Single mothers are in constant motion. Always doing, solving, thinking, creating, juggling, producing, and responding to the never-ending demands of motherhood. In an era in which women are bearing most of the parenting load, maintaining a balance between family and work life is an ever-increasing challenge. However, for most women mediocrity and failure are not an option. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007 issued by the census bureau in November, 2009, there were approximately 13.7 million single parents in the U.S.; single mothers comprising close to 84% of that figure. Raising a child on your own is not easy, but it can be done successfully. Here is some advice from single mothers who are talking the talk, and walking the walk, into successful motherhood.
Sandra is a successful corporate lawyer and top executive of a multinational corporation and mother of two girls, ages 7 and 9. Sandra says that being a single parent is challenging, but that “she takes every opportunity to enjoy her time with her girls.” Although Sandra travels frequently, she devotes her undivided attention to her daughters when she is home. “Being with my girls is my number one priority. I understand my work allows me to provide for my family but I don’t lose perspective that my daughters are the main thing in my life.” Sandra says her weekends with her daughters are full of mommy-daughters time. Sandra also hires help and relies on friends and family to share the load.
THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
Adella is the single mother of two teenagers. She says that the demands of adolescents are very pressing; however, she is completely involved in her children’s lives. “I maintain an open and honest dialogue with my children. As a mother of a boy and a girl, their needs are different. Their ages also make their needs different. It is challenging to have the full responsibility of raising two children. Their dad is not involved in their lives and I don’t have a support system so it all falls on me. But I always remind myself that they are my greater cause and my biggest reward.” Adella says that, while at times she gets consumed with her motherly responsibilities, she is clear on the fact that “nothing is more important than my children.” Her budget doesn’t allow for a nanny or babysitter, and without family to help her, her “me” time is limited. However, she recognizes the importance of dedicating some time to herself so she can regain her strength, renew her sense of self, and stay focused on her motherly responsibilities. She says that she seizes any opportunity to go for an outing. Sometimes, just having a cup of coffee by herself while she waits for her daughter during her modeling class is enough. “When you are a single mother without a support system, any moment you can steal for yourself is a gift!”
THE WORK-FROM-HOME WRITER
When Tanya got divorced she found herself raising a young child without a job. She knew she needed to work in order to sustain her two-person family unit, but also wanted the flexibility to devote time to her child. By accident, she discovered that she could write for a living. “I have always had writing skills and dreamed of becoming a writer. When I got divorced, I finally decided to jump into my dream.” Tanya asserts that “she had a lot of fear” at the beginning. “I didn’t study journalism and although I had always been a writer, I never did it as my career,” she adds. But the experiment paid off. “I wanted to pick him up from school and volunteer in his school functions. I wanted the best of both worlds.” And she got it. Although she doesn’t sleep that much sometimes, having to work during every free opportunity, especially when her child’s asleep at night, for Tanya “it’s totally worth it!”
These single mothers affirm that single motherhood is not easy. However, they shared their strategies for making the most out of their motherhood experiences:
- Familia Comes First: These moms understand that work is a medium for them to provide for their children, but they are clear on the fact that their children are their priority.
- Forget Martha Stewart: Having the “picture-perfect” home may not be doable if you can’t hire help, so strive for a livable home, not a magazine-grade one.
- 15-Minute Meals: Though time is of the essence, make sure your nutrition is top-notch. Pasta cooks in no time, left-over chicken can be versatile, and breakfast makes a great dinner! Healthy, well-nourished moms, are better moms.
- Time For Yourself: Pamper the woman in you with silent cups of coffees, manicures, and girls’ nights out. No budget for babysitters? Try scheduling playdates or children “swapping” to free up some of your time.
- Sleep: Sometimes we sacrifice resting in order to do more. But sleep not only restores energy, it helps you focus, and that helps you be a better mom.
- It Takes a Village: Motherhood cannot be done alone. It takes teachers, friends, family, and sometimes hired help.
- Flexibility is a Gift: Most single mothers have to work. Asking for flexible work options or working from home can help you juggle more responsibilities.
- Be Involved: Make it a priority to go to your kids’ functions, extracurricular activities, and get involved in their education.
- Communication is Key: Giving your children the confidence to talk to you about their lives, thoughts, and feelings will give pay off now and in the future.
- Good Enough: Perfection does not exist. Instead of striving to be “perfect,” realize you will make mistakes. Simply move forward and try again.
Although single motherhood is a complex and demanding job, it is the most rewarding job women are entrusted to do. Enjoy the ride!
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