended. You can often find products like paper, pens, and binders deeply discounted a couple of weeks after school has started back.
3. Look Into Organizations
No matter what you need, there are organizations available to help. Some are dedicated to helping low-income families in general. Others are dedicated to helping single moms. One example is food resources. If you meet the income requirements, your local Department of Human Resources or Social Services can help you get on SNAP or food stamps. Whether you meet those requirements or not, there are churches, food pantries, and other charitable organizations that provide food each month.
If rent and utilities are an issue, services like HUD can help with ongoing financial assistance for rent. Catholic charities, church organizations, and community services often help with utilities. Some offer one-time assistance, while others help for longer periods.
In most areas, you can dial 211 to get information for local help. You can also take a look at this list for more options around the country.
4. Consider Ways to Make More
If you’ve exhausted the tips above and are still missing some much-needed money, you’re not hopeless. There are a few ways to make extra money without spending the rest of your time away from your kids. The following are just a few ideas.
Look Into Apps
There are many ways single moms can make cash back on the items they already buy or by doing simple tasks. For instance, Fetch lets you scan your receipts to make points that can be turned into gift cards. At a minimum, you can use this app to earn Christmas gift money all year.
Rakuten provides cashback from specific stores if you use their website for shopping. And Shopkick lets you scan the barcodes of items in the stores where you regularly shop. Each scan gets you points that you can use for gift cards. And if you happen to purchase an item that you scan, those points grow.
If you enjoy thrift stores, you know that you can find treasures there. And many of those treasures can be resold online. For instance, if you find college textbooks, you can sell them to companies like Knetbooks and Textbook Rush. Collectibles can be sold on eBay. Even name-brand clothes can be sold through sites like thredUP.
If you’re thinking about reselling, don’t forget to take a look around your own home. Many people make bill money by simply decluttering and reselling – either at a garage sale or online.
Create a Product
Did you know that many moms make a side income – and sometimes a full-time income – by selling pintables on Etsy? It’s very true. Whether it’s planning pages and chore charts or bridal shower games and party games, pintables are a hot-selling item. The best part is that they make it once and sell it over and over again. And it’s simple to do. You can purchase courses to help you figure it out but there are also plenty of blogs available to walk you through the steps.
Offer a Service
You can always make some extra cash helping others. Some of the most popular services are house cleaning and babysitting, but the possibilities are endless.
Look Into Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a process through which you help advertise a business, product, or service. If people buy or sign up through you, you make a percentage or set amount. There are many different types of affiliate marketing programs – some of which are much easier than others.
This section is not a comprehensive list of ways to improve your finances, but the steps can certainly help. By taking a good look at your spending, reaching out to organizations for help, cutting back where you can, and making some extra income, you can get much closer to being a financially stable single mom.
Being a single-parent household doesn’t just mean one income. It also means fitting a ton of tasks into one agenda with little to no help. Since there’s absolutely no way to clone yourself, you have to find another way to make it work. The question is, “How?” Like finances, there are ways to make it much more manageable.
1. Take a Look at Where Your Time is Going
Start by taking a look at your agenda. Where is your time going? And what’s lacking attention? How much time do you spend cleaning? At sports practice or dance recitals? Cooking? Shopping? Working? Take a good hard look and determine where you actually spend your time. Then, consider the following tips.
2. Weed Out the Unnecessary
There’s a chance that not every single item on your agenda is necessary – meaning you can let it go. Let’s start with an important fact: many children do not actually want to be involved in the activities they are currently doing.
Sometimes, kids want to try something, learn that it’s not all they expected, and don’t want to do it anymore. They just stay in them because they think their parents want them to. And sometimes, parents push their kids into activities because society says that they should be involved in them.
The truth is that these decisions should not go by what society says. It should be between you and your children. So if your calendar is overflowing with children’s activities, talk to them. Find out if they really want to continue. If not, you just might clear out some stress for both of you. And you'll often find that you are saving money in the process.
This is just one example. If you take a look at your calendar, you’ll probably find other areas to cut out, too.
There are some items on your list that have to be done but that you probably don’t mind letting go of. Cleaning, yard work, and laundry are some common examples. Fortunately, there are people out there that will do these tasks for you. Yes, they might charge for it, but it’s often worth the price to clear your schedule and take care of your needs.
Consider talking to local churches, too. Many churches have their youth groups help people in the community. For example, they sometimes offer yard work, cooking, cleaning, and more. At times, this is completely free. Other times, they’ll ask for a donation of any amount to help pay for camp or similar events. It never hurts to ask around and keep an eye out on churches’ social media pages.
Another major issue many single moms face is childcare. It can be tough to find someone trustworthy to watch your kids – and not charge a fortune in the process. As with every problem, though, there is a solution.
One idea is to reach out to your local social services. Many low-income moms are able to get assistance to pay for childcare so that they can work.
Many single mothers that work odd hours or the night shift might have to get a bit more creative, though, as most daycare centers aren’t open during those hours. Consider linking up with other moms in your area. Together, you can create a group that trades off babysitting hours.
Also, this is another area where you might find help through local churches. Whether their youth group offers services for free or they just have teens who will happily charge a lower rate, you just might find the help you need.
Final Tip: Don’t Try to Fix It All At Once
As a mom – especially one accustomed to handling everything – it is so tempting to make a list, dive in headfirst, and knock everything out at once. Unfortunately, it’s simply not feasible, and trying will just stress you out even more.
Instead, make your list. Hang it on your wall or fridge, keep it in your wallet, or type it – whichever way is best for you. There are even apps you can use or goal planners like the one from Cultivate What Matters. It’s very thorough and will help you through each step of addressing your stress and meeting other goals.
Once you have a list, take a good look at it. Pick the item on your list that bothers you the most. It doesn’t matter if it’s that your house is always a mess or that you need to make more money. The key is to target the thing causing you the most stress.
After you’ve picked your target, create steps to help you meet your goal. As a busy mom, you know your schedule is always full, so you want to make the steps as tiny as possible. It’s better to have 50 tiny yet achievable steps than five that you simply can’t fit in.
For example, if you were planning to declutter your home, don’t write “Declutter Kitchen” as the step. Instead, write down tasks that take just a few minutes, such as:
- Clean the top shelf of the fridge
- Clear out the silverware drawer
- Clear out the plate cabinet
With smaller tasks like this, you can reach your end goal no matter how large it might be.