Survival - the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances. Through my experiences and experiences of those who I share this life with, I’ve developed 10 tips for survival as a single mother. While some tips are simple and a little bit of common sense, other tips are not so simple and often forgotten about in the shuffle of life.
Be wise and survive! We have this one life!
Get the right car – My opinion is to have a small truck or hatchback. The car you drive needs to serve for many purposes for the long haul. I’ve had several cars and find that a hatchback to be one of the most beneficial cars. A smaller truck would likely fall under this category as well. The car you have should be easier to wash or repair on your own. It should be multi-purpose for events like moving, field trips, and carpooling with friends. There is nothing like having your own “whip” for such events so that you eliminate the need to ask someone for help or rent a vehicle to fit the need of the occasion. Don’t think so much about the style of car. It’s cool to be cute, but not so cool to be stuck out spending unnecessary money or time.
Forgive yourself daily – While some modern day women are entering the world of being a single mother due to a desire to be a parent, most don’t plan to be a single mother. Being a parent is challenge enough and taking on the task alone is an even greater challenge. There will be mistakes made and plans diverted. Forgive yourself daily for those things. Forgive yourself for all things that appear in your mind as a failure or downfall of yourself. No one is perfect. No one person can do it all. Forgive yourself for that. Forgive yourself for those days your child questions why you aren’t with their other parent. Forgive yourself for forgetting to send lunch money. Forgive yourself for not ironing. Just forgive yourself. Don’t drag around the dead weight of guilt.
Wipe away pride – One of the biggest feats for myself. Any pride that I had in most situations has been wiped away. Going into life, most people have some form of pride. However as a single parent, you will often need help from others and even the government. You will have to visit a thrift store to sell and purchase. You will have to take charity. Being a charity case has been an extremely hard pill to swallow. Most women will work their butts off not to slide into this realm of life. However the truth is – anything can happen. As a career women or entrepreneur, it doesn’t really matter what title that you hold, anything is possible. Let go of the pride and handle your business. I’ve heard once that there are times in life where you are the one who needs to be helped and other times you will be the helper. Don’t assume that just because you need help at one point in life that it will always be that way. There will be an opportunity to reach back and help others just as someone is helping you.
Pray or meditate – My seldom present ex-husband and father to my son once saw fit to question my need for church and all things spiritual. If only he knew that without much prayer and meditation, I wouldn’t have overcome our swift and emotional roller coaster relationship. Had it not been for me finding support within a religious group, I would not be the parent that I am today. I survived because of prayer. Without a doubt, there will be many times that there is no one person or thing that will equip you with a way to make it through life. Stay hope filled. Remain faith filled. Pray. Meditate. Stay calm. Remain peaceful. Falling to pieces is not an option. The child or children often have no one other person to depend on. Be that rock.
Stay physically fit – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, if only a little bit, is important for a reason that many don’t think of – staying physically fit helps you always be stronger than your child. I’m a five foot mid-thirties woman with a nine year old son who is less than a foot shorter than me. It’s without a doubt he will tower over me soon. I take great pride right now that I am stronger than he is – my phrase to him is always that “I will always win and I will always be stronger.” It’s really a funny thing, but he believes it. Therefore the older he gets, no matter what, I will always be stronger! Presently I am stronger. I can overpower him in arm wrestling or any fun sport using strength. While this is the fun reason to remain fit, there are serious reasons to remain physically fit. Maintaining your health is important for several reasons, it helps prevent most illnesses, it helps maintain strength for moving heavy items in the home, and it sets an example for your child to follow. Sick days at work must be reserved for the child(ren), keeping yourself from getting sick is paramount. Moving – I’m an expert at it. No one likes to move and not many will lend a helping hand to move physical items. If you are fit, you can do it yourself! I’ve found the more I exercise and show my son, the more he keeps an interest in doing the same. Be the example for your child to follow now and in the future. I’m no workout fanatic, but I keep myself together and my son is well aware of the good and bad when it comes to health.
Keep resume updated – You could lose your job tomorrow! Keep the resume and references in check. I’ve learned this the hard way. Recently, I’ve also witnessed others experience this unexpected event. Losing a job can come within the blink of an eye. Make sure you are well prepared with a good resume and job skills. The government doesn’t work for those who work steady and hard. Do not assume that because you are a parent who has worked for numerous amount of years, that there is some person or governmental agency that will get your through this.
Learn to cook – It’s cheaper. Period. There is no reason to go out and waste money on a $10 a day fast food meal. The same amount of money you spend on one meal at a restaurant, you can spend in a grocery store and it will last you an entire week. Be smart. Learn to cook – nothing fancy.
Have patience – Have patience with the child. Have patience with the cycles of life that you will encounter alone. Relax and have patience.
Remember that your child is NOT you – I admit that this is truly one of the hardest lessons for me. In school, I was mostly quiet and participated in just about all extracurricular activities (minus sports) available to me. The only subject in school that I ever had problems with was Math. I look forward to going to school. My son is almost the exact opposite. I’ve stressed many nights over who my son has evolved to be. In the beginning of grade school, he was quiet, sweet, and loved to read. Presently, he hates to read and hates school. He isn’t into sports and is very particular about participating in student clubs. One of my closest friends, also a single mother, makes sure to remind me often that my son is just not me. No matter what you teach your child – no matter what you expose your child to – the child is not you. Your child is an individual. Do not attempt to morph your child into a person they are not. Allow them to develop their interest. We are parents who are here to guide the lives of our children. We are not Scientists developing an experimental person. Release the stress and just let your child develop into the most positive and productive person possible.
Be resourceful – Surround yourself by people who know how to find a bargain. Surround yourself around people who know how to recreate everyday items. Surround yourself around people who are looking to grow and learn new things. Research inexpensive family activities. Research scholarships for camps and sports. Keep an open mind. Don’t get caught up in marching out to shop at the mall. Be creative. Check for all items you are seeking via friends, online, and discount stores. Recreate. Recycle. Be resourceful. It will get you much more than you can imagine while sticking to a budget. Maintaining a budget falls under this as well. I’ve been donated items. I’ve sold items. A bookcase has been a TV stand. A TV stand has served as my son’s clothing drawers. I don’t stick to the normal use of most things. Learn how to fix things. Learn how to fix small items on your car. Be Ms. Fix it. Ms. Replace it. Ms. Everything. Be resourceful.
No one lives your life, but you. This life as a single parent is one based on survival. There is no other single word best fitting for what you encounter. Women become single parents by choice and by uncontrolled circumstances. It’s trivial to focus on what led to becoming a single mother. The most important thing to focus on his how to survive and get these children out of the DOOR! I’m counting down. What about you?
I will SURVIVE.