Being a single mom can look and sometimes feel daunting, but there are easy ways for single moms to stabilize their lives and continue on a path toward fulfillment and success. Whether you’re just getting divorced, are pregnant without a partner or have already been a single mom for a little while but need some helpful advice, these tips for single mom success should set you on your way to taking control of your life and creating an existence you’re proud of.
Move In with Someone 1 of 8
If you're leaving a marriage and aren't sure how you'll afford your own apartment, look into sharing a house with another single mom or a responsible roommate who likes children. My friend Kate Wolff, a comedian and single mom, loves living with a roommate. She told me, "It was definitely an adjustment having to get a roommate. I was used to living in a nice apartment with just my son. But I knew that if I wanted to change careers and follow my dream I had to make changes to my lifestyle. My son is very happy, and loves our roommate. He also loves having a mom who is no longer stressed out and unhappy after working at a job she hated." My daughter and I moved in with my mom when I first got divorced, and that arrangement offered me the opportunity to save up for a place of my own.
Join a Group for Single Parents 2 of 8
I actually haven't done this, but everyone says it's the best way for single moms and dads to connect. So if you're tired of the dating scene or you just need more people around you who understand your lifestyle, this seems like a great idea. Being a successful single mom is all about having a great support network.
Find Flexible Work 3 of 8
As a single parent, you'll need to have a somewhat flexible schedule, so find work that works for you. Being locked into a 9-5 (or 8-7) may not be the best idea, unless the pay is incredible and you can afford really wonderful, reliable childcare or have family who can help with babysitting. It may be wiser for you to work two part-time jobs rather than one steady one. Again, this depends on your industry and ultimate career goals, but I've found that having a flexible work schedule has helped me accomplish everything I need to as a mother and a professional. If you're divorcing and you want to go back to school, you'll definitely be looking for part-time work that pays well but allows you to take classes and have time with your children. It's out there. Don't give up.
Ask Friends to Participate in a Clothing Swap 4 of 8
If you find yourself suddenly needing clothes for a whole new line of work or you just need to freshen up your wardrobe but are strapped for cash, ask your friends to host a clothing swap. I've been to a couple over the past few years and have always come away with at least a handful of cute things, plus you get to bond with your friends. Win-win. Great for kids' clothes, too!
Develop a Childcare Share 5 of 8
Brian Gresko wrote a great piece on Babble recently about why you should organize a childcare swap. You can read it here. I participate in a childcare swap with a single mom friend and it works really well for us. I also exchanged services with another friend who babysat for me, so even though she doesn't have children, she was able to watch my daughter for free. Are you good at cleaning, redecorating, cooking? Find a way to pay people for childcare in goods and services instead of cash.
Hire a High Schooler to Babysit 6 of 8
Even if you have a great childcare swap going, there will be times when you will need a hired sitter. Try to find a responsible high schooler recommended through friends. High schoolers are eager to make money, don't require as much pay as adults and have lots of energy to play with little kids. My daughter's paid sitter is in high school and they have a great time together. My daughter really loves having a teenage girl to look up to, and because my sitter is still a kid herself, she doesn't mind getting on the floor and playing silly games the way an adult might.
Bring Your Child with You 7 of 8
If you're going to an event or a party in a setting appropriate for children, bring your child with you, even if it's not a specifically child-centered event. This really only works for moms with one or two children who can behave well (unless you've got six and they're all angels!), but not only will it save you on childcare costs, your child will love it, too. Children want to be with their parents, so take your child with you to that wedding, birthday party or work event (ask first). I take my daughter with me when I appear on HLN, and she sits in the green room sipping hot cocoa while I'm on air. Then we top it off with a visit to Central Park!
Try to Find Free or Low Cost Activities for Your Child 8 of 8
Parents often sink a ton of money into extracurriculars like sports or arts programs, and that can be tough for single moms to do. Don't fret, though. There are programs in every city and tiny little town that are free, low cost or have scholarships available, so if you're interested in enrolling your child in something, just ask if the program can accommodate you.