When you become a single mom there’s obviously a lot of changes that occur really quickly. You’re transitioning from the life you had with your partner to your life as a single mom, and you alone have to pick up the pieces.
I struggled a lot with day to day tasks, coping with my emotions while parenting, as well as relating to my friends. When you’re going through such a huge life change, you’re bound to be caught up in your own emotions.
Now you want to make sure that you give yourself the opportunity to deal with those emotions. But don’t get so caught up with them that your life is disrupted. Throughout my own struggles with coping as a single mom I discovered some pitfalls that have the potential to negatively affect your life.
These are the 5 pitfalls you’ll want to avoid to increase happiness as a single mom!
Pitfall #1: Couple Envy
One of the hardest things I dealt with initially was couple envy. I loved my friends very much and I value their support so much. But it was really hard for me to see all of them having husbands who were there to help out at dinner time, bed time, or just give them time so that they could go to the store by themselves. I didn’t have that and it’s really easy to get sucked into this place of envy or jealousy and eventually resentment.
There were times that I would be in a group of moms and they would all be talking about how much their husbands help them and I was feeling really left out and resentful that I didn’t have that.
But one of the things that I’ve learned is that you can’t romanticize someone else’s relationship. You don’t know what’s actually going on in their marriage or in their relationship and every relationship has its struggles. Just because they aren’t going through a hard time now doesn’t mean that they haven’t before or they won’t in the future.
You just can’t compare yourself to your friends and their lives. You have to be very grateful that you have these amazing people in your life who are supportive of you and your children.
Resentment or envy has no place in your friendships. It will eventually ruin your relationships with your friends. While I definitely understand the feeling, alienating your friends or losing those relationships, (because of something that isn’t their fault) isn’t worth it!
Pitfall #2: Not Using Consistent Discipline
It’s definitely understandable, (and even necessary) to go easy on yourself and your kids in the beginning of your transition as a family with one parent in the home. But you have to continue to stay on top of consistent discipline with them.
You may become more lax in disciplining them if they do something wrong because you feel guilty that you and your ex aren’t together anymore. Maybe you excuse their behavior because you know they’re going through a rough time.
There is a fine line when you first become a single mom of being easy on yourself and your kids, but still maintaining structure in the house and making sure that you’re holding firm to the discipline techniques that you used before you were single.
When you’re indulgent all the time with your kids they will lose respect for the rules in your house because no one is enforcing them. And they will likely be confused because they don’t know when they will be disciplined for something or not.
This structure and knowing what to expect will actually help your kids through this rough transition because they will know what to expect from you. Like their entire world did not change, there are still things that will stay the same.
If your ex was typically the parent to do the disciplining then you’re going to need to step up and be that parent because now your kids are in a one parent household. There is no other parent to back you up so your kids need to know that what you say goes.
You will benefit too from this because you won’t be stressing out about this aspect of your life. Now this is not to say your kids won’t ever act out, but you will feel more at ease because you’ll already have a plan and know to stay consistent.
It’s never fun to be the bad guy or feel like all of the discipline has to come from you but both you and your kids really will benefit from that set structure in your household.
Pitfall #3: Not Finding Single Mom Friends
Another pitfall is not becoming friends or surrounding yourself with people who understand what you’re going through. Again it is wonderful to have your friends who are in relationships be there for you because you want to have as big of a support system as possible.
But real talk, they don’t understand your situation.
They can’t know everything you are feeling because they haven’t been there themselves.
When you only have friends who are in relationships, that’s when the dreaded envy or resentment can come into play. That’s not saying that it will definitely happen if you don’t have single mom friends, but it’s more likely that you could fall into a trap of feeling bad for your situation because you don’t have someone to talk to who really gets it.
Finding single moms via Facebook groups, meeting up with single moms in your area, or networking somehow to find other women to connect with, can be really beneficial and therapeutic. There’s nothing quite like talking to someone who has been in your shoes and gets where you’re coming from. They get the struggle and even the good parts of it too.
Having a supportive single mom friend or a network of supportive single moms, can help you get out of the funk or dark place because they can rally around you and commiserate and share tips with you on how they’ve gotten themselves out. These friends can also help celebrate the great parenting and life moments with you.
Pitfall #4: So Much Guilt!
Moms are hardwired to feel some sort of guilt for something at any given moment. Add in the fact that you’re a single mom and the guilt can be non-stop!
I know I talk about letting go of guilt a lot but it’s really essential for your well-being. Constantly feeling guilt will rob you of the positive experiences in life. It can also increase your stress levels and make you sick!
Here’s the honest truth…are you ready?
You will not be able to do the same things that a two parent household can do. You may not be able to stay on top of cleaning or organizing as much as you’d like. You will probably find yourself telling your kids no you can’t play with them or watch a show with them or do a craft with them, because you have errands or chores or work that you have to do.
But what you can’t do is fall into the trap of feeling guilty because you have to say no. Or guilt because your house isn’t as clean as you want it to be.
Making everything work in your household as the only adult is an incredibly stressful and enormous responsibility. So just know that by taking care of everything in your living environment, you’re also taking care of your kids and you shouldn’t apologize for that.
And when you do have quality time with them really make it count and you’ll see that your kids will appreciate you spending intentional time with them versus when you have to be doing other things like errands, chores or work.
As moms we feel guilt all the time for everything and you just need to be easy on yourself. Don’t worry if you can’t take your kids to every birthday, every play date or do every activity with them. What matters most is them seeing you in a happy, healthy place, and you spending quality time with them.
Pitfall #5: Trying to Control Everything
As the primary parent to your children you may have expectations of their other parent. You may feel like their other parent should be around more often or that they should be parenting a certain way. You may feel they should be fulfilling certain obligations. Maybe you don’t like your kids routine at your ex’s house when they are visiting.
Here’s the thing, don’t obsess about things you can’t control. By this I mean letting go of your expectations of your children’s father.
You can’t control what your ex does. You can’t control how often he visits his kids. You can’t control what they do on their visits. You can’t always control the financial situation between the two of you.
It will just create more stress for you and may create stress for your children too. Kids are very observant and can tell when there is tension between their parents.
Trying to control these things is a losing battle. Just because you feel they should be stepping up more, (and you could be totally justified in feeling that way) you can only control yourself.
What you can do is be as supportive as you can with the relationship between your children and their father. If your kids end up with daddy issues, it’s not gonna be on your shoulders! Again if you focus on being the best mom that you can be that’s all you can do and it will make a big difference to your kids.
You Are Enough
Being a single mom is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done because you have the enormous responsibility of raising your kids to be good people and you’re doing it by yourself.
This transition to being a single mom can take a huge toll on you emotionally. By avoiding these 5 pitfalls that can negatively affect your life, you can regain control over your emotions and ensure you’re a happier mom.
You need to give yourself some slack because you won’t be able to do it all. But what you are doing is enough. I promise you as long as you are taking care of your babies to the best of your ability and spending some quality time with them you’re doing it right mama!