Adapted from Yahoo! en Español blogger Luza Alvarado
Years ago, when people talked about a "single mother" they'd talk about a woman who had unplanned children out of wedlock. Now, a single mom is also a divorced or separated parent in charge of her children's upbringing, as well as someone who plans and decides to have a child on her own. According to a 2010 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, while 24% of Non-Hispanic white homes are single-parented, 41% of all US Hispanic households are led by a single parent, meaning that most likely the mother is the sole provider of the financial and emotional support of her children.
Tips for Juggling Latinas' Redefined Roles
There's nothing easy about the life of a single mom, but here are some tips and tools to help with the daily battles:
Single mom and daughter/iStockphoto
Know your rights. Search information that will help you find child support, health services, financial and psychological support. Even though the situation for single moms in the US can be pretty uncertain, there are a variety of programs that offer support to single mothers in this country. No one is going to come knocking at your door to let you know about the programs, you have to look for the information, and ask for help. There is also support available for mothers themselves, as well as assistance with utility payments, academic or technical training, legal help, sport activities, and much more.
You're more than just a "mom on her own". The daily life of a single mother is exhausting. Sometimes, you look forward to the weekend just to be able to sleep. Nonetheless, isolation is not the best option. Go out, have fun, get together with friends, talk about your problems and successes, laugh, get distracted, and reclaim a world for yourself where you are more than just a single parent.
Daily routines. In this type of family structure, establishing a routine is of the essence. Don't let your children behave as little tyrants at home. First, moms don't have endless energy to deal with them; and second, you don't want to raise them to become spoiled grown-ups; no one will want to put up with them! Family life in a single parent household has to be a group effort; otherwise, it can become a nightmare. It is important to set rules, learn to delegate housework (assign tasks according to age) and follow TV watching and bedtime schedules tightly.
No guilt. Be aware that no parent is perfect, whether with a partner or alone. History has proved that single mothers have been able to raise children to become successful adults.
Keep your finances in check. It's important to make a detailed, monthly budget and stick to it. A good recommendation: if you have a credit card, don't use it unless you need it to cover health care or education expenses for yourself or your children. Tightening one's belt is not great, but the peace of mind you get is worth the trouble.
Urgent vs. important. The house is upside down: piles of clothes everywhere, dirty dishes, toys on the floor … Now, these are just things, but children aren't. They're living creatures and spending time with them should be the priority. Going to the park, cooking together, singing in the car during commute, telling them stories before going to bed, even cleaning the house together, are the types of things that forge bonds and create loving memories. As an adult, who will remember if the house was spotless?
Superwoman? Thanks, but no thanks. We live in a world where demands on single mothers are multiplying. The truth is that you can't be a superwoman. Nobody's perfect, but in trying to be so, health takes a backseat for a lot of women. It's not worth the exhaustion, because in the end, children grow up and leave. So take one day at a time: you're a human being before you're a mom.