If you're about to embark on a pregnancy without a partner by your side, you may be looking for single mother support when it comes to raising a child on your own. While there are certainly difficulties involved in parenting (single or otherwise), there are plenty of ways to make the job of being a great mom easier. Relax, breathe and check out these top 10 tips for being a successful single mom.
1. Get support
While you may like the idea of being a powerful, single superwoman who's got everything under control, the reality is that you're going to need some advice, support and even babysitting help sometimes. Your family members may be good people to start with, as they're likely excited about the prospect of welcoming your child into the family. Don't hesitate to lean on them when you're in a pickle or ask them for valuable advice if you're not sure how to handle something.
Finding other women in the single mother community might also be a great idea. These ladies will know what you're going through, as they've been there before, and new moms will be able to help you figure things out as they're going through the same experiences. If you're having difficulty meeting other single moms, check out a single mother support group online or at your local church, community center or women's center.
2. Plan ahead for emergencies
When it's just you and your baby at home, things might not always be easy – especially in emergency situations. If you run out of supplies, are too sick to handle your baby or encounter a problem that you don't know how to solve, you need a backup plan in place. This means being prepared with a fully stocked medicine cabinet, having a reliable list of babysitters and setting up a few friends or family members who you can call at a moment's notice.
3. Inspire yourself
If you've ever wondered how on Earth you're going to manage life as a single mom, you may want to come up with a list of role models who can inspire you when you're feeling overwhelmed. Whether it's a single celebrity who overcame all odds to provide for her child, a successful political figure who was raised by a single mom or a feel-good story about one of your single friends, these people show that it's not only possible, but enjoyable to raise a child alone.
4. Find the positives
Even if you don't have extra help or income, there are a lot of things you do have as a single parent, like the opportunity to spend tons of important one-on-one time with your baby. This will create an unbreakable bond between the two of you that's hard to beat. Even the fact that you don't have to argue about parenting strategies with a significant other is a benefit!
5. Don't wear yourself out
While it's great to be ambitious, there's such a thing as being too ambitious as a single mom. Wearing yourself out by trying to be the perfect role model and provider for your child won't do anyone any favors. Don't beat yourself up over small things like ordering takeout one busy night instead of cooking your kid a healthy meal, or leaving the laundry for a day when you're feeling less stressed out. In the end, your child will benefit the most when you're not overworking yourself and trying too hard to be supermom.
6. Don't be a man-basher
Just because you lack a male partner in your life doesn't mean there should be a lack of men in your child's life. While your relationship may not have worked out, that doesn't give you license to raise your child to think that all men are the same. Surround your child with positive male influences, like your brother, uncles, father, grandfather and guy friends and point out their good qualities.
7. Use rituals and routines to your advantage
Children need security and stability, especially when they're being raised in a single-parent household. Daily rituals and regular routines can help you meet these needs. It could be as simple as designating Friday night "Pizza Night," or reading a book to your baby before bed.
8. Be consistent
As the most important person in your baby's life, it's up to you to be consistent and dependable. As your child grows, he or she will have to know that you can be relied on for anything, whether it's supplying a bandage, helping with homework or making great ice cream sundaes. It's also important to stick to your guns when it comes to discipline – you can't be a pushover!
9. Celebrate your achievements
When your baby starts crawling, when you've finally got him or her potty trained and when you've started to notice your child getting along well with other kids, give yourself a pat on the back (or indulge in a treat). You're responsible for these awesome achievements, and your child wouldn't be making these strides without your loving care!
10. Take time for yourself
Finally, don't forget that "me time" is crucial for any parent. Although you might have lots of responsibilities between work, taking care of your baby and handling household matters, you also need time to reset and unwind. Hire a sitter or call up your mom for an hour or two and go do whatever makes you happy!