Being a single mom can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, but there are ways you can help support a mom who is doing it on her own. From emotional to practical support, I provide tips on how you can help single moms feel part of a supportive community.
Before you try to jump right in and offer help, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of the challenges many single moms face. By understanding their challenges, you will be better able to offer meaningful support and useful resources.
No one ever said parenthood was easy, which is never truer than if you’re doing the job alone as a single mom. Understanding these challenges is the first step in being able to offer meaningful support to single moms in your community. Below are seven challenges of being a single mom that everyone should understand.
Sadly, the two most common life events that lead to single parenthood are death and divorce. As a result, finances have often dramatically changed in an unforeseeable way. Single moms are financially responsible for raising their children and caring for themselves alone. Raising a child or children on just one income is a challenging task. Often, single moms have more than one job to support themselves and their children, even with child support from their former spouses. Only one income limits how much money they can spend on their children’s needs.
Having no other adult in the house to talk to, offer advice, help with the kids, or share a laugh or concern is lonely. With most of their time spent concentrating on working and caring for their kids, single moms have limited time for their personal and social lives.
Without the support of a spouse, a single mom has to make all of the tough decisions alone-where to go to school, which friends are good, or when a child is mature enough for a new privilege/responsibility, to name a few. A single mom may be unable to discuss solutions to problems with another adult. As a result, single mothers may feel uncertain about their choices without a sounding board to vet their decisions.
Single moms rarely get a few hours to relax. Instead, they feel physically, emotionally, and mentally worn out from all the responsibilities and often neglect self-care.
This one might be the hardest to overcome of all the single mom struggles. Every decision a single mom makes comes with a potential side of guilt. Even if they know they have made the right choice, they still might wonder. Single moms often feel like they’re forever coming up short when doing enough for their kids.
Read my article 25 Ways to Stop Feeling Mom Guilt, Immediately to learn to remove the mom guilt that comes with our parenting choices, circumstances, and thoughts about self-care.
Emergencies, accidents, and illnesses happen to all of us. Single moms worry about not having anyone to help in these moments. They fear who would care for their children if something happened to them.
The most challenging part of being a single mom is the judgments and misconceptions placed on them. Single moms are judged for all their choices and even questioned about their singlehood. Relationships end, spouses pass away, and some spouses walk away. Unfortunately, many women who are single moms didn’t plan this life.
A single mom’s family builds its psychological health on her emotional well-being, yet they are often so busy attending to their kids’ needs that they overlook their own emotional needs. Here are six tips for connecting with single moms needing emotional support.
Let her know you care by asking her questions about herself and her children. Many single moms have experienced difficult and maybe oppressive relationships. So, by getting to know her, you are letting her know she’s worth the effort to build a friendship with.
Sometimes the best way to help a single mom is to invite her to a girls’ night. Meaningful girl time is usually low on her priority list. This small gesture can show her that you see her, value her, and want to invest in your friendship with her. It gives her a role apart from “mom.”
Being a single parent can be isolating and overwhelming, and having someone to talk to and lean on can make a big difference. Listen without judgment, offer encouragement, and let her know you are there for her. It’s important to remember that single moms often carry a heavy emotional burden. They may feel guilty for being unable to provide everything their children need, or they may struggle with loneliness and inadequacy. By offering a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, you can help alleviate some of this emotional stress. Let her know that she is not alone and that you are there to support her in any way you can. Even a simple gesture of texting to check in can make a big difference in her day-to-day life. Remember, sometimes, the best way to help is to be there.
A single mom’s hard work and efforts often go unnoticed. Let her know she is doing a great job raising her children and how well she balances all her demands. Celebrating her success and milestones can help her gain the confidence to tackle any issue. Whether it’s job promotion or completing a degree program, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate what she has accomplished (even if it’s managing to get all her kids ready on school picture day)!
Single moms rarely receive positive feedback about their work raising their children, and telling her you notice her kiddos are so happy and carefree is very encouraging to a single mom. Letting her know her kid was very polite at school or on the playground can be uplifting for a single mom.
While single moms have challenges, they do not want people to feel sorry for them. Although used interchangeably, empathy and sympathy are very different. Empathy is listening to a person’s feelings and trying to relate to and understand them. In contrast, sympathy is about feeling sorry or pity for a person. Sometimes, single moms want to express their feelings or problems but are not necessarily looking for advice. Single moms need emotional validation more than unsolicited advice.
Offering practical help, such as babysitting or running errands, can be a huge relief. Even just a few hours of childcare can give her the opportunity to catch up on work or take some much-needed time for herself. Here are 14 practical ways you can help a single mom and make a difference in their lives.
Invite her for coffee and tell her to bring her kids along, making it easier for her to say “yes.” This small gesture can show her that you see her, value her, and want to invest in your friendship with her.
If you have children who are close in age, this is a great way to get to know her children. Also, this will provide her with some alone time, which is limited for single moms, to refresh and recharge.
Personal recommendations are often the best when finding professional services in the area. Single moms would appreciate a list of recommended professionals such as doctors, dentists, orthodontists, veterinarians, reliable babysitters, mechanics, lawn care professionals, and handymen. This helpful information is especially appreciated if she is new to the neighborhood.
Include her kids in the neighborhood carpool group. Carpooling will help single moms save time and money. If a carpool group doesn’t exist, consider creating one in your community. Consider using an app like GoKid to manage carpools with friends and neighbors.
See if she needs anything that you can pick up. This is especially helpful for single moms with young children, who may have difficulty making the time for regular errands.
Every family needs a community of support. Invite her to attend church with you or attend an upcoming neighborhood event.
Look for local organizations that offer support for single moms, such as parenting classes, financial assistance programs, or counseling services. You can also help them find online support groups to connect with other moms going through similar experiences. Consider connecting them to my Facebook group Confident Motherhood with Alli Worthington Facebook Group where moms share the experiences and support each other.
An excellent resource to look into is Single Parent Advocate, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to single parents. They offer various services, including financial assistance, job training, and counseling. Another helpful organization is The Life of a Single Mom. Its mission is to improve the lives of single mothers by providing support groups and education in 3 core areas: Parenting, Finances, and Health & Wellness. By helping a single mom access these resources and support systems, you can make a big difference in her life and help her feel more supported and empowered.
A single mom only gets a meal she didn’t cook if she orders out. You can also make her a couple of dinners: one she can eat immediately and the other to be frozen for later. Knowing she has another meal in the freezer to fall back on when she’s exhausted is an answered prayer.
If you have unused gift cards, consider giving them to a single mom. You may not love that restaurant or clothing store, but she might enjoy it.
Moms sharing their kids’ clothes that don’t fit anymore is a simple way of showing support to another mom. Ask her if she wants to see the clothing you’ve set aside. Passing down kids’ clothing helps moms save money and creates a positive cycle of moms helping out other moms.
Single moms often miss school events because they are working or lack the flexibility to attend. So, taking some pictures of her kiddos at school events and sending them to her is something she would greatly appreciate.
Single mothers often work many hours per week, have a second or third job, or attend a local college. Babysitting her kids will give her peace of mind and, more importantly, encourage her to schedule some time for herself, errands, or appointments. Ensure you’ve gotten to know her well enough that she can trust you with her kids. It’s a big deal for her to leave them with anyone, and you’ll want to make sure she’s comfortable with you before you take this step.
Professional Development and early dismissal days are exciting for kids but not for parents, especially single moms. So if her babysitter cancels, offer to be her backup babysitter when her kids have no school.
The holidays are one of the most challenging times for single moms, especially if she has no family other than their kids. So inviting her and her kids to celebrate the holidays with you and your family would be very supportive. A simple dinner invitation goes a long way toward creating a sense of community and belonging for single moms.
Being a single mom can be tough, as they often have to juggle work, parenting, and household responsibilities all on their own. But there are ways you can help make their lives a little easier. From being their friend to babysitting their children, there are many ways to help a single mom that will make a positive impact.
Now that you know how to help a single mom, help yourself by finding your secret superpower! Take this 2-minute free quiz to find out your secret superpower.