My Story as a Single Mom
Read Time: 7 Minutes
As a Traditional Mexican woman, divorce was never supposed to be a part of my journey. Over the last two years it has been a very difficult transition period for me, my children, and my now ex-husband. I work as a local content creator and over the years I have worked with well-known brands, local organizations, small businesses, and other influencers. I also do social media and blog consulting. This job is all about storytelling and relatability for me. So, when I went almost completely silent on social media for almost eight months, I wasn't sure how I would “emerge” and tell those who followed me and in my circle about the divorce I was going through.
Finally, after many months of dealing with the stress of the divorce and handling it the best way I could, I wrote about it. I found that first of all, being able to express myself in writing was not only easy but therapeutic. I also discovered a new circle of support, and a feeling of not being alone. It was all part of my process and over the last two years it has all become part of my daily life.
Divorce and adjusting to a new way of living as a single parent
As a divorced mother of two young children - a son and daughter - my biggest challenge has been adjusting to so many new routines while also setting new boundaries and finding new habits. Here are some examples of what life balance looks like for me now.
- As a single mom I make sure that weekends with my kids are about quality time with them and focus on activities we can do together.
- I make sure that my weekends without my kids are as productive as possible (taking care of myself, house projects, catching up on work). This helps me to focus all of my time and energy on my children on the weekends that I have them.
- As a single mother I need to have full responsibility for my finances. I work with a financial coach to help me create better spending and saving habits.
- I schedule regular therapy sessions to make sure I am talking to someone about how I am feeling. Without a spouse to discuss your feelings with, it's important to have someone who you can vent to, and get advice from. Therapy has been a great investment in self-care for me. A therapist can also help you find single parent support groups and programs that help single mothers.
- I make sure to check with my children regularly on how they feel, what they need, and the things I can help with more.
Even though I became a single mom by choice, divorcing with kids is a difficult undertaking. With that said, when it came to my children, I never tried to hide anything. I have always been very direct and open with my children. Children of divorce need constant reassurance that it wasn't their fault. Divorcing with kids means that you will need to remind them over and over that both parents will love them just as much even though you aren't together anymore.
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It's been painful for them, too. Children of divorce deal with so many emotions. I have made sure to remind them that we need to feel these emotions, live through them, and talk about them - and we do. I have sat and cried with them many times. We have also taken them to therapy and invest in self-care for them. It's a huge adjustment, and children of divorce need time to process this change. We are now in a much better place but the feelings still emerge. When they do, we communicate. Being open and honest with children of divorce can be key. It even helped me and my ex-husband be more honest with ourselves. My children have helped me heal in so many ways. I pray all the time that I am helping them heal. It's a process. You embrace it and push forward.
Helpful tips for single parents:
- Be open and honest with your kids as it feels appropriate.
- Kids of divorced parents need to be reminded, constantly, that they did nothing wrong and it's not their fault for their parents breaking up.
- Encourage your children to talk about their emotions with you, or invest in therapy as a form of self-care.
- Be patient. Parents getting divorced is a big change and it will take time to find your way as a single parent.
Work and life balance for single parent households
As a single mother entrepreneur, I have so many challenges with my work life balance. I constantly struggle trying to have a good and stable position to simply provide for them and myself. But I also want to pursue my passions and dreams. There is a lot of fear and doubt that comes with being a single parent. I have support from family and friends but being a single parent also means there isn't that safety net of having a partner or spouse to back you up. As a single mother it's all you, and the fears of failure creep in. I have them daily. So, it's a matter of being brave and going for it and praying it all works out. It's either that or stay where you are and regret not pushing harder.
Make sure you have a strong support system that you can talk to and turn to in times of need. You do not have to do this alone. Seek out programs that help single mothers or join single parent support groups.
I think that is my biggest challenge. As they say, I am the only one stopping myself from going bigger with my career dreams. But I do stop myself sometimes because I feel that mom guilt. I feel like I have already put my kids through so much with a divorce. If I can't provide for them as a single mother, then what? On the other hand, my children are also my biggest motivation. I love my kids and they are the reason I keep pushing and moving forward. Ideas? I have them. People who believe in me? I have that. I just need to tell myself to get over my fears and what-ifs and go for it! Being a single mother doesn't mean you cannot invest in your own dreams for your life.
How to be a successful single mother and a co-parent
The same struggles that exist in a household with two parents are encountered by a single parent home. The difference is that the experience is more amplified when you become a single parent since there's usually no support from a second person, even when you make every effort to successfully co-parent.
For example, while a two-parent household might have both parents helping with organizing schedules, disciplining, picking up sick kids, etc., a single parent bears that responsibility alone when it's her (or his) turn to take care of the children. Managing all of that takes a lot of organization and planning, especially as kids get older and activities increase. The life balance grows increasingly difficult; I alone have to get them where they need to be and there is no spouse to pick one up if their activities both end at the same time.
The more you can plan ahead, the easier it will be to manage being a single parent. A suggestion to help manage the work life balance is to have a calendar somewhere visible in the house to help remind you of each day's needs. It also helps to plan for the unplanned! For me, that means having a friend or family member available just in case something comes up that I cannot handle directly.
Scheduling struggles aren't the only ones for single parents, either. As a single working mom, I have another big challenge: finances. Usually for single parents, financially there's going to be some kind of struggle. Divorcing with kids means that, usually, one parent has the kids most of the time. Children of divorced parents also may receive child support. In my case I am the one who pays the child support because my children live with their dad full-time usually.
This was a choice that my ex-husband and I made in the beginning of the process. During COVID-19 it became a little bit harder to manage the work life balance, but thankfully the kids were able to stay with me for a longer period of time because we were working from home and homeschooling. Now that the kids have gone back to school, they are also back to their dad's full-time. So we are both back to the challenge of balancing our time.
Even though my kids aren't with me every day, there's always something that I plan so I can make sure that I'm able to see my kids the same amount of time that they spend with their dad. He and I work really hard to be communicative as single parents and be fair so we can co-parent effectively. Children of divorced parents need to be reassured that they are a priority. We work very hard at co-parenting to make sure that our children are spending time with each of us. While time and money might be a struggle, we continue to move forward and embrace every new stage of our situation.
Single parenting? You can do it.
Being a single mother, honestly, is a work in progress. I try not to celebrate every victory or accomplishment to keep myself grounded and humble, but I do remind myself of how far I have come and how much I have achieved. I love talking about the things I do in hopes that others will feel inspired and motivated if they are in the same situation; I think that's when I celebrate the most. I celebrate when I know that what I do can make a difference, not only for myself and my kids but for others - especially lonely single moms, single working moms, and separated parents in general.
Like everything else, I want to make myself proud but I also want my kids and parents to be proud of me and who I am. Some days are better than others - I am human. I work hard on my emotional self-care so that I can be a successful single mother. I make mistakes and feel guilty but I move on and try to bounce back harder than before! Bigger and better every time! Children and divorce certainly change the course of your life forever. At the end of the day knowing that my children are being taken care of in our single parent households and that they feel loved and safe is all that is truly important to me.