single mom with hand to head at the challenges the life of a single mom brings
Family and Parenting

The Harsh Reality of Life as a Single Mom (and how to thrive) 

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Life as a single mom is like jogging up a never-ending steep mountain track wearing the wrong shoes.

Maybe you’re in this tough situation due to death, divorce or separation. Whatever the cause of your status as a single mom, it is shockingly hard.

This post contains affiliate links which means that I may earn a commission if you use them. I only recommend tools that I use and trust. You can read the full disclosure policy here.

Let’s get started with a few books sourced from Amazon to uplift you and to show you that you are not alone:

The challenges of life as a single mom

Here are a few of the challenges of being a single parent and a few sanity saving ways to cope with them.

10  Taxing single mom struggles

woman with hands to head

1. Dealing with the breakup

You may feel as if you’ve been run over by a bulldozer and the life you knew has been destroyed. The heartbreak and shock of the loss of your loved one(whatever the cause) sets off a deep grief.

But you have to go on as if life is normal. After all there are children to take care of, a home to manage and a job to go to. When all you want to do is fall to pieces.

2. Rebuilding your life

One of the biggest challenges of life as a single mom is that you have to rebuild your life.

This means battling to survive on a reduced income and often involves a move to a smaller home in a new neighborhood.

The drama of your kid’s anxiety about starting at a new school is stressful. Navigating the new neighborhood to do your weekly grocery shop, locating the nearest drugstore and emergency room adds to this.

Getting a job seems an impossible task. Now that you’re a single mom, the world seems to treat you differently. First, applying for a new better paying job is ideal.

But would-be employers see your status as a single mom as a deterrent – that you will not be a committed employee. That you will be late frequently for work, that there will be requests for time off to take care of sick children or for school events.

Your rocks-star status on your Linkedin profile does not cut it when employers hear that you’re a single mom.

3. Money

Your split from your ex may have been an amicable one and maybe he pays his child support on time.

But, it does not cover all the extras that go with raising a family single- handedly.
There is never enough money. You have to learn new ways to make one income stretch to cover the basic expenses and save a little for unexpected ones like a gift for a birthday party, a school trip, sports equipment.

But an emergency fund, while essential, remains a dream. So if there is an unexpected expense like car trouble, there is simply nothing in the budget to deal with it.


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The guilt you feel daily is very much like living with a chronic illness, You have multiple layers of guilt:

  • Failure of the relationship
  • Bringing up your kids without their father
  • Take out rather than home-cooked meals
  • Being late for work
  • Missing out on school events
  • Not being a good parent
  • Saying no to friend dates

5. Loneliness

Your life takes on a simple routine of work, taking care of the kids and managing your home. All of this is marked by intense loneliness.

After you’ve prepped for the next day and the kids are in bed, you have no one to share the events of your day with. If one of the kids did something amazing, and you want to relive the moment with a loved one, you can’t.

Instead, you spend your lonely night on the couch with the TV for company.

6.No free time

As a single mom, free time in a luxury you don’t have. You are always on 24/7. There are a gazillion things to do that range from laundry to meal prep to gardening.

They simply have to be done and with no extra money, you can’t afford a babysitter, home help out or a meal delivery service for you to spare yourself some free time.


7. Social life

There is a certain social stigma attached to you now that you’re a single mom. You occupy prime position in a kind of social no man’s land.

Before the split, you had friends together as a couple. After it, friends make a choice as to who to continue being friends with. Other women are also nervous that single moms will poach their husbands so deliberately exclude you.

You also find it difficult to enter into spontaneous friend dates because you have kids to take care of. Being cash strapped makes it hard to commit to a coffee date.

Friends also don’t want to visit because your kids are home so they do not get quality time with you.


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Coping skills for your new life as a single mom

After the grocery list of challenges that are common to most single moms, you may be terrified that life will never get better.

But allow this quote to be your guide:

As a single mum you’ll discover inner strengths and capabilities you never knew you had.
Emma-Louise Smith

Here are 7 simple coping strategies to start to deal with life as a single mom

1. Acceptance

It’s important to accept your current role as a single mom if you’re ever going to be happy again.

Anger about the unfairness of the situation whether it was due to a sudden death or betrayal traps you in a cycle of hate, regret and blame.

It tarnishes the present and blocks you from seeing the sparkle in your life – you’re not answerable to anyone. You have the keys to create the life you want with your kids.

Read 10 Powerful tips to deal with difficulties in life for more constructive help to come to terms with this ordeal.

2. Start a Journal

Ever had a friend who got you warts and all, who shared your happiness and cried with you in tough times?

Think of your journal as the best friend in whom you can confide anything.Pour all your pent-up anger and hurt about the split with your ex.,  your loneliness and guilt onto the silent pages of your journal.

At first, your journal will look like an extended list of all your problems as a single mom. But, as time passes, your journaling practice may follow these prompts:

  • What are you grateful for and why?
  • What were you wins for the day?
  • What are your goals for the next day?
  • What are you worried about?
  • Write 3 -5 affirmations that power you for the next day.

I urge you to embrace the art of journaling. It will totally transform your life. You can read more about my journey to journaling here.  If you’re new and need info on how to start a journal, read How to Start a Journal: A Life-changing Beginner’s Guide.


mother squatting and daughter standing

3. Build a support circle

You need to invest time and effort in building the right support system. Encourage close bonds with those who will lend support in a crisis without judgement and who will relish and enjoy your achievements.

Your support circle may include:

  • close friends and family
  • neighbors (especially if they have teens to help babysitting)
  • moms of your kids’ friends ( who can share rides)
  • coworkers (who can cover for you if you have a crisis)
  • the receptionist at your doctor’s office
  • the secretary at your kids’ schools

To build this village, you need to give more than you get. For example, if you have elderly neighbors, offer to run a few errands for them when you do your weekly shop. Be the sports mom on the weekend and take on a colleague’s spreadsheet dilemma.

Read this post which gives you several ways to make friends as a new mom.

4. Start a side hustle

One way to deal with the stress of not having enough money is to start a side hustle.
It will bring in a little extra money to boost the monthly income but can also help you build an emergency fund and save towards a family vacation.

Examples of side hustles:

  • Teach online
  • Take surveys
  • Test websites
  • Do research
  • Selling clothing

I recommend listening to the Side Hustle School podcast for inspiration to start your own side hustle.

5. Start an online business

Another option to grow wealth as a single mom is to start an online business from home.

Be inspired by this YouTube video to get started:

Read How to start an online business as a Single Mom (even if you’re clueless) for more info.

6. Use online apps to make life easier

When you’re time starved, you have to snatch up any opportunity to get tasks done quickly and effectively. One way is to use apps.

Here are a few much used and loved iPhone apps that you can use: Dinner Spinner – take the stress of what to prepare for dinner with this app. Simply punch in your ingredients and get a few recipes to choose from. 

Intuition: A Free iPhone App for Mom – This app is the perfect mom helper. It’s a To Do List with a difference. It allows you to sort your tasks in different views and locations. There is also a community section to engage with.

Bambino to find baby sitters at short notice.

7. Take time for self care

Life as a single mom is hectic. You may become increasingly frustrated with the heavy load of raising your family single handedly.

To avoid this impacting your kids negatively. you need to show yourself some love.

Some self care ideas:

  • Take a walk or take a yoga class
  • Have daily bubble bath
  • Go for a massage or pedicure
  • Create – craft, knit, sew or paint

These simple self care practices do wonders to restore and revive you. They give you an enjoyable time out from being a mom and definitely help you to be a better mom to your kids.

woman laughing

Your turn

This quote best sums up the life of a single mom:

A single mom tries when things are hard. She never gives up. She believes in her family, even when things are tough. She knows that above all things, a mother’s love is more than enough.
Deniece Williams

Let’s recap:

It’s a fact that the life of a single mom is fraught with overwhelming difficulties.
But, with a family to nurture, you have to snap out of it and learn to cope as best you can.

Strategies to deal with your challenges include:
1. Accept your life as it is
2. Embrace journaling
3. Develop your own caring, supportive village
4. Start a side hustle to boost your income
5. Build an online business from home
6. Use apps to save time
7. Take time for self – care

Do you have any tips to cope with life as a single mom?Share your story in the comments below.

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A former English teacher turned lifestyle blogger. Content creator for blogs and websites. Book lover, scrabble addict and crime show obsessor.


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